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The sisters crossed nursed and raised their piglets: I couldn't even begin to tell you which piglet came from which mother from the very first 5 seconds of life. They all spent the next couple of months nursing (lots of that), sleeping (lots of that), rolling in mud puddles, and playing in the tall grass. At one point they were with the sheep, cattle, and goats all in the same field and what a beautiful sight to see all species napping together under the shade. 

What's Next? It's Time to Grow....

MollyMike Peterson

Mike & Molly Peterson

Mike & Molly Peterson

So. You've hopefully seen our new video {HERE} and our recent mention in The Huffington Post about millennial farmers {HERE}. So, we received the responses: "How can we help you?" Well. Please read on: 

We are Mike & Molly Peterson of Heritage Hollow Farms in Sperryville, Virginia. When we purchased the farm business from our employer in 2013 we certainly had big dreams to grow the farm but we didn't quite know how it would look every step of the way. We’ve allowed this business to grow organically as our business plan originally forecasted for our first two years in business. Since then, we've been surprised, humbled, and encouraged. 

WE AT HERITAGE HOLLOW FARMS HAVE NOW REACHED THE NEXT BIG STEP: IT'S TIME TO GROW AGAIN. WE CURRENTLY CANNOT MEET THE DEMAND FOR OUR PRODUCT AND NEED TO INVEST IN MORE ANIMALS, OUR EMPLOYEE (OUR COUSIN) IS READY FOR MORE WORK (WHICH MEANS MORE PAY), AND WE'RE CURRENTLY NEGOTIATING LAND LEASES WITH SEVERAL LOCAL LAND OWNERS TO HELP REHABILITATE THEIR LAND WITH OUR HOLISTIC AND REGENERATIVE METHODS OF PASTURE-BASED FARMING. THESE ADDITIONAL TRACTS OF LAND ALL RESIDE WITHIN OUR COUNTY AND WILL BE MANAGED WITH A NEIGHBORING FARM BEAN HOLLOW GRASSFED: SOME HAVE SAT FALLOW, SOME ARE IN NEED OF REHABILITATION AND ALL WOULD INCREASE THE LAND UNDER OUR STEWARDSHIP TO NEARLY 1,000 ACRES (AND GROWING).

 

The great news is: we're ready and excited to grow! We need to invest in more animals, more farming implements (hay truck, trailer - we currently borrow ours), working capital, and employee growth so we're looking for partners (either through traditional investing or simple gifts of cash to the cause): those who believe in supporting agriculture at the ground level with a "Slow Money/Slow Food" approach. The return on the investment for agriculture use is typically not high and it is often at a slower rate but it is based around the idea to "bring money back down to earth". Our typical cash flow cycle on our beef production is 4 years from initial investment to return on investment. Meaning, when the initial investment is made in a cow, it takes 4 years to complete the process which includes pregnancy, calving, weaning the calf, and then 24 months to bring that calf to finishing weight. It's a 4 year conception-to-consumption cycle. We're at the point of growth where upfront capital - with a farming-realistic return and payment schedule for those investments that qualify - would help exponentially to carry this farm forward. We have business loans and a line of credit that we're paying back on schedule, and we have a drive and a proven model with growth demand and potential. Supporting and investing in us means that you believe in who we are as people, our mission, and our philosophies. It also means that you want to keep young families building an agricultural business with a focus on ecology and regenerative agriculture entrenched in a progressive community. Each investment helps us progress forward in having enough livestock to transform the grasslands and pastures in our community. Fallow fields will soon be bursting with more fertility, ecological diversity, stronger water retention, keeping farm land in farm use, and supporting young farming families in Rappahannock County. We are eager to continue this growth cycle.

Matt, Jodi & Liam - our cousins - moved from the Midwest in late 2015 to join the Heritage Hollow Farms Family

Matt, Jodi & Liam - our cousins - moved from the Midwest in late 2015 to join the Heritage Hollow Farms Family

We believe in dreaming big, we believe in the strength of rising together for a greater whole, and we believe in our capabilities to continue to create a stronger local economy and food system. The future is very bright for Heritage Hollow Farms and we're so blessed we get to be the stewards of this wonderful business. 

