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About Footsteps Farm

Our farm is located in Stonington, Connecticut, on top of Quoketaug Hill -- land that has been in the family since 1712. Our original ancestors came here as farmers in 1654. When my Grandfather Laurence Williams passed away, his farm was divided up within the family, and my wife Sheryl and I now own 15 acres of it. With my two brothers, we own an additional 45 acres.

This type of farm takes more than 15 acres, however, so my two brothers are sharing some of their adjacent land, and my cousin and uncle also let me use some of theirs. We have about 100 acres total available to Footsteps Farm, but we don't intend to use anywhere near that amount.

We are using hardy old-breed animals, and we are following farming practices that our ancestors followed in the 18th century with rotational grazing. Rotational Grazing in more modern terms is called MIG or Management Intensive Grazing. This practice involves having several different animals that compliment each other, and the animals all take turns in the enclosed fields (or paddocks): cows first followed by sheep, then poultry, then swine. Each clears a portion of the growth, eliminates pests, and manures and aerates the soil—all a natural way to maintain a healthy farm. Sometimes all of the animals and fowl are in one pasture at the same time.

Our farm is not certified organic but we think of Footsteps Farm as "beyond organic" (read about what this means). All our animals have free range all day, every day. We do not use herbicides, antibiotics, nor other chemicals on the animals or the farmland. We believe that because they are giving their lives for us, we owe it to them to see they lead happy, healthy, stress-free lives.

More than that, we truly believe in the health benefits of eating products from grass-fed animals. Please read this study on "Health Benefits of Grass-fed Products" (used here by permission, courtesy of Eat Wild). (If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here.) On September 10, 2004, an article about us and our farming philosophy, entitled You Are What You Eat, was published by The Mystic Times (reprinted here with permission of the Editor Mr. Lee Howard, Shoreline Publishing, LLC).

We must first rid the property of the wild choke cherry trees, as just 3 wilted leaves from a cherry tree, if eaten, will kill a cow. Clearing is a hard task. Finding and killing all of the cherry trees is even harder. But once everything is cleared (all by hand, with the help of family, friends, and our animals) we will have 10 pastures in which to rotationally graze our planned herds and flocks (see our long range plans on the next page for more details).

Once we get an area cleared, we have the soil tested and spread lime. The only fertilizers we will use are seaweed and livestock manure. A few years ago we were given 48 skylights if we would just haul them away. We have used these for greenhouses and cold frames. Our latest use was to put a skylight in the south facing end of our new sheep shelter.

Our uniqueness comes from the breeds that we have chosen and what they bring to the farm. We chose these breeds for their hardiness, and because they will eat just about anything and thereby assist with clearing out the overgrown acreage. These are historic breeds; and eventually some of our animals and fowl may be moved to the Denison Homestead Museum in Mystic, CT, which is beginning to develop a working 18th century farm.

We are truly a NEW FARM, but unfortunately the IRS doesn't understand that it takes a start-up farmer raising livestock longer to see a financial return. The IRS requires a farmer to make $2,000.00 per year for two years or $5,000.00 over that period in order to qualify for any tax breaks.

We purchased the first of our Highland Cattle in May, 2003. Our first Dorset Sheep arrived the following September, and our Tamworth Hogs arrived early in the Spring of 2004, as did our Bourbon Red Turkeys. They all joined our existing collection of peacocks, chickens, and Guinea fowl, plus our family dogs and cats.