Theme: animals

News from the Farm | August 1, 2022

What are the furry, feathered, and hooved residents of the farm up to as we pick, wash/sort, and pack the summer’s bounty? [Read more…]

News from the Farm | May 2, 2022

This past week our sheep got their annual shearing. Midday on Thursday I headed up to the sheep barn to survey the scene. Rye graciously answered my (many) questions while ably shearing our flock and I’m condensing and passing along that information here. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 14, 2022

Oakley, Becca, Roxy, and Waylon, photobombed by a sheep

Hey there Beetniks,

It’s been quite a while since I wrote to you last. [Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 13, 2021

Andrew recently declared September to be the April of the fall. He meant that like April, this month is a crucial time to prepare for the next season. In April, we’re always busy getting ready for the summer. Right now, seeds must be sown, transplants put in the ground, and new plants watered and weeded in order for us to have crops in the fall and winter. All of these are key tasks over the next few weeks while we also continue to harvest our late summer produce. But this week had had accents of April even in the hot (106 on Tuesday and Wednesday) and dusty weariness of September. Why? [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 20, 2018

Photo by Diane Rothery Photography.

We recently received a certified letter from the Central Valley Water Board, an agency striving “To preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of California’s water resources…” The Letter states that Full Belly Farm is in violation of the Confined Animals Regulatory Program!  Since Full Belly has no confined animals, we had to do some investigation and in a hurry too, because the letter was full of legal Directives and allusions to fines.  “Please read this letter carefully” is the first thing it said, and we did!

Our Full Belly Farm egg-laying-hen program is actually something to brag about.  We have 3 to 4 groups of hens at any one time, with about 200 layers in each group.  They stay in paddocks that are about 25,600 square feet in size.  The hens have a movable structure to roost in at night, and every 4 or 5 days, when they’ve eaten the bugs and seeds in their paddock they get to move to a completely new site. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 6, 2018


Last Friday, someone found a young barn owl dead on the ground in the walnut orchard.  Maybe it was one of the young owls that we had been watching in their first flights from the upstairs porch at Amon and Jenna’s house.  These baby owls hatched out last spring in a cubby above the porch and the family made it their home, creating a litter on the floor of their droppings, to such an extent that it was difficult to walk out and watch them without stepping on their pellets. Standing on the porch, we would look up at them, and they would line up and look down at us. We know that most barn owls die young – 70% in their first year – so the babies and their parents have been a source of great delight as we watched and worried over them.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | January 8, 2018

With short days over the winter break, many of us were able to enjoy sunrise, sunset, and incredible clear starry skies in between, reminding us of the mysteries of our planet, as well as of human nature.  Here’s hopes for a peaceful and healthy year in 2018.  We will do our best to spread that spirit.

During the last few weeks of 2017, a few things happened on the organic policy front that are worth noting. We will discuss one of those things in this article, having to do with the welfare of organically raised livestock. Full Belly is home to a flock of sheep, several pigs and as of 12/10/17 a delightful group of 8 healthy piglets!  While many of our CSA members and farmers market customers have let us know that they would rather we not include farm animals in our production system, we have decided that the animals are an important element of our healthy farm, and we treat the farm animals with care and respect.  One of the most active responsibilities during the break, was the pressing daily need to care for the chickens, sheep, pigs, cows, goats, cats and dogs that make the farm their home. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 7, 2016

Last week we announced in this newsletter that limited quantities of Full Belly organically raised, pasture fed meat are available to our CSA members.  In response, several members wrote to us questioning the sustainability of raising animals – doesn’t’ it use a lot of land and a lot of water? Is it really ethical?  Here are some of our thoughts…

Thank you to our members for their thoughts about the Full Belly animal program.  I am one of the owners of the farm and also one of the animal managers, so I have lots of insight into your question! Also as a vegetarian for 30 plus years (now eating only Full Belly meat for the past few years) I have an interesting perspective from that viewpoint as well. I think we should maybe take each species separately. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | February 22, 2016

Limited Amount of Pasture Raised Organic Meat Available

The domestic animals living at Full Belly Farm have an excellent diet!  It is not only rich in cover crops (with a mix of legumes and grasses), but it also includes a steady stream of organic vegetable culls, and grazing time on the plants left over in fields where we have finished our harvest.  The animals are moved frequently from pasture to pasture, enclosed by movable fencing.

