Rainbeau Ridge is home to more than twenty breeds of animals, including goats, chickens, sheep, cows and other poultry. Specific information about our family follows.
At the heart of the livestock on our farm are our Alpine goats. Our herd is made up of milking does, breeding bucks, wethers (neutered males we just couldn’t part with) and this year’s doe kids.
Beginning with two milkers purchased from a herd in upstate New York in 2002, the herd has grown as the emphasis on cheese making has become a cornerstone of Rainbeau Ridge.
All of the farm's does are names after singers, and Aedle keeps company with Jewel, one of our oldest does, keeps company Natalie and Olivia and many others. Their delightful personalities entertain us daily as we begin each morning on the farm with them, caring for them during their pregnancies and then caring and milking the goats in season.
Yielding about a gallon of milk each, these intelligent creatures weigh in at as much as 130 pounds. Both males and females can sport horns and beards. They range in color from brown to tan to black to black & white—solid, striped or spotted. Their diversity and winning personalities make them one of the favorite breeds on the farm!
Also ruminants, sheep came to RR when a herd of Cotswolds, a rare breed from England but in this country for hundreds of years, was being dispersed.
Wanting to highlight rare breeds in our conservation efforts, taking in the Cotswolds seemed like a natural extension of our mission. Although we don’t milk them for our cheese production, we do shear their fleeces and convert the fiber to spun wool. Adopted from a neighboring farm, Kobi, a Southdown dorset cross became well-known for her survival skills—she was a runt abandoned by her mother and saved by the many ‘mothers’ of RR who adopted her. Now a mother herself, Kobi is a great addition to our herd. Jacob’s sheep also find themselves on the threatened species list—so a pair—Rachel and Leah—was added to our farm so we can build out our spinner’s flock, representing important elements in our own Noah’s ark of fleece animals. One of their offspring, Avery, was so adored by the kids in our kids' programs that he comes when called by his name and never ceases to delight his visitors.
Indy and Mercedes, our original two llamas, are popular for their regal appearances. Despite their reputation as spitters, they reserve that only if they are threatened and are important to us for their fiber and their skills as guard animals. Indy, in particular, takes care of our baby animals after they’ve been separated from their mothers and keeps them safe from predators. Our visitors enjoy the opportunity to get close to Indy and Mercedes by offering small breaths to prove they're not a threat! Our newest addition, Llulu, was also adopted when her mother was too sick to care for her shortly after her birth. Her visitors are lucky enough to feel her soft fiber, even if she does act a little possessive when it's time to shear!
Another important rare breed is our Kerry cow, Destiny, and her daughter, Destiny's Child. A dual purpose breed brought to this country 200 years ago, this compact, horned all black cow is gentle and the perfect size to serve as a family cow. We did not milk her for cheese production, especially since her daughter nursed, but we enjoy their company.
The poultry consist of our flock of laying hens—mostly heavy breeds but include the blue egg-laying Arucanas and other fancy breeds, the chickens each lay about 3-4 eggs per week. After spending the morning in their roomy coops and pens, the chickens get let out to free range on the farm. The benefit of their lifestyle at RR pays off handily in the quality of wonderfully fresh, yellow and omega-3 rich eggs. We have often enjoyed the thrill of watching their chicks hatch in our incubators.
Guinea hens and peafowl roam the grounds freely, performing their insect eating jobs and serving as alarm systems, honking loudly as they announce visitors! Our rare breed turkeys love to strut for visitors and proudly show off their beards, wattles and feathers. Our first one, Fred, was a fine example of how turkeys are meant to be rather than the "butterball", large breasted varieties that we’ve engineered, incapable of breeding on their own. Fred was purchased as an egg on EBay and hatched here at Rainbeau Ridge!
We are pleased to take care of four honeybee colonies on the farm and hope to grow these hives as their strength permits. With our produce gardens and large opportunities for forage, we hope to provide a thriving environment for their strong health.