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Kathryn Spann and Dave Krabbe raise Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) meat and dairy goats at Prodigal Farm in Rougemont, North Carolina. Kathryn is somewhat native to Rougemont, as her mother’s family farmed tobacco in the area for generations. She and Dave met in New York City, while Kathryn was practicing law, and they soon decided to return to North Carolina, which brought them back to Kathryn’s roots and fulfilled Dave’s long-time dream of owning a farm.
Prodigal Farm spans 97 acres and is complete with a 120-year-old farmhouse, original log tobacco barns, mule barn, corn crib, smokehouse and outbuildings. These beautiful, historic buildings are daily reminders to Kathryn and Dave of the area’s rich farming history; in fact, the couple is in the process of placing a conservation easement on the farm to preserve the land as farmland forever.
Kathryn and Dave operate their farm so that it works with Mother Nature, and carefully integrates and reflects nature’s patterns and systems. “A good farmer creates a managed ecosystem, where the various parts all contribute to the health of the whole,” they explain. “This is the soul of sustainable agriculture; it’s also a practical way to produce high quality food while building soil and conserving the habitat and biodiversity. We are constantly improving our systems, so they flow more directly from the examples we see in nature.”
The AWA goats at Prodigal Farm spend their days outdoors on pasture. The goats are rotationally managed, grazing one section of pasture (and browsing on other forage at the edge of the woods) before being moved to fresh fields. This type of management allows pasture to recover before goats return to graze again; it also keeps the soil properly fertilized and minimizes the build-up of internal parasites, thereby avoiding reliance on chemical treatments. ““The principal source of nutrition for the goats is our pasture and woodlands,” Kathryn and Dave explain. “We move the herd to a fresh pasture every few days, depending on the quality of grazing and browse available. During the winter, we supplement their diet with alfalfa and sericia lespedeza hay. Everything we do centers around the health of our goats. Healthy, happy goats produce tastier milk in greater abundance. That milk, flowing from the pasture and woodland of our own farm, makes for a cheese that truly reflects the terroir of this time and place.”
Milk from the AWA goats at Prodigal Farm goes into producing a range of award-winning AWA goat cheeses like Chevre, Marinated Feta, Hunkadora, Candide, Field of Creams and Rowdy Gentleman. The milk is also used to make decadent chevre cheesecakes.
AWA products from Prodigal Farm are available at farmers’ markets in North Carolina, as well as other local retail outlets. Check the AWA directory for details. For more information about Prodigal Farm, visit www.prodigalfarm.com, and stay up to date with the most recent happenings on the farm through Facebook and Twitter.