News from the Farm | May 5, 2014

A Love Letter to Farming

Farming has become my religion. Ever since I stumbled onto Full Belly Farm, I haven’t once thought that someday I won’t be farming. It is a lifestyle that suits me marvelously; I feel a tinge of loss and insecurity when I leave the farm for more than a few days. My sense of purpose is grounded in these rich soils, it comes flowing through my fingers as I tug on our milk cow’s teats each morning, it bursts forth from coop doors as our chickens wake to fresh pastures, it squeals with delight as our piglets slurp their mid-day milk and gobble up their beet greens, it is climbing the grand oak trees that protect my home from Cache Creek, every one of them growing tilted South – toward the sun.

What makes me the happiest is my work. After two years as an intern, I was fortunate enough to start this year as an official employee of Full Belly Farm, wholly focusing on our animal program. Last month, Judith gave you a peek at how we manage our animals here at the farm. Well, I’m the one that gets to move those chickens, pigs, and goats all around our farm so the weed-eater can stay in the tool shed! Everything I do is on behalf of the animals. It is amazing, but it is also a lot of work to keep everyone clean, fed, watered, and shaded every single day no matter the circumstances. Of course, I am not alone in this endeavor…

My dear friend and colleague, Antonio Cruz, the farm’s shepherd, who cares deeply for his sheep and all living creatures helps me on a daily basis. Rye, who is a secret genius and has taught me almost everything I know about farming, co-manages our 1,200 hens with me. Dru Rivers, whose wisdom in the animal field is invaluable to me and whose friendship I simply cannot do without, regularly fills my brain with knowledge she’s gained from her thirty+ years of working with animals. Together, with help from many others, the four of us make it possible to bring pasture-raised, organic, and truly loved lamb, pork, and eggs to your table.

You’ll be tickled to know that we absolutely spoil our animals. Aside from an organic layer crumble we have to buy for its trace minerals and nutrients (for the hens), 100% of our animals’ feed is grown on the farm. Their diets include sprouted barley or milo, wheat soaked in milk, freshly cracked corn, vibrant clover and rye grass, and of course, all the organic produce their little hearts desire!

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables are produced on our farm every year, not all of which is fit to put in your boxes or sell to stores, or even for us farmers to eat. This is my gold. I rush to the compost bins each morning, brimming with anticipation for what I’ll find to give my hungry chickens and pigs.


For instance, when we pick cabbage, we remove any outer leaves with holes or other flaws before we sell them, and I end up with bins and bins of cabbage leaves, which the chickens, goats, cows, and sheep love. Summer is so sweet for it means melons, which all the animals on our farm happily devour. And winter for them means winter squash, which is the cold-weather alternative to melons, not quite as sweet, but just as tasty.


These days, Pinto Bean – our milk cow – enjoys too-soft carrots at milking time, Candy – our sow – grunts with satisfaction as she munches on soggy salad mix, and the hens shriek for the old strawberries I toss them while I collect their eggs in the afternoon. Each season is bountiful in its own way and is thus respected and cherished by us all, human and animal alike. So, as you are chowing down on the delicious produce in your box this week, take a moment to think about the animals here at Full Belly Farm – basking in the Spring sunshine, grazing lush pastures, and eating chard, lettuce, and scarlet turnips, just like you!

— Becca von Trapp

Becca is a Vermont native who has transplanted herself quite nicely in California. We feel so lucky that she is a part of our farm!