Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you started farming/baking?
(Brian) - I wanted a family business, specifically niche agri-business. My parents and I negotiated until we found a common desire - alpacas. We entered into the business focusing on fiber. At that time, it was a unique business model as most farms were raising animals to sell. I was in OH at the time and relocated to St Louis, where my parents lived. We found property after an 11 month search, in May of 2008 the first load of alpacas arrived. We grew our herd of both fiber and breeding animals. In 2011, I diversified the farm to include Tunis sheep and Belted-Galloway Cows. In 2015, we sold off the cows and concentrated on sheep and alpaca production. I asked Terri to move from OH to the ranch in 2010.
(Terri) – I grew up on a farm in Ohio, so that is second nature. I was a full time realtor in Ohio. When
the market took a down turn I started canning to keep busy and have another source of income. I have always enjoyed feeding people, more than anything else in this life. When I moved to be with Brian, we continued the canning but needed something to supplement that product. What started as a secondary part of our business, the baking, has become (most weeks) the main player.
Briefly describe what you produce.
We raise alpacas for their fiber, sheep for their wool and grass-fed lamb. We usually have gardens that
supply peppers and tomatoes.
Hummingbird Kitchen produces 5 USDA approved jellies, with another 6-10 ready to submit to the USDA.
We produce artisan breads, scones, cookies, bars, soft pretzels, cake bombs, muffins and tarts. We
produce custom orders of other baked items and we also cater small events.
Brian, could you tell us a bit about your farming methods?
All of our animals are grass-fed. We utilize rotational grazing for the alpacas. We are implementing a
rotational system for the sheep now that our flock has grown. We do supplement some pelletized feed on occasion, especially during lambing season. We have a 26x28 greenhouse and produce about 140 lbs of barley fodder per day, September through June. If required by drought, we can run warm season fodder to provide forage the entire year. It is a hydroponic system that only requires water (no other inputs). We chose this method of grass production after the drought of 2012 as a method to control input costs. For our gardens, we utilize composted manure (12 + months) and very seldom, if ever, use pesticides. We never use herbicides for weed control. While we are not certified organic, we use organic farming principles.
What does a typical day look like on your farm, or in your kitchen?
Farm - feeding animals, checking animals through the day, harvesting fodder and replanting seed for harvest the following week.
Hummingbird Kitchen – In the kitchen we build from beginning of the week to the end. Since we are in a tourist area, the end of the week is baking out for orders and events. The beginning of the week is prep work, canning product or planning for the end of the week. Sometimes, with a quick change of clothes in lambing season, to check on animals all through the day.
What is your biggest challenge?
(Brian) - I have an off-the-farm job. There are days when being close would benefit both the ranch and
(Brian & Terri)
Managing time. Except during lambing season, there usually aren't any conflicts between raising animals and creating product. There are days, though when it is a balancing act to get everything done for orders while being a good shepherd(ess).
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
(Brian) - seeing people enjoy what we’ve created.
(Terri) – as with Brian, seeing someone “light up” when the taste our product and enjoy
Look for Terri's delicious bread in your shares next week!