Diversified Farming at Banks Mountain Forest Farm
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Or, order online at www.ruralheritage.com. A few months ago We introduced you to Bob Richens who with his wife, Stuart, Built the Banks Mountain Forest Farm in western North Carolina Where they raise livestock in harmony with the forest they manage. We showed you how they harvest timber from their woods using Suffolk Punch Draft horses, and used the timber for a variety of projects Including constructing the timber frame buildings on their farm.
Today we're going to learn more about the buildings they built As well as the livestock they raise. Welcome to another episode of Rural Heritage TV. I'm your host, Joe Mischka. We came here 23 years ago.
We came here because we Like the place, but my wife is an environmental educator, And had been for twenty plus years, Prior to us coming here. My education is in forestry. Because I wanted to work in the forest. And so
We brought those passions, you know, With us here to western North Carolina to make our home. And once we decided to grow some of our own food, we knew We needed a bigger piece of land to do that on. And we were able to buy this forest Across the street from where we bought our house.
So then we sold that house, Moved onto this piece of land, lived in a camper and started Clearing the spot for a barn. And we did that with our horses. And our Horse friends and we would have Horse logging days and we'd mill and Build and keep doing that until, you know, we had all Of our buildings that are timber framed constructed, And just built with our own hands, And our friends helping us and our community supporting us. Our forest here are perfect for Timber frame material because we have oak for the big beams And posts and then we have poplar for the Siding and rafters and floor joists, And you know, sheeting on the roof and pretty much Everything we needed to complete the barn. Inside and out. So when we bought the piece of property I told my wife we have enough money to either build a house or a barn. Which One do you want? And she said, hands down, I want a barn.
So, I said that's great, And I was looking for Draft horse equipment in Ohio and my friend John showed me a brand new bank barn Timber frame and I said well that's the kind of barn I want. And then we started working on that. And a local barn builder in Ohio came down Here after we got the material cut and Helped us raise this timber framed bank barn for our home and our barn. Our home is in this 40-by-20 Bay of the bank barn and then the other two-thirds of the barn Is traditional. So you live here? We live here.
And we designed the barn to be heated With wood, so we have concrete radiant floors, On the upstairs level, as well as the base level, And that's...we have an outdoor wood furnace. It heats our water to heat our home and our domestic hot water. How do you pump the water. Is that electric, or is that... It is electric. We have just a little
Circulation pumps. We are solar powered Farm. We have 20 panels on the roof of the barn and two Lithium ion battery backup and we make more power than We use. You put it back to the grid then? We push it back to the grid. That's awesome. So some of the construction is hidden by this Tin. By the sheeting. It is. So we insulate
Between the floor joists and our living quarters. Sure. Okay. And so, we put up the Tin and the area where you don't see any Is our hay mow, where we store our hay and all the Things that a traditional hay loft would have. What kind of oak is this? White oak is the frame.
And we liked this barn so much we Decided to build another one, so we broke ground on Another 40-by-60 timber frame bank barn and we got The walls poured on Thursday last week and they pulled the forms Off on Friday and so we have Another classic bank Barn going up. So when you dug away to put the barn in, You are moving a lot of this stone. Yeah. It's pretty rocky ground here? This is. Yep. And we were able to use
The native stone and all the, you know, the Bank walls and those kinds of things. So it's two story. It is. Well, actually Its three because our master bedroom is in the loft above the second floor. Okay. But you put up small square bale hay?
Or...You know, we buy our hay. Because our farm is mostly forest. Okay, so you're buying Round bales? We're buying the big square Bales. Okay. Yeah this is Is this poplar here, then? Actually that's ash.
Is it, okay. Because we've had to start cutting our ash trees Due to the emerald ash borer infestation. And so what do you do With it? Right. Everything that you need done. We just Instead of poplar which is what we have mostly, we're Just substituting the ash wood.
So, we've moved our living quarters when we added A guest bedroom and bath and a dining room. Okay. Which is one of the reasons we're building Another barn because we keep encroaching on this barn space. Oh, it's lovely.
Oh, it's gorgeous. Yeah. And it's Well, we just Keep expanding Out on the deck. Wow. You don't need to have any artwork. You've got views. My goodness. But, so this deck was built out of locust Since we wanted it to last a long time and be Exposed so it is very rot resistant. Very. So this one was concrete block That's poured concrete. Yeah. We decided to
Try something different. The cost difference between The block and the poured concrete wasn't significant. And We keep laying hens. You know, Year round all the time, and we have the classic You know, amish made aluminum portable Chicken pens. Couple of different sizes. We raise meat Birds in the summer and in addition to keeping Some laying hens year round. And this year We found a local farmer who brought his plucker And scalder up and did all 25 of them in a matter Of a couple hours. Isn't that nice? It's amazing. Yeah.
That makes raising meat birds possible. Right. You know, that you'd want to do it again. Right. It's efficient. It's outside, It's in the fresh air, but it's efficient. Very much so.
