Posts Tagged ‘Scott Bice’
At Redwood Hill Farm, we’ve been farming gardens and orchards just as long as dairy farming—nearly 50 years.
It is typical in Sonoma County to experience an extended dry period each summer without rainfall for many months. We are therefore accustomed to using water wisely and have implemented different water conservation systems which include composting, drip irrigation, reclaiming and reusing water, and dry farming. The severe drought conditions of the last four years have challenged us to perfect these techniques as we make the most of the water we have, now more than ever.
One of the most effective water conservation programs we have in place at our Sonoma County farm near Sebastopol is composting. Composting enables us to use less water while enhancing the cultivation of some of our goat feed, growing our own food, and enriching our farmland overall. Composting is a natural process that turns vegetable matter or manure into a dark rich substance compost or humus.
We lovingly call our compost “black gold”: Straw and goat manure are gleaned from our loafing barns and are composted over time in large piles and then spread throughout our gardens, apple and olive orchards. Composting conserves water as it decreases evaporation of moisture from the soil and enables the soil to hold more water in. In addition, it reduces water runoff and topsoil erosion during the rainy season.
As rainwater is caught and filtered through the straw down into the soil, orchards and gardens are fed with the nutrients from the rotting compost. Over the winter and into the next spring, the straw and manure compost continues to break down. The bottom layers, with the help of worms and other composting insects, turn the compost slowly into rich, loamy topsoil.
In addition to mulching our food and flower garden boxes at the farm, we use drip irrigation systems throughout the farm for our young, olive orchard as well as for the raised garden beds, blueberry shrubs and other berries that we grow for food each year. Drip irrigation, also known as “trickle irrigation” is a simple, but very effective system that consists of a network of tubes and emitters to focus the water close to the plants and young trees. This allows the water to drip slowly in those areas. Compared to traditional, overhead watering this method is very efficient in reducing evaporation and delivering only the necessary amount of water directly to the base of the plant, just where it is needed.
In the dairy milking parlor we continue our water conservation efforts by reclaiming and reusing water from our equipment’s automatic wash cycle. After the wash cycle, the water is directed to a holding tank where any sediment settles. The grey water from that tank is siphoned, pumped and then used to wash the floors of the dairy barn each day.
Sonoma County has long been known for the delicious Gravenstein apple’s commercial production and growing apples has been a tradition from Redwood Hill Farm’s very beginning, almost five decades ago. We have over 15 different apple varieties in our abundant orchard, which is entirely dry farmed. Dry farming is a system of growing crops in low water or arid regions and means that no water or artificial irrigation are used on the trees except for the water they receive with the winter and spring rains. While the fruit size is typically smaller than an irrigated orchard, the yields are very good.
Healthy topsoil is critical to sustainable dry farming, and preserving the soil is considered an important long-term goal of our orchard’s dry farmed operation. We use no- or reduced tilling, and straw compost spreading throughout to protect and replenish the orchard’s valuable topsoil. Our free-range chickens as well as the rabbits, deer, turkeys and other wildlife that live in and around the farm appreciate our efforts as they enjoy the abundance of the land.
As we continue to harvest our apples and notice the leaves that begin to turn to their bright fall colors, we’re hopefully optimistic for more rainfall this winter. Meteorologists are predicting with a high certainty that an “El Niño” weather pattern is developing. This means winter and spring rainfall for the West Coast – and hopefully lots of it to soak the fields and gardens on our farm once again.
Part 1: Growing Our Own Drought Resilient Goat Feed – Tagasaste
Conserving precious water is on our minds as we are facing another year of severe drought in California. We’re resilient folks, and are constantly looking at ways in which we can do our part at the Farm as well as at the creamery. Redwood Hill Farm Manager Scott Bice’s most recent water-saving project on the farm is one we’re very excited about. We are now growing some of our goat’s feed, a drought-tolerant, leafy shrub called Tagasaste, right on the farm – and the goats love to eat it.
by David Bice
Redwood Hill Farm has been a family farm for over 45 years. It began in 1968 when our parents, Cynthia and Kenneth Bice (with then seven kids), moved from Los Angeles to Sonoma County and bought their very first goat named “Flopsy”. As a family and later under the leadership of oldest sister, Jennifer Bice, we have been making our cultured yogurt, kefir and artisan cheese for our goat milk loving customers since the early 1970’s. We invite you on a journey to follow our fresh goat milk as it travels from our Certified Humane® goat farm in Sebastopol, CA, to your neighborhood store.
Where does this goat farmer get his energy?
Managing a goat dairy requires long days and stamina to keep everything running smoothly. This means getting up before dawn and working all day – and, during spring “kidding season,” into the night as well, welcoming new baby kids into the world. Where does Farm Manager Scott Bice get all his energy?
His secret weapon is his “No Kidding Around” Chore-Time Energy Smoothie.” This special concoction, featuring our wholesome goat milk kefir and Scott’s own custom nutrient-rich add-ins, will energize you in the morning and sustain you through work or play.
Congratulations to our incredible Farm Team!
It was a wonderful Sonoma County Fair goat show for Redwood Hill Farm. We were honored to receive many awards, including the coveted Supreme Best Doe in Show award as SGCH Rima (pictured) won it against some amazing competition. Winning this award at our prestigious State and County Fair in the same year, is another great accomplishment in this Doe’s storied career.
by Scott Bice, Farm Manager Redwood Hill Farm
This past Thanksgiving, our family gathered around more than just a dining room table. We also gathered around an olive grove for our very first harvest of the beautiful Tuscan olive trees planted two and a half years earlier.
In Italy there are many festivals in November to celebrate the olive harvest, when family and friends gather to harvest the plump green and purple fruit by hand. On a cold but sunny morning, we started a new Bice family tradition: picking the fruit to make “green gold”—the buttery, peppery, and delicious olive oil.
By Scott “Goat Guy” Bice
All of our goats at Redwood Hill are special, but every once in a while, a certain individual will come along and grab everyone’s attention. From the experienced goat breeder visiting Redwood Hill Farm who exclaims “WOW!!” when they see her gliding around the barn, to the third grade student that very same goat befriends by coming up and rubbing her gently on their back, as if saying, “Love me”.
Meet Rima, the American Dairy Goat Association’s (ADGA) 2012 National Champion and Best Udder Alpine.
By Scott “Goat Guy” Bice
Spring and Summer are very busy seasons here at Redwood Hill Farm. In that time, we go from kidding season to goat show season at our Certified Humane® farm, with just about every weekend filled with some kind of event. This year it seemed busier than ever with a multitude of events. Sadly, neither the goats or I had time for writing The Bleat Beat. Fear not loyal readers, The Bleat Beat is back!
Hi Everyone, my name is Zimba! I’m one of over 300 dairy goats living here at Redwood Hill Farm, the first goat dairy in the nation to be labeled with the Certified Humane® designation—animal welfare is very important to the folks who own and manage Redwood Hill.
You might have seen me on postcards or even on a truck and trailer that delivers our natural, delicious, dairy goat products to health food stores everywhere. Well, now I’m so famous they even want me to write a blog! Actually, Farm Manager Scott Bice and others on the farm will be contributing to the blog as well, but we all know that I’m the one capacious in writing creativity! Read on as I’m excited to fill you in on happenings at Redwood Hill Farm from the goat’s perspective.
By Scott “Goat Guy” Bice
Life is like spring weather in Sonoma County. You never know what you’re gonna get. I’m sure a lot of places can make that statement for their spring time weather, but after spending much of my youth in the temperate climate of Kauai, I’m often amazed at the dynamic spring weather shifts we have here in the North Bay area.