The Simple Life
By Gary VanDeWalker
Kid Creek Pastures in Mount Shasta
As young Jacob Barr gazed through the trees in the backwoods of Idaho, he didn’t know that miles away his future spouse, Shawna, was looking over the fields of Grenada, Calif., with the same thought. Neither wanted to be farmers. Life has a way of turning inside out. Today, the couple and their children have found their idyllic life on their Mount Shasta farm, Kid Creek Pastures.
Around 2006, the Barr family began to go through a renaissance. “We wanted to know where our food came from,” Shawna says. “We wanted to support local businesses.” Finding locally grown food was a challenge. At the same time a piece of property became available, part of the same land which once provided Mount Shasta with its food. With the purchase of the grassland and the acquisition of Hattie the cow, Kid Creek Pastures was born.
Soon the Barrs were producing milk, eggs, and seasonal fruits and vegetables for their family. “The first five years came with a steep learning curve,” Jacob says. “We did some research and adopted a grass-based philosophy, with a set of core values.” The family decided to respect and honor the design of their animals, allowing chickens to roam and scratch outdoors. Pigs grazed and wallowed, building nests in the woods. The cows would eat grass. They would avoid trans-genic products. The farm would respect neighbors in its practices, while leaving the land healthier as they worked it, using transparent farming techniques. The Barrs wanted their farm to be a humble endeavor, where they could learn while loving God and their neighbors.
Soon the farm expanded into a member-based community, not open to the public, but to those investing in the farm. Members began to help with the birthing of calves, hatching of chicks, and participating in workdays and a sense of community formed. Members met together at events like a campfire at the full moon, with chili and hot chocolate. The eclectic community now included people of all political persuasions, ages, and religions, all brought together by their love of local farming.
Today, share members receive their milk in an unprocessed form, going from udder to jar in less than 10 minutes. Eggs from grass-fed chickens are gathered. Heritage pigs, animals not selected for factory farming, roam the fields, while Dexter beef cows graze in adjacent land. The Irish Dexters are a miniature beef breed, which the Barrs refer to as “hobbit” or “halfling cows.” At the Farm Stand, the seasons bring raspberries and strawberries, with all the fruits and vegetables being grown without synthetic chemicals. “Here we just use old-fashioned manure and elbow grease,” Jacob says.
As older members of the farm community walk its fields, some shed tears. “There is something lovely and endearing about the farm. A century ago, this agrarian lifestyle was the norm. But now it’s forgotten,” Shawna says. “But it’s risen to life here.” The farm sets its sights on an area 10 miles around as its sphere of influence. Here it can maintain its community.
Kid Creek Pasture is not open to the public. Its members are committed to one another in both needs and values. The milk is only for the use of the owners of the farm in keeping with the State of California's requirement that private individuals may produce milk for their own use but not sell it.
Jacob and Shawna now look over their farm together, looking through their own eyes with a different view of farming. With their five children gathered around them, Shawna says, “Our family is together all the time now. We’ve discovered what we've really wanted.”