A beautiful mix. You know. And, so but Every structure on the farm is timber framed. Yeah. And this was our last big project which is a wood shed. Yeah. You know, for someone who eats with wood, we managed For a long time without a wood shed. That's a good example for people to see Who might not know what timber framing means exactly. That's right. So maybe you could point what are some of the features of
And I'm going to use the wrong words: the mortise and the peg. Yeah. The construction. And you know, Again, we're using ash lumber From the ash trees that were infected and would go to waste if Didn't cut them and mill them and, you know, In our buildings are more than just buildings, You know, the art of timber Framing is so beautiful and it lends itself to Post and beam which is easier to cut on the mill Very strong, structurally. And You know, it's also art in my opinion. Absolutely. And it is longlasting. It actually improves As it swells. It does.
And you know, this is just 6 by 6, 2 x 4s, and 3x8 rafters, And just you know it's very stout and It will outlast us for sure. We just harvested all of our hogs Last week. We raised five hogs. We cooked one for the forestry field day.
And we had the four Processed into pork chops and sausage and put it into our farm store. And...do you farrow to finish? We...Clifford, is The narrower, and you know, when he knows I need Pigs in the spring and he kind of plans accordingly. Okay. Yeah. He's been crossing
Berkshire and Tamsworth and Dorsets And he just keeps improving it, And they grow out Really well. Here's our Blueberry and raspberry patch that just blows our Minds with production every single year. Do you have deer? We have a lot of deer, white tailed deer? A lot of white tail deer but with seven livestock Guardian dogs we never see them. Inside the farm fence.
We have currently a small herd of Boer meat goats. We've processed, harvested Everything except for a couple of does and breeding buck. And they're grazing down in this patch off woods here. You've got multiple profit centers for Your livelihood. Yes we do. And it would take a while probably to list all of them, but it includes The farm, products from the farm, But you also do consulting work. I do. Yep. So, I am a forester. And I consult With energy companies electirc And gas and we assist them in managing their Trees along the rights of ways You know, for safety, reliability, access, And then in the forest floor, on the right of way, Managing that as an early successional Ecosystem with grasses and forbs and low growing shrubs for You know, it meets their objectives and it also provides A great forest edge for all kinds of insects And birds and wildlife. It's got to be pretty fulfilling work. It is
Very fulfilling. Yeah. It's, you know, there's millions and millions of acres of right of way That if managed, you can achieve great Pollinator habitat and all kinds of desirable outcomes including Recreation. Right. They got to do something with it. And they got the money, They do. So they can do what's right. And when you manage it And you're engaged in that, the cost of maintaining It goes down. Right. It's sustainable. It is. That's terrific. So, but...
So here Clifford' S mare Rosy and my gelding, Copper, Have been working together as a team for the first Time on Thursday, for the second time on Saturday, And they've done remarkably well. Clifford raised my Gelding Copper, I bought him from Clifford last year As a three year old gelding who was halter broke And everything I asked him to do he did willingly The first time. It is quite amazing. And so, yeah, and he's Growing out nicely. We put a stick on him last night
And he was 17hands. Nice. Which is a good size For pulling logs up the mountain. Right. The perception of people that Suffolk horses are Small is something that is sometimes Reinforced by what they see, but often not. No. Particularly when you, you know, his father is Ike Sovereign, you know, the same Say no more. And then when you start talking about Pulling power, just power close to the ground.
Just the work horse part of it, it's You know, night and day. Yep. So we going to harness up? Yeah. Let's do that/ Told my cousin, that's who I'm logging for right now, I told her If you'll keep the cattle out of here, you know I've got this set up really nice For good regeneration, you know, we've thinned out a lot of the beach, Beach is almost invasive in some places, so we got it thinned out, We got a log of nice specimens of white oak we left, And I said if you'll just keep the cows out. When cows Go into forest that's coming back, they'll chew Off the tops. Right, just like white-tailed deer and that Timber then comes up all forked. Well, if it even comes up.
I mean, sometimes it just looks like a Park where they come in and maintain...it's beautiful I mean as far as walking, it's easy to walk in, but there's nothing coming on. There's no young trees coming on so that forest is going To eventually be just nonexistent, you know. And of course, the trees that are there, they're compacting the roots and they're killing them slowly. So, it's a...it's
A bad thing that they do but you can't hardly convince farmers Not to do it. It's shade for their animals. You know, usually there's water Nearby. I understand it from their perspective. But It's not good for the forest at all. Right. I sold my old team of geldings to Acadia National Park in Maine.
Have you ever been there. Yeah. I haven't but I know it. So I...the guy he was smart and he made the deal with me that I'd deliver the horses. In January I thought well that will be a nice Trip but when it came time to deliver, it was like, I really don't have time to do this. But, so any way, I did but we had a blow out north Of Columbus, Ohio, on a six lane interstate, and I didn't have a spare.
There we were on the side of the road. On the horse trailer was the blow out, And it was almost closing time for the day and we just caught the guy Before he went home. And he said if you promise me you'll be here I'll wait for you. But if you're not coming, I'm closing the doors and going home. I said buddy,
As soon as I can get this truck off the trailer I'll be at your door. To order you copy please call 319-362-3027. Or visit www.ruralheritage.com. Rural Heritage is a bimonthly Magazine dedicated to draft animal farming and logging As well as other aspects of our rich rural heritage. It is published By Mischka Press which also offers a complete line of back to the land Books, DVDs and calendars. Call or write for a catalog Or subscription information. Or visit our website at