While Rhonda Butler and her husband David Brunner came from farming communities in Tennessee and Ohio, they hadn’t farmed before 1988 when they bought Asgaard Farm, situated in New York’s North Country, with a view of the Adirondack Mountains. After years of renovations and building, the historic dairy was reestablished with just two kids bought from a neighbor. Today, they are milking 48 Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW dairy goats and 80 to 90 kids are born each year. When they added the Alpine and Nubian goats to their 1930s-era dairy, they immediately fell in love with the animals and they became the anchor of an operation that has grown to include Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW beef cattle and laying hens as well. David manages the Red Angus, Hereford, and Devon cattle herd, with the help of Shannon Eaton and Billy Lincoln, who also manage the livestock. Their pasture-raised chickens are Araucana, Silver Spangled, and Black Australorps.
These species all work in a well-managed rotational grazing system, keeping the farm healthy and balanced. Kids are raised on their mothers rather than bottle fed, and the excess milk is made into cheese, caramels and soap. In addition to the goats, cattle graze on Asgaard pastures, each eating the parasites that are harmful to the other species. Chickens, which are fed grain grown on the farm, follow the ruminants, eating insect larvae and spreading manure. By rotating all their livestock on well-managed pasture, Asgaard Farm’s fields remain clean and their fertility is high.
Rhonda has always wanted to follow best practices in every arena that Asgaard participated in, including animal care, cheese making and land stewardship. “When it comes to who establishes best practices for raising animals, Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW is it,” says Rhonda. “We were following 99% of the AWA standards already—why not get recognized for it?” It is her goal to continue to improve and grow slowly. “I constantly feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day,” Rhonda laments, “but having the right people is crucial.” As well as the talented help of Billy and Shannon, she is also grateful for Tali Biale, who helps in the creamery on new product development and aids Shannon in marketing Asgaard products.
Asgaard Farm’s Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW goat cheese, beef and eggs are available directly from the farm, through the summer at farmers markets in Keene, Lake Placid, and Saranac Lake, as well as through select local food stores and restaurants. Visit asgaardfarm.com to learn more about Asgaard Farm Community Supported Agriculture options. Details and updates about the farm are also posted on their Facebook page, as well as on Instagram. For more information about Asgaard Farm email email@example.com.