OUR NEEDS ARE ON-GOING AND IT IS A DYNAMIC, MOVING TARGET BUT ONE THAT KEEPS US REALLY EXCITED AND HOPEFUL FOR THE FUTURE OF THE FARM AND THE LAND UNDER OUR CARE. 

IF YOU'D LIKE TO SUPPORT OUR MISSION, PLEASE CLICK THE BLACK BOX BELOW AND YOU'LL BE FOREVER A PART OF BUILDING A GREATER COMMUNITY SUPPORTING YOUNG FARMERS. FOR THAT, HIGH FIVE: YOU'RE AWESOME.

Yes! I want to help Mike & Molly Grow the Farm!

Additional ways to help us grow our mission:

Community Support: For those of you in our immediate area that have frequented our store or have purchased our products from one of our other retail partners, thank you. Truly, from the bottom of our hearts. Each purchase continues to build our dream and keeps us progressing towards our goals. We run in to so many of our neighbors while we're out in the County who offer words of encouragement and support and that can brighten our day in an instant. 

Investment Partners: Please contact us if you have interest in investing in Heritage Hollow Farms on a larger scale to help us grow this next leg of our journey. We can be reached via phone, email, or in person if you have a trip in you to the lovely Sperryville, Virginia. Contact page {HERE}. 

Continue to send us your encouraging words: those out-of-the-blue phone calls, emails, and store visits to thank us or tell us how much you enjoy what we do/how we do it really does mean a lot. Thank you for being a part of our community.

*Please note: we are not a non profit nor do we claim to be. Any gifts through the button above are NOT considered tax-deductible. Donations through the websites are considered gifts - not loans - and no product, service, nor interest will be exchanged/returned. If you're interested in an investment you can contact us through the contact page above. 

 

 

Spring on the Farm 2016

MollyMike Peterson

Spring has sprung on the farm: 26 piglets and 16 lambs (video below) born within a week with 2 more sows, several more ewes, and about 50 cows or so to go. The grass is growing rapidly (yay!) after a mild and very damp winter, the birds are singing, and the bees are starting to buzz around. Spring is definitely our favorite time of the year. 

Harriet and Virginia, our Mangalitsa sows, gave birth, again, on the same day: March 8.

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A Family Farm

MollyMike Peterson

We so look forward to the farm growing and the farm growing to include them. Mike is thrilled to be able to work side-by-side with his cousin and I'm thrilled because it frees me up to work on other parts of the business and to continue to tend to my (also) thriving photography business. Don't get me wrong: I love working side-by-side with my husband and will probably miss some things in the field but the farm is growing at a pace that we need more help and we're really excited we can share this with family and share this with someone who so badly has wanted to farm since he was a toddler.

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Mangalitsa: A Birth Story

MollyMike Peterson

The sisters crossed nursed and raised their piglets: I couldn't even begin to tell you which piglet came from which mother from the very first 5 seconds of life. They all spent the next couple of months nursing (lots of that), sleeping (lots of that), rolling in mud puddles, and playing in the tall grass. At one point they were with the sheep, cattle, and goats all in the same field and what a beautiful sight to see all species napping together under the shade. 

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2015

MollyMike Peterson

2015. Here we are. Oh. Wait. It's almost May (when did that happen?!)...

I started writing this post in January to announce the new year but somehow we're smack in the middle of April already! So, let's see if I can smoothly pick up where I left off.

One of the exciting things about being self employed is the flexibility and freedom to dream and dream big! We're took January to plan and dream for the upcoming year and before we knew it the grass started to grow and calves started arriving!

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2014

MollyMike Peterson

It's often we hear, and it is often we, too, are guilty of saying, "Gosh, how is it already 2015? How has another month gone by? Where did the time go? How are the kids growing so fast? Where did summer go?". The only constant in life is change, right? Time does go by faster and faster the older we get. Our lives on this planet are finite - not one of us knows if today is the last or thirty years from now. The great mystery of life.

