Are you wondering what it’s like to work with Whatcom CD? Read on to learn about Lydia and Jared Strand and their farm planning experience!
Q: How long have you lived here in Whatcom County? And on this property? A: We have lived in Whatcom County and on this property for just over two years.
Q: What brought you to Whatcom County? A: Our daughter was attending WWU and we visited for graduation. After deciding to move back to Washington we were lucky enough to find an available property that was in this area. Living here we get the best of everything- we are surrounded by like-minded farmers in a close knit community and have access to amenities that you might only find in a big city without all the big city challenges. Being able to see the stars at night and have mountains visible in every direction and the abundant flora and fauna are huge reasons we love living here.
Q: What types of animals are you raising? Crops? A: Registered Icelandic and Shetland Sheep
Q: How did you hear about this program? What were your initial thoughts? A: Jared heard about WCD through the Whatcom County Farmers Trading Post Facebook Group. We were very excited to have access to a variety of resources that would assist in improving our pasture and livestock management on a new property in a new area.
Q: When you first started working with Whatcom CD, what was your initial impression of the prescribed farm plan or Best Management Practices? A: The farm plan and best management practices were already in line with how we have been managing our flock and grazing land since we started raising sheep in 2010 so we were able to build on that cooperatively to enhance and focus on more specific management intensive grazing practices and principles.
Q: What aspects of the Farm Planning program were you most interested in? A: Pasture health and rehabilitation, including forage quality and soil tilth enhancement; maintaining high animal welfare standards, manure management in a wet climate and cost share programs.
Q: What changes have you noticed, now that you have installed Best Management Practices on your property? A: Our pastures are benefiting from an improved managed grazing system- we are seeing healthier and more vibrant pastures and are gaining the ability to utilize the pastures more effectively during slower growing periods and later into the fall before the rains come.
Q: Were there aspects of Farm Plan that surprised you? A: That with even a minimal amount of pasture improvement from year to year we could vastly increase our stocking density, allowing us to grow our flock while still keeping the pastures vibrant and healthy.
Q: Would you recommend working with Whatcom CD? A: In our Beginning Shepherding courses we recommend to every attendee to connect with their local conservation district as soon as they can and before bringing sheep onto their land to assess their property and soil, get access to information specific to their soil types and have someone to ask questions of who is not a regulatory or reporting agency. This helps them to get their new venture off to the best possible start for the land and the livestock. The biggest benefits to working with WCD are the ongoing support and resources and the ability to connect and learn from other farmers and shepherds in the area who share their experiences, management practices, and values around sustainability, regenerative agriculture and humane animal welfare, or as we say “Happy Sheep, Healthy Soil”.
Q: Is there anything else about the process you would like to share about your experience collaborating with Whatcom CD? A: Don’t wait to connect with WCD, the process is really empowering as goals are broken down into manageable year over year projects. Additionally, the access to information on available grants and low interest loans available locally and nationally can be a significant game changer for small farms.