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A Dream of Farming Becomes a Reality for this Kentucky Farm Mom

By Christy Morgan, program analyst with NRCS in Lexington, KY

 

Family helping out at the Diamond Family FarmEmily Diamond is a wife, mother, and farmer. She and her family own and operate the Diamond Family Farm in LaGrange, Kentucky. The farm supplies meat not only to the family, but to the surrounding community as well through a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture enterprise where a community of individuals share both the harvest/production and the risk of farming. Customers are willing to invest in the Diamond Family Farm in order to reap the benefits of the quality meats they produce.

It all started with a dream to have a farm of their own where they could raise healthy meat for their family. The Diamond’s worked hard and saved up until they were able to purchase land and begin farming. “We built it all from scratch,” Emily said, “but looking back, it would have been easier if we would have purchased land with fencing and a barn already in place.” Even with the time and additional money invested to establish fencing, temporary shelters, and purchase livestock, “there has been a lot of satisfaction seeing something go from the ground up, every year becoming more of what you dreamed it would be,” she added.

Emily spent several years in small and large animal veterinary work after receiving a degree in Animal Science Veterinary Technology so she has the knowledge it takes to raise a variety of animals. What started out as just a way to feed the family healthier meat is now a family business that feeds many in the community.  The Diamond Family Farm is home to Sweet Grass Turkey, Freedom Ranger Chickens, meat rabbits, Katahdin Lamb, Jersey/Angus Cows, horses and a variety of other creatures. This variety is part of what makes the 16 acre farm operate so efficiently. Emily explains, “the more I understand about the animal’s natural role on the farm, the more I have been able to utilize their strengths to manage the farm.”

Diamond Family helps on the Farm

Here is what she means:

Sheep eat weeds and other plants in the field that cows won’t eat and the cows clean up the parasites that 

might infect the sheep.   The animals are rotationally grazed so there are ample forages for everyone. The chickens pasture range with the sheep and cows and in playing their natural role, scratch through the manure and spread it around. The chickens often jump on the backs of the cows and eat bugs off them which takes care of fleas and ticks that may infect the dogs.  The manure from the rabbits is used to fertilize the fields and makes a good medium for growing worms which are fed to the chickens. The dogs take care of any and all predators and the barn cats eat the mice and attack any rodent that gets into the chicken coop to get to the eggs.  The natural cycle is what makes this small farm operate so well.

In March of this year, the Oldham County Conservation District recognized Diamond Family Farm as the 2014 Cooperator of the Year; an award given to those who go above and beyond to protect and conserve the natural resources within the county.

So what is Emily’s advice for others who dream of farming for themselves, and possibly others one day?  She first recommends taking care of the fields – in other words, practice soil health. Technical assistance from agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) work to assist land users in accomplishing these goals.  “Healthy fields are worth their weight in gold,” she said, “without quality pastures, your animals won’t be as healthy and you’ll be feeding in the most expensive manner possible using hay and grain.” Emily’s goal for the family farm has been to get back to the basics of good food from happy animals and she believes that raising animals on healthy pastures is the key to reaching that goal. “I let nature take its course by raising the animals in a natural setting for their breed, like allowing cows to care for their calves and only milking them when they are ready to wean the babies,” she said. Emily believes that rushing production, “eliminates taste and healthy eating.”

Diamond Family receives award

So although Emily is in charge of the daily operations of the family farm from fencing to feeding to hauling, the rest of the family plays a big role as well.  After school, the kids help

with various chores around the farm. Emily explains, “My husband works full time so he’s my weekend warrior handling all the heavy lifting and tractor work.” The Diamond Family Farm is truly a family business.

To find out more about the importance of healthy soils when it comes to healthy pastures, visit www.ky.nrcs.usda.gov, or contact your local USDA Service Center (http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app). 

 

 

More on the Diamond Family Farm

Sheep on Diamond Family FarmDiamond Family Farm services the Louisville area, but have had customers come from as far as Columbus Ohio. They offer a great array of meat that is antibiotic free, hormone free, steroid free, grass fed, lovingly cared for livestock.  

Follow them on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/kygrassfed or visit their webpage @ www.kygrassfed.com