A picturesque drive along a winding mountain road on a cool spring evening led me to Beth Tysdal of Cable Creek Farm. Springtime at Cable Creek displays the farm in lush hues of deep green, and the landscape is breathtakingly beautiful. Spring runoff fills the stream that runs through the property. Beth and I carefully crossed the stream in several places as we made our way through the pastures where the animals graze. We visited with her dairy cows and stopped along the way to see the hogs. Multiple litters of piglets playfully scampered throughout the enclosure. It is abundantly clear that the animals at Cable Creek Farm are healthy and well cared for. Beth explained how it all began:
Tell me about yourself and your farm: I started the farm with my husband Dave in 2011. We began as a vegetable CSA and did that for two years, but I realized during that time that I enjoyed working with animals more than raising vegetables. So one day I brought home a cow, and soon after we purchased some pigs. We also have chickens and a few guinea hens.
Do you and your husband work the farm together? My husband has a full time job off of the farm, so I run the farm but he does all the mechanical work and fence building. He has also begun to raise Christmas trees, and they should be ready to harvest within a few years.
Tell me more about your pigs; what breed do you raise? We mostly have Idaho Pasture Pigs. We prefer this breed because they have short, upturned snouts which means they do less rooting, compared to other breeds of pigs that use their long snouts to root and rip up pastureland. Idaho Pasture Pigs take about 10-12 months to become fully grown. We keep our breeding sows about 5-6 years, and they have two litters per year, with an average litter size of about seven piglets.
What type of food to you feed the pigs? We grind our own non GMO area feed. They also get whey and leftover milk if we have it.
What breed of cows do you raise? We have a small herd of heritage Dutch Belted cows that spend most of their time grazing in our pastures. We supplement their diet with non-gmo alfalfa and locally grown non-gmo grains.
What products do you sell and where do you sell them? Primarily I sell raw milk and a soft cheese called Fromage Blanc. I sell my cheese at the Coeur d’Alene Farmer’s Market. This year I will be at the market every Wednesday. Having a stand at the Farmer’s Market each week is a commitment and it can be rather unpredictable depending on the weather, but I love doing the markets. There is a culture to it; I love the people who go there. I feel as if my customers have become my friends. I primarily sell my pork and beef products through our website: www.cablecreekfarm.com.
What is your favorite thing about farming? Why do you do it? The independence, primarily. I am fiercely independent, I like having creative control, flexibility and freedom. I like the challenge of it. I get bored really easily, but with farming I think it is impossible to get bored, because you can never be really excellent at everything and you are continuously learning. There are so many varied aspects to it in addition to working with the animals; mechanical applications, marketing, customer service. You really do everything, at least as a small farmer.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? We would like to have the opportunity to sell our products in Washington State so that we can have a stand at the Farmer’s Market in Liberty Lake in addition to the Coeur d’Alene Farmer’s Market. We plan to expand our pig operations and open up a butcher shop here on site so we can do our own processing. I have been trying to learn how to butcher. I enjoy being able to customize the meat orders to the specifications of the customers.
When you are not working on the farm, what do you like to do? I enjoy cooking and I blog for the Farmer’s Market website. I gather recipe from the produces and other local growers to feature what is in season. You can visit the website at: http://kootenaifarmersmarkets.org