Because animals can eat grasses and culls that humans can’t, we think of them as a very important part of the agricultural cycle, and also as a link in the chain of the food supply.  When we talk with researchers about “yields” of our organic crops, we encourage them to think of more than the actual crop that they see growing in a Full Belly field at a given time.  Each of our fields produces cover crops (fixing nitrogen and returning carbon to the soil), and also yields animal protein in addition to vegetables, nuts, fruits and flowers. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | April 6, 2015

April 1st Shenanigans

A few days ago I went to say “hi” to our pigs.  There’s a whole family in the pasture next to my house – Mom, Dad, Grandma and 11 piglets. Someone had turned a sprinkler on to keep the pasture green.  Some of the water was falling on a slope, and the slope was getting muddy as it absorbed the water.  Mama came walking up the slope towards me, perhaps to get a scratch on her snout? No, not a scratch on her snout – instead she lay down in the mud and wallowed around, spreading the mud all over herself. Next she positioned herself just right, across the top of the slope and went slip-sliding down the hill.  This was no accident.  As soon as she could get back on her feet, she walked up the hill and did it again!  After 5 or 6 repeats she was done, and just lay in the mud, enjoying her fun and foolishness on April Fools Day.

Judith Redmond

News from the Farm | March 2, 2015

 Lambing Time

The trick is to be extremely quiet. Don’t slam the truck door, don’t make a squeak as you squeeze through the gate and don’t, whatever you do, turn on your flashlight yet! The night check is all about listening first – your ears alone will tell you right away what your check has in store for you. There might be a ewe cooing to her freshly born lamb over here, while another ewe is maahh-ing desperately over there – has she lost sight of her lambs in the orchard, is there a predator nearby, or is she about to go into labor? Sometimes one ewe will give birth to three lambs and another ewe is absolutely sure those three lambs belong to her, and at 3 o’clock in the morning, it’s up to you to figure out which ewe they actually belong to. Sometimes there are two ewes that have obviously given birth, four lambs around their legs, and you witness all four lambs nursing from both ewes. Sometimes there are a few fresh lambs in one corner and no ewes taking ownership of them. Sometimes there is deafening silence, which means you can head right back to bed. (That one doesn’t happen very often!) I’m talking about lambing season, folks, and for the animal team here at the farm, this season’s almost over.

[Read more…]

News from the Farm | January 19, 2015

There are few seasons on the farm that we meet with such jittery anticipation as lambing season.  For the next few weeks there will be a flurry of “getting ready” tasks as we approach the February date when the first lambs are born. Fences must be set up for the hugely pregnant moms, greenhouses constructed for housing the tiny new lambs and their mothers, supplies purchased for any lambing emergencies. There are 85 ewes this year that will be giving birth in a one month time period to over 120 babies which can get really chaotic if you are not prepared! We have been raising this many sheep and lambs for over 20 years but still feel taken by surprise each year as they begin.

One of the hardest things is “psyching” ourselves up for the sleepless nights ahead. Despite the fact that 90% of the lambs will be born without any fanfare there are potential issues that can arise and we must be there any time, day or night, to help out. We do lamb checks every two to three hours during the night and as frequently throughout the day. Rainy nights and the full moon will definitely bring on a barrage of lambs – a well documented fact known by shepherds throughout the ages – so we have extra recruits on those nights. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | September 1, 2014

 Fall Babies!

We have a real soft spot for babies around here. We anticipate their arrival with much eagerness and give them lots of love and treats.  All of our new babies add something special to the farm, and remind us how lucky we are to have such a close connection to the cycle of life.


Pinto Bean gave birth to a healthy baby boy calf last Friday. He is perfect – complete with a dipped white tail.  [Read more…]

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… [Read more…]

News from the Farm | April 21, 2014

Springtime at the Farm

Full Belly Farm is bustling with spring activities.  We’ve had plenty of warm weather and within a few days after the last rain, the ground was drying out and the fields were busy.  This is the time of year when the cottonwood trees along the creek start cottoning – so billows of the white fluff, full of cottonwood seeds, blow in the air and settle in every corner.

[Read more…]

News from the Farm | April 7, 2014

Lambing Season

To all of you who have chosen to be Full Belly Farm CSA members, I imagine that at least part of that decision resulted from you thinking that our farm is somehow more just or fair than most other farms. However, if I asked you “What is justice?” I imagine very few people would be able to readily answer that question. And how can we say that Full Belly is more just, if we don’t even know what we are talking about?

I don’t have the answers to any of life’s biggest questions for you (at least not this week), but the farm has provided an excellent space for thinking about these questions in brand new contexts for me. One of my projects in particular, bottle-feeding our bummer lambs, has brought up a multitude of moral questions for me. For those of you who don’t know, bummer lambs are what we call the lambs that the mother ewes reject. I have bottle fed our 9 bummer lambs, 3 times a day for several weeks, which has given me a lot of time to think about the project. Here are some of the questions I have been wrestling with:  [Read more…]



Eleven baby pigs were born in the wee hours of the morning on June 29th, 2013.  We let them stay down in the shade under a cottonwood tree where Mama was comfortable.