Here at Hollow Hills Ranch & Homestead, various kinds of livestock have passed through our gates. Horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, geese, chickens, and many more. Our horses have gone down from 7 to 1. We no longer have cattle, pigs, goats, rabbits, or geese. We’re starting back up with chickens again and soon will also have some geese and ducks perhaps. Sheep have persisted through the years.
Back in the early days, when Connie’s Grandparents and then Uncle ran the farm, there were wool sheep: Suffolk mostly. When our immediate family took over the farm in the 1980’s the sheep were Suffolk and North Country Cheviot. In early 2000 we added our first St Croix ram to the flock to cross over the wool breeds. Not needing to crutch (shear around the udder and rear ends) for lambing season was fantastic! Wool prices had gone in the toilet so needing sheep that didn’t require as much shearing appealed to us.
We soon added Katahdins, more St Croix, and dabbled with other breeds such as Dorper, Barbados, and Black Hawaiian. We finally settled on predominantly St Croix and Katahdin flocks. Due to Amy’s shoulder injury, the Katahdin ewes are going to be crossed with St Croix rams to make commercial breeding stock and market lambs. The St Croix also, being smaller framed sheep, don’t eat NEARLY as much as the Katahdins and with hay prices, this is very important right now.
We are planning a new chicken coop for the orchard/garden area so that we can sell both meat chickens and eggs. The geese and ducks will be in a “coop” next to the chickens and will help keep them protected from predators and sound the alarm if something is amiss.
Shane knows a thing or two about keeping honey bees and making honey so at some point we will be adding some hives to the orchard as well.
In the old days of Hollow Hills Ranch & Homestead, there was almost always a garden and a few random fruit trees here and there. In early 2000’s the family put in an actual orchard of 29 trees. Due to some irrigation problems though, many of the trees have died. We still have one apple tree, one pear tree, and one peach tree left. We are currently in the process of restructuring the orchard and scaling back some of the fruit tree plans. We are considering planting the orchard into a food forest. Basically landscaping with food plants, pollinators, nitrogen fixers, and things with deep roots to bring nutrients to the surface.
We will have apple trees, pear trees, peach trees, plum trees, sweet cherry trees, and pie cherry trees. We will be adding fruiting shrubs and vines soon. Whatever we don’t use we will sell.
Another feature to the orchard will be the raised veggie garden beds, a few hoop houses and maybe a greenhouse. We will preserve what we want to keep and then sell off the excess.
We are toying with the idea of also growing mushrooms in a special mushroom shed or hoop house as well. Several varieties are fairly easy to grow.
There are also thoughts of selling cuttings, but we will see!