Foxloft Farm represents 98 acres of land in Southeastern Minnesota, stewarded by Foxfeather and her husband Roman. Foxloft Farm is focused on raising grass-based, rotation-grazed livestock in a sustainable fashion.
In 2015, we added Tibetan yak to our farm. We have one bull and eight dri (females). Why yak? Yak are well suited for our harsh Minnesota winters and can dig through the snow for forage even in the depths of winter. They eat about 1/3 of what a cow does and are very hardy.If you would like to be notified when we have yak for sale, signup for our yak-specific mailing list:
Ossabaw Island Hogs and Mangalitsa Pigs
We have a small group of purebred Ossabaw Island hogs and Mangalitsas. These smaller, more primitive breeds of pig are great on pasture and dealing with our extreme weather.
Poultry: Heritage Chickens, Turkeys, Ducks, and Geese
We have a small flock of various heritage breed poultry, focusing on Jersey Giant chickens and Sweetgrass turkeys.
I love nature and enjoy working with animals of all kinds. My work reflects this passion. I am always learning new things - I attend conferences, courses, volunteer and keep a variety of pets and livestock. My dream was to have land where I could work with the creatures I admire and manage it in a way that is respectful to nature.
In 2011, this dream finally came true. My husband and I purchased an 80 acre farm in bluff country of southern Minnesota. The place is wonderful - it is quite diverse, with both forest and fields, rocky cliffs and open spaces. Three-fourths of a mile of protected trout stream meander through it - we have seen some great big trout in the crystal clear waters!
The land also has its issues. The fields were farmed too close to the stream, which lead to massive erosion during spring floods. Big chunks of soil have been washed out by the stream, which is not good for the farm nor for the water. A lot of the original woodland gave way to invasive species such as box elders. The buildings and their surroundings were abandoned for a long time, and are full of trash. We already cleaned 16 wrecked cars and multiple dumpsters of junk off the property.
Follow Our Adventures
In 2015 we added another 18 acres and a farm house so we could finally move from the suburbs to the country. We have a blog at Tumblr. We post pictures and videos of our land stewardship efforts!
One of our first steps has been establishing an apiary. We find the bees fascinating and are learning as much as we can about them. We are happy to be hosting these amazing little pollinators! As of spring 2016 we are expanding to ten colonies of bees on our farm.
Native Prairie Restoration
Update! As of 2015 we have restored 2 acres of native prairie, planting over 50 different species of wildflowers and grasses!
Our plans for this land are big. We would like to perform prairie restoration on the fields to obtain good ground cover and to start re-building the soil. We want to increase the plant biodiversity - currently we see only a very few herbicide-resistant species growing on the fields that we pulled out of production. A re-established prairie should lead to a more attractive habitat for many species of insects and birds. Since we do not plan to till or spray the land with chemicals, we hope to recruit help of fungi and microorganisms that decompose the plant matter, so we would not have to use fertilizers. We have been very inspired by people's work with permaculture and beyond-organic principles to create sustainable, beneficial farms. I was particularly unhappy with the two most common options for farmland such as this:
- To crop it and try to pull maximum yield from it regardless to the impact on the soil and surrounding environment, including the stream
- To designate it a nature preserve, excluding people altogether and taking away the potential of food production.
Once the prairie gets established, our favorite critters can arrive. I have Sami blood and I would like to honor and follow the traditions of my ancestors by having a reindeer herd on the land. Since we do not want to overgraze, we will need to match the size of the herd with what the land can provide. Reindeer are well suited to our environment here, as they can resist the cold Minnesota winters very well and are capable of foraging even with snow covering the plants. They are small, inoffensive, easily tamed and very popular especially around Christmas. They can provide so much - including the thick, fatty milk that can give rise to specialty cheeses, velvet from their antlers for medicinal purposes, the antlers themselves for arts and crafts. Eventually, their hides can be used for drum making, the meat is delicious, lean, and healthy; even the hooves can be used for making rattles or other crafts.
A big step above the caribou when it comes to complexity of caring for them are muskox. I do no expect being ready for them soon, but the muskox is my ultimate dream farm animal. Minnesota is one of the few states cold enough to keep muskox, besides Alaska.
I also plan to run a small bird of prey sanctuary, getting back into wildlife rehabilitation. Many birds of prey get permanently injured and are no longer capable of hunting on their own. They end up in raptor centers, that often do not have sufficient capacity to take all the birds in. I would like to work with these birds, provide a place where they can live and help educate the public about them. We also have the space to build unique aviaries which can provide a space for birds transitioning back to the wild that need special care and the ability to stretch their wings and fly.
Besides the animals, there is a slew of supporting projects to work on. We want to establish an orchard to produce fruit for us, our animals, and local wildlife. The prairie restoration would greatly benefit from an apiary - bees to provide pollination for the wildflowers, our garden and trees, and neighboring farms. We are experimenting with growing shiitake and other mushrooms both for eating and to establish beneficial mycelium in the soil to prevent erosion. Mushrooms are capable of transporting nutrients to areas where they are needed, serving as a vast underground food network for the plants to benefit from - reducing the need for additional fertilizers and maintaining a more natural ecosystem. No one tilled or fertilized the native prairie but it was lush with life and bounty.
If that all was not enough, we would also like to establish a pond to provide fish and waterfowl and to help manage the spring floods that seem to be increasing in intensity.
We have a huge amount of work and learning in front of us. We do not expect to be done anytime soon, actually, it seems this is going to be a project of our lifetime. We are just getting started and you can be there with us!