On July 17, we biked up to this lovely scene after some nagging thoughts that maybe we'd made the wrong turn. No, it's just that this haven of gelato, brick oven pizza, delicious dairy, fresh produce, and weekly live music seems like it must have been transplanted down those gravel roads, surrounded by the Chequamegon National Forest. North Star Homestead Farms is a gem, and this bicycle tour is the only reason I'm not still there, learning from the amazing farmers, Ann and daughters Laura and Kara, who run this stunning sustainable farm.
In addition to Laura's poultry brigade, Kara cares for the flock of dairy sheep (evening milking pictures are further down). Other animals on the farm include Kunekune pigs, a breed of pigs know for being friendly and well-suited to being on pasture as they require a very low amount of protein and don't root as intensively, leaving the pasture alive and well. The farmers also have bees, the happy pollinators.
And in addition to all of the animals, they also run a vegetable CSA! Around every corner, these farmers have a dozen more projects going on. Their fenced in veggies provide shares for around 40 families and allow them to stock their on-farm Market (in the Creamery building) as well as a local farmers' market on Saturdays. Not to mention the aquaponics production system they have that produces Tilapia and fresh greens year-round!
But for as busy as they must be to get all of the animals cared for and veggies weeded and harvested, all three women were remarkably friendly and willing to answer any questions about the rationale behind the practices they use on their farm. Kara said people sometimes ask why they have so many things going on- wouldn't they rather simplify? She responds by saying that there's nothing she would want to remove. The way they have their farm, everything has a purpose, and the animals and plants depend on each other. They obviously love what they do.
Laura, a musician herself, sets up a beautiful stage for their Saturday live music. In the picture above, Kara makes delicious brick oven pizzas to-order next to the stage. It was a wonderful place for Paul to play, and I enjoyed sitting back and watching the sun dip behind the trees as the evening wore on.
When I expressed interest in tagging along after the concert for evening chores and milking, Kara was happy to take me along and explain everything as she went. Of course, I loved Kara's mode of transportation for herding the sheep in for their evening milking! She is supremely knowledgeable about and attentive to all of the animals she cares for, and I tried to grasp onto as many new concepts as I could while we spent the evening hours together.
- Jen Tillman