Mossback Farm News
It’s with a heavy heart that we are sharing our news with you, our customers, friends, and family who have supported our farm since 1999. We have come to the decision to sell our beautiful farm and move to a nearby town.
Some of you may know that Rich was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.) last spring. It came as a shock, since he has always been fit and healthy, but he had a sudden onset of disturbing and life-altering symptoms in March. After the initial “flare” eased up somewhat, we thought we’d continue to stay and farm here in Yamhill, but as time went by, it became apparent that managing 30+ acres is just more than we can do, given his health, and my own physical limitations (which include back and and knee issues).
We started Mossback Farm at our first rented farm in Cornelius in 1999 when I came home one day (surprising Rich!) with 10 chickens, inspired by Joel Salatin to start raising animals in a humane and ecologically sound manner. In 2002 we were fortunate to be able to purchase our current property in the foothills west of Yamhill and Carlton. With the help of many amazing volunteers, we built our first animal barn, and planted several thousand trees. We’ve reforested the seasonal creeks, and eliminated the gullies that channeled water too quickly off the farm. We’ve installed water catchment systems, and a gravity-powered ram pump to pump water for farm animal use, and we dug and installed thousands of feet of pipe to get the water to all of our pastures. We’ve cross-fenced the farm as well, to help manage steer rotations, and keep them out of the creeks. We’ve nurtured and protected the habitat for the endangered Fender’s Blue Butterfly by encouraging the growth of the threatened Kincaid’s lupine through grazing management. We’ve also hosted many WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) and met some really wonderful people, many of who we still stay in touch with.
Over the years, we’ve raised chickens for eggs and meat, as well as pigs, Katahdin sheep and cattle. We’ve provided healthy and humanely-raised animal products for over a thousand families, selling at farmers’ markets and through our CSA and animal share programs. In the early 2000’s we had the largest (and only) all-egg CSA in the Portland area, delivering many dozen eggs each week to several drop sites (Egg Drop!) around Portland. We’ve supported our local neighbors by purchasing and raising calves, along with hay and fermented hay.
The icing on the cake for us has been being honored by the local Soil and Water Conservation District for our conservation work, and also being featured nationally by the USDA Farm Service Agency for our efforts to encourage threatened and endangered species and to practice good management. We’ve never done this work for the rewards or accolades… we’ve done it because we strongly value good stewardship. We feel blessed that we’ve been able to be good caretakers of this beautiful place for the past 15 years.
We also feel blessed that our son has been able to spend his first 10 years growing up on a farm. I know that these days, few kids grow up getting to know a large piece of land, and enjoying the wildness of nature. I hope that this experience is something that informs his own conservation ethic as he gets older. He currently expresses interest in becoming a veterinarian so perhaps our love and respect for animals has been passed along to him.
There are so many things that we’ll miss about being here. The quiet. The interruption of the quiet by howling coyotes. The darkness. The wind through the massive trees. The heavy frost on the winter mornings. The elk, so often seen through our front windows across the road in the winter. The neighbors who look out for each other and help each other when needed. The snow in the winter, making everything even more silent. The epic family snowball fights. The rainbows over the hills in spring. The daisies and the moths in spring. The general feeling of space and tranquil beauty.
There are also things we won’t miss… the yellow jackets, coming in during the winter on the fire wood. Also, the yellow jackets throughout the summer, making outside eating into a battle. The way the sun turns the grass to a crispy brown by August. The endless to-do lists. The driving. Oh, the driving.
Our main reservation about moving out here originally was the distance from town. It’s about 12 minutes down to Yamhill, 15 to Carlton, and 22 to McMinnville. Rich’s commute to Forest Grove for the years he worked there was an hour a day, and mine to Hillsboro was 90 minutes a day. Not terrible, compared to driving in LA traffic, but still, every trip to the market or for any errand guarantees a minimum of 25 minutes of driving. And not only driving, but driving on often icy or foggy roads. And having to avoid hitting deer, elk, and even wild turkeys! We’re glad that D won’t have to drive these curvy roads, and we’re grateful that we’ll be able to walk or bike short distances for errands.
We’re also looking forward to having more free time to spend with friends. And for gardening, something which was difficult here due to the ravenous local deer. And for being able to spend more time together, without worrying about the chores that need to get done. And we’re also looking forward to taking more family trips.
We’ll be putting the farm on the market within a couple of weeks. If you know of anyone who may be interested, please send them our way. Hopefully we will find a new place quickly in Carlton or McMinnville, and will be able to make a smooth transition between homes without having to move more than once. If you know of anyone looking to sell, please let us know!
Our sincerest gratitude goes out to everyone who has supported us over the years. It has been an honor being entrusted with feeding your families. We are happy to point you toward other farms who can supply you with high quality beef, so please contact us if we can help you make connections.
All our best,
Val, Rich and D Blaha