For the past 40+ years the agricultural paradigm in the United States has been to do away with small farms.  The rural infrastructure has been decimated.  Focus has been on quantity, not quality, which has created an abundance of food that is less than optimally nutritious, but that is cheap – thus creating price pressures the small producer cannot overcome.  It is not viable for a small farm to compete in the commodity markets.
To be successful, the small farm needs to add value to its products – providing demonstrably better nutrition, or creating attractive niche products from the raw materials, whether food or durable goods.  It also needs to be versatile and diversified, to not rely on a single crop or product, thus to be resilient to a season’s failure of a given component.  It needs to be run with awareness, to be able to adjust over time as circumstances change.  It is in essence the antithesis of the industrial agricultural model.

Ecological Farming
At River's Blessings, we strive for maximum health - of the soil and water, the plants, the animals, and all people touched by the farm - those working on the farm as well as customers.  Our goal is to synergistically weave the natural characteristics and behaviors of each layer together to create a vibrant and sustainable whole.
We have sheep - Icelandic sheep, a wonderful breed that is one of the world's oldest and purest breeds of sheep. Throughout its 1100 years of history, the Icelandic breed has been truly triple-purpose, treasured for its meat, fiber and milk.
We have cows - Black Angus, Limousin, Scottish Highland.  The beeves are happy to eat grasses too tall or uninteresting to the sheep.  Also, different parasites affect the sheep versus the cows, so having the different species follow each other through the pastures further reduces the parasite load overall as the cows eat the sheep parasites and vice versa.

We have chickens and ducks on the pastures to take advantage of their
delight in eating bugs to help keep parasites down, resulting in more
fertile pastures as their manure is added to the soil, healthier sheep
and cows, and the most fabulous eggs you've ever eaten.

We have Maremmas - livestock guard dogs that help us live within our
larger ecosystem, helping to keep the myriad predators at bay.  We have geese also, to help guard the ducks.

We continually work towards pastures that have the diversity needed by the ruminants to stay healthy, and manage the ruminants on the pastures to improve both their health and that of the pastures themselves.

Success in Farming

So what is “success?”  It does not mean wild riches.  It means finding a definition of “enough” that results in joy for those involved.  We need to be able to cover our costs, living expenses.  We need the potential for extra for the occasional whim.  But true success will be found in the deep joy coming from the farm itself – the animals, the beauty, the diversity, and abundant health.