Animals & Produce
We love our animals, and they live a great life.
They also do important jobs: the sheep graze the grass and cover crop in the vineyards and olive groves, while the pigs till hard ground, uprooting the Bermuda grass and weeds, and the chickens come along behind and eat the seeds to keep the bad plants from coming back.
As an added bonus, their healthy, diverse diets make for spectacular eggs, pork, and lamb!
Chickens are easy. And hysterical.
We have flocks on both farms, where they roam relatively free-range during the day and are (mostly) protected at night from the coyotes, bobcats, and hawks that live here too. The size of the flock ebbs and flows as chicks are born and older birds pass. Since they are outdoors rather than in a temperature- and light-managed facility, egg production varies with the seasons.
If you've never had an egg from a free-ranging chicken, you can't imagine the rich, deep color of the yolk, or the flavor — it's a completely different experience from a store-bought egg whether you fry it, scramble it, or use it to make aoli. Magic!
We've devoted space on both our farms to growing fruit trees, vegetables, grains, and plants that attract and protect beneficial insects, primarily for the people of DaVero.
Nothing is grown in "commercial" quantities, although we do supply produce to a select group of Bay Area restaurants. And our Club members are always welcome to come pick for their own use.
We have a small herd of pigs at our tasting room farm. That land had been farmed conventionally for years, with little regard for the soil, and was effectively dead when we bought it. Pigs, in addition to the meat and manure they produce, have an unparalleled ability to tear up hard ground and rejuvenate the soil. Ours have done an admirable job.
Our first pigs were Gloucester Old Spots, a heritage breed known for great disposition and big bellies — where the bacon comes from; why else would you raise pigs!?
They're also great mothers, who simply love having their belly rubbed when they're pregnant. There's nothing quite like the experience of having a 450-pound animal roll over on its back when you approach! (When they aren't pregnant, they really like being rubbed behind their ears.)
They really like people, so if you're in the area, it's worth stopping by to say hi.
Our great friend Mimi Luebberman of Windrush Farms was kind enough to pass along eight of her fantastic Shetland ewes, all pregnant, who formed the foundation of our herd.
This breed is very short in stature, which is great because they eat the groundcover but don't get up into the vines or olive trees as larger sheep will do. And they are incredibly friendly and docile — we can move them from field to field just by offering a little corn.
We surround the grazing area with a portable, solar-powered electric fence, not to keep them from getting away, but rather to keep the coyotes from getting in — it turns out they like lamb as much as humans do.
Speaking of which, the single best companion to our Sagrantino is grilled lamb. So we selectively harvest the herd with the help of John Taylor, the last itinerant butcher in Sonoma County, and enjoy it at home and for our farm events.