Category Archives: VVR

BARN of this Land

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This BARN. Every time I scoop feed, take refuge from rain or wind, store farm tools, or smell sweet local straw on my guardian dogs’ fur, it is tinted with gratitude for this barn. 
Even though I definitely hammered a few nails to help build this beauty, I see it as a gift from my brother @owenmcmichael —he coordinated the job and stuck with it until it was solid and dry enough to serve my needs. Along with my father (and some good help from @jelmcm and WWOOFer Lucas), Owen felled the trees, supervised and supported the sawyer, augered the post holes, stripped and set the posts, and built both floors with precision.

One of these days (after my wrists heal, for sure), I will follow through with my end of the deal by finishing the batten and sliding barn doors. My barn is both beautiful and functional as it is, and I know it will continue to learn—á la #stewartbrand —as the years pass.


The Way To Be GMO-free

Just as we (humans) are what we eat, so are the animals that we raise here on Vernal Vibe Rise. As a result, we believe that it is truly worthwhile to go to great lengths to make sure that our animals have access to the cleanest, most nutrient-rich foods available to us.

GMO-free feed in truckEvery few weeks, we make the trip to neighboring Virginia to purchase GMO-free feed for our animals. It involves an entire day, significant expense, and intense physical effort, but what is farming if not comprised of those things already?

GMO-free feed on truck

Much of the GMO-free swine feed is contained in this one-ton tote, which needs to be secured carefully before the two-hour drive on the highway back to VVR.

GMO-free feed in/on truck

Here is the (rented) truck of the week, all loaded up for the drive back to Renick. My dear truck, the Dumpin’ Doggie, is a 1969 F100 and isn’t well-suited for this type of trip, so she stays at the farm during feed runs.

GMO-free corn

The GMO-free whole corn, which serves as a supplemental feed for VVR poultry, and as a snack for swine and sheep. The clean feed that we offer the animals here on VVR makes them healthier, which in turn ensures that their meat and eggs are tastier and safer to eat. We thank all of our customers for caring enough about the health of our environment to make the choice to purchase VVR’s GMO-free products.


A Millennial’s Perspective of Farming and the Future of America’s Food

During our 3-week stay at Vernal Vibe Rise, I witnessed one of the most admirable and humbling displays of diligence and dedication I have ever seen. We all have people in our lives whom we look up to for all sorts of inspiration (mentors or role models if you will), and Quincy is one of those few humans who will continue to inspire many people. When I was a kid, my mom would often tell me that anyone who works hard at anything will eventually reap the fruits of that labor. Sooner or later, it happens, and being at VVR was a much needed reminder of this lesson.


I hope I don’t get too preachy, but please entertain my thoughts for a moment. I belong to a generation that has had to struggle with the consequences of the near-sighted decisions and assumptions that our predecessors made about our natural and human-crafted resources. While my generation has more gadgets and better access to information than ever before, we carry a large burden that no other generation has faced. We are having to deal with the consequences of carelessly mining natural resources, and we are realizing that mass-production coupled with an irresponsible “free market” is perhaps the most pernicious combination of social constructs that humans have ever created. Thankfully, the Internet has helped us see that there are smarter ways of powering our homes, fueling our vehicles, planning our cities, and growing our food. On the Internet, you will find that many hard-working people are helping to spread the word about the vast world of wiser alternatives to the way in which we grow our food and raise our livestock. Suddenly, urban farms are sprawling all across the country. Suddenly, farmers markets are sprawling in abandoned lots in various cities. But what I found most encouraging about my stay at VVR is that many of us are talking about these hard truths and quickly seeing that all the information and technology we need to make our world a more responsible one is already in our hands.

If we look back in time, especially to the humble, rebellious beginnings of this country, we can easily appreciate that social revolutions are slow to occur. But if there is one quality that characterizes this country over the centuries, it has got to be its undeniable ability to foster some amazing social revolutions. And it is pioneers like Quincy who take matters into their own hands and lead the rest of us into a transitional period.  I am grateful that people, such as Quincy, have fearlessly challenged the status quo by acknowledging that something isn’t right about the way we’re mass-producing livestock. It is inspiring to see that people are empowering themselves to do things differently.


Meeting Quincy and her loving, collaborative community was an honor. Indeed, a reminder that anything is possible as long as you work hard and support your local community (be it by purchasing food from local farmers or, in Quincy’s case, by selling your product to local, small businesses). Quincy, I wish you nothing but the best–you’ve definitely earned it 😀


With much love and appreciation,

Piggy Love

An amazing part of the Vernal Vibe Rise is that it empowers the heritage breeds that are critically endangered by offering them a sustainable home where they can live happily and reproduce in peace. There is an incredible variety of livestock as you walk across the fields, from sheep to rabbits to baby piglets: every one of them with a fantastic personality. Some of them get along better than others, but all of them coexist, living their lives happily the way they so desire.