So here we are in 2015...already.

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Serenity

MollyMike Peterson

There are some days on the farm when you can sit, watch, and know everything and everyone is okay. That no matter what is going on the world, you've got this in front of you.

Like these piglets playing like piglets do without a care in the world. Notice that deep, beautiful black soil? Pigs have been on this lot heavily for years and have certainly cleared out the vines and thorns and rarely a thistle grows but underneath grows a dark, fertile soil.

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Opportunity

MollyMike Peterson

My Dad has told me several times "Perhaps the best opportunities come about at the most inopportune times." Let that register. What I taught myself about opportunity is that you had to create your own. Hard work, patience, perseverance, and a little bit of luck would bring about any opportunity that you desire. If this were the truth then why would the best opportunities come about when it seems as though our lives are most hectic?

Perhaps that's a sign that however much we feel that we need to be in control, we are ultimately at the hands of the universe. I am completely guilty of this. Sometimes I feel like the more I can control every situation of every day, then I will somehow have control over the outcomes of those situations. Rotational grazing is an example of this. I feel as though I have some type of control over our grazing management with our cattle herds. As much work, preparation, and physical exhaustion that goes into this, I still am at the mercy of the current mood of the cow herd. If an animal decides today is the day they are going to break the fence, get sick, or (worst case scenario) die, then I am there to respond in a reactionary mode. Having the ability to evaluate the scenario and react is incredibly important, but it glosses over the larger problem. Perhaps if we didn’t try to control every situation in our lives, we would have more opportunities to prosper.

I realize that sounds counter-intuitive, but it makes sense to me when you think about the idea from my Dad. When I slip back into the ‘prove it’ mode, meaning my work and my passion are only there to prove to others that I am worthy, I tend to spend 60% of my time in the reactionary mode. If I’m doing a task because I love it and it fulfills my desires, my head is clear, my heart is full, and I spend much less time reacting to a crisis and putting out fires. One of the big issues with always trying to prove yourself is that it’s based on a fear mentality. I’m afraid that I might lose my job at any given point, so I need to work my tail off to prove that I am worthy of being employed. What if I operated from the perspective of gratitude. I am so grateful that I get to do what I love and get compensated for it. How does that feel? Should feel pretty light and present you with the OPPORTUNITY to fulfill your own self. If I rotated our cow herd and planned our rotational grazing because I love it and am grateful for the opportunity to work with these animals, let my face absorb the warm sun, run my hands through the soil, and be open to the results of that work, then these opportunities I am looking for will be presented. Animals will still be animals, but when something unusual happens, I will be much more useful to them when I approach the situation from the perspective of love and gratitude. A cow came down with an illness? That stinks, but what can I learn from this? How can I prevent this in the future? Being angry with her for getting sick and interrupting your day will only make the situation worse.

Operating in ‘prove it’ mode usually means that you’re spending your days with blinders on, so focused on finishing tasks and moving on to the next that you’re going to miss bigger opportunities that may be presented because you won’t recognize them as opportunities, they’ll be presented as a distraction. Living with gratitude will allow you to accept opportunities as they come about, whether it feels like the right time or not. When your life seems most chaotic might be when the best opportunities are presented to you. It’s usually a sign from life that we need to change course, slow down, and be open to what the next step is. Evaluation is important, but listening to your heart will always lead you in the right direction. Learn to listen to it and let it guide you.

-Mike

Calving Season 2014

MollyMike Peterson

Calving Season

Every once in a while I happen to have my "real" camera with me in the car outside of headed to or from a a photo shoot. ........I happened to have it in the car and went to see the herd. Turns out we had 6 calves just that morning! I was thrilled to see I had arrived just in time to photograph a little one's birth - not my first but always exciting to watch. This little one was born with no problems; very swiftly and was standing immediately. The image slideshow below is a combination of a few of the little calves that morning. We're now up past 60 calves on the ground with more to come..... !

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