News From the Farm | October 4, 2021

NOTE: Farming is both physically and emotionally difficult work; it’s filled with plenty of heartbreak and sadness to accompany the positive and awe-inspiring moments. In addition to produce, we also raise animals and this brings even more emotional highs and lows. We don’t always talk about those harder moments and instead often focus on the cuteness of the babies or on how they help our soil fertility. But we think it’s important to talk about the whole experience. Kendall, one of our interns, wrote this week’s News From the Farm about her experience working with our animals. If you aren’t comfortable reading about animal death, we would recommend skipping this week’s News from the Farm.


At the beginning of May 2021 I was welcomed into the Full Belly Farm intern family. It’s been a crazy and educational five months so far and I’ve loved (almost) every second.

Kendall attending to a happy member of the flock.

I was hired to join the animal caretaker team to help take care of our sheep, chickens, cows, goats, and pigs. During the interview I was warned that it’s a position with a repetitive routine and most of your time spent alone with animals, so I knew it’d be my dream job!  My first month here was filled with spring babies! A new litter of piglets, a couple hundred chicks, and lambs. It’s been so much fun to watch these little babies turn into fat piggies, egg-laying hens and lambs as big as their moms.

Each day is a routine of the same chores but it is by no means repetitive. Every day there’s something different to keep me on my toes, like moving animals, or problem solving to protect them from predators, or an oddball egg in a coop. I’ve learned how to raise and care for all these animals to help them live their best lives on open green pastures or leftover crop rows filled with veggies. At times, I’ve definitely felt jealous of their treatment, like in the summer when the chickens get buckets of ice to cope with over 100-degree days. Full Belly is an incredibly unique farm to learn and practice animal husbandry on because of its diversity. The crops feed the animals, the animals feed the soil for the crops and the plants and animals feed all of us. It’s very holistic and unfortunately not a common practice for bigger farms so I am very grateful for the experience.

There are difficult days though. We’ve had problems with a mountain lion this year and one night last week a mountain lion killed two more of our sheep and badly attacked a third sheep but didn’t kill it. I waited with her while Antonio brought the truck around to move her. She was a lamb that we bottle fed this spring so she’s more comfortable with people and enjoyed cuddles and pets and I was happy to provide, despite the bad condition she was in. Her injuries were severe enough that it was clear she wasn’t going to live long, so along with Antonio I helped kill her to speed the process along, and then afterwards we butchered her. It was a difficult and upsetting day, but I oddly felt better after the entire butchering process, knowing she’s out of her misery and being used to feed people. And I’m glad that we’re exploring new options (like a guard dog) in our effort to keep our sheep safe while coexisting with the wildlife that live in this area.

I came for the animals, but the farm is filled with wonderful people too, who help me get through the less fun days. The group of interns all take turns making lunch and we swim in the creek (when there’s actually water). All the other farmers are so kind and welcoming and so, so patient with my Spanish. I’ve learned so much and have had so many great experiences with the animals, people, and farm as a whole in just my first couple months and can’t wait for what’s to come in the changing seasons!

— Kendall Leggett, Full Belly Farm Intern