But the pigs though.
These pigs are something else.

A shoutout must be given to the momma pigs. These powerful ladies were born to do what they love and love what they do with the most inspiring positive intention. An honory mention to our wise giant, the fabulously voluptuous Marfrance. Glamourously grazing with a cooperative smile, this Gloucestershire Old Spot momma packs a lot of love.


Estelle the Berkshire is always clowning around with her tongue out. She’s always ready to greet you and talk about her day any time you pass by her.


Then there is the fabulous tamworth Tamara, who is surely about to pop a new litter soon. You might recognize this lovely face by her stage name, Sherry Boom (Boom) or as she calls herself sometimes “Sheritta”. She’s recently decided to abandon her singing career as a pop sensation in order to take some time to nest up a family.


But really, it’s all about Rosa. Fully aware of her stunning good looks with the whole pig neighborhood drooling over her, she prances along indifferently and always gets what she wants in life. As the true Ossabaw she is, she is quite feral by nature. She makes sure to take any opportunity to prove that she’ll outsmart anyone around her.

Those who fall under her spell end up with a serious heartbreak, and she’s already got a lot going on her playing field. She seems to have a pretty serious relationship with Ossabaw Jack although recently crossed paths with the infamous (Doctor) Xavier, who fell hopelessly and foolishly in love with her. It is no secret the the enchanting Xavier has been secretly attempting to take over the farm all these years, and Rosa seems to be in cahoots with him on this idea.

This secret love affair has caused Xavier a beautiful friendship with his apprentice, Joey, the teenage hearthrob, who was making some moves on Miss Rosa on the side. Who knows what kind of troubles this dynamic duo might be plotting. The head of the farm, Quincy Gray, responds cooly knowing that she’s got everything under control.


Rosa replied all interviews with “no comment,” and did not let us photograph her for this report. However, we have pictures of some of the Ossabaw piglets that resemble her dashing looks.


These mommas continue to bless the VVR with the of the most energetic and adorable piglets, who seem to be genetically bred into not just being adorable and awesome, but most of all: absolutely delicious.



Factory Farms: Poisoning Food

The infographic below, recently published by Health Science Degree Guide (, clearly details the radical and disgusting changes that our national food system has undergone within the past century. We challenge you to please view it, share it, and see how it changes your eating habits!


Halvah: First Fall 2013 Farrow

Halvah grazing

Above is Halvah, our sole Tamworth sow, grazing in the back pasture earlier this summer.Halvah and Tam piglets
Here, Halvah keeps a watchful eye on her litter even while she is eating. Halvah came to Vernal Vibe Rise from Floyd, Virginia. We knew she was ‘the one’ because she was without a nose ring, unlike all of her sisters. We named her Halvah because of her lovely Tamworth coloring, which all of her piglets share.
Halvah eating
Halvah enjoys a hefty post-delivery treat; we always offer sows an all-you-can-eat feed after they farrow in addition to the placenta, which provides essential nutrition for the sow and, in turn, her piglets. Halvah's Tam litter1
Seven healthy pure Tamworth piglets, four gilts and three boars–a solid number for a first farrow. Halvah's Tam litter2
We will have a few of these piglets for sale, either as unregistered pure Tamworth breeding stock or feeders. They will be ready to go by early October 2013, so please let us know ASAP if you are interested.

Congratulations, Halvah!

Field Trip: Honeybee Inspection at Dilly Dally Farm

This Monday morning, with current uncharacteristic sunshine, offered the perfect weather for a field trip to Dilly Dally Farm in Crawley, West Virginia. My mother, Sarah Voorhees, requested an extra set of eyes during this week’s Hive Inspection, and I was glad to volunteer. The inaugural VVR Top Bar Hive has yet to be installed, and our resident bees still live–very comfortably–in a tree near our driveway.IMG_0911

As a result, I am living my Top Bar experience vicariously through my mother, until ours is up-and-buzzing next spring. After the mandatory donning of the full garb, we began to open up the hive.

DDF Top Bar Removal

The newest section of comb has a great number of bees hanging from it–and one another–in their usual string of activity.
DDF Bee Chain on Top Bar

Another bar, with completed comb, includes brood–and bees–but no honey yet.DDF Brood on Top Bar

The result of the inspection is that the bees are healthy, happy, and right on target (75 days) with the worker, drone brood, larvae, and newborn bees we witnessed. The hope is that the next inspection will yield yet more reproductive activity AND some honey stores for the coming cold season.

DDF SMV Inspecting Top Bar