You may have heard of Tim and Liz Young before and their pastured livestock operation in Northeast Georgia called Nature’s Harmony Farm. No they aren’t the largest operation in the state, nor the oldest. In fact, they are probably the youngest and most diversified. With only 4 short years under their belts, they have received a considerable amount of media attention, have a popular weekly Podcast, and even have a new book out called “The Accidental Farmers”. What makes their story so powerful is that they started out as suburbanites who lived a life of convenience whereas now they are competent do-it-yourself homesteaders. When my family arrived, the Nature’s Harmony crew (Tim, Liz, and two interns) were tanning deer and rabbit hides to make leather, boiling down beef tallow to make soap, building rabbit hutches to raise meat rabbits, planting a huge garden, baling hay, making cheese, and raising nearly every domesticated animal under the sun. Not only are they producing most of their own food, but they also sell meat, cheese, and eggs to a monthly buying club around Atlanta and Athens, serving several hundred other families with those comestibles.
Neither Tim nor Liz grew up on a farm, but they developed a strong desire to live in the country and make due with less material wealth. Rather than passively watch their retirement investments grow funding distant corporations, they choose to move those investments into land with the dividends being soil health and nutrient-dense foods. They have developed fervent goals about sticking to natural animal raising, from breeding through death, not using any antibiotics or conventional medicines to prop up their animal’s health. They are working towards closed herds with nearly all their animals, breeding their own laying hens, heritage turkeys, and rare Murray Grey beef cattle while trying to get their other animal breeds used to self-foraging, good mothering, and other normal animal instincts that have nearly disappeared from many commercial breeds. Jersey cows, for example, are difficult to find that have been raised on 100% grassfed diets for many generations, thus their milk production suffers because the Young’s don’t give them grain. Hopefully in a few generations they will have calves that do better on full grassfed diets, but Tim & Liz understand that it will take patience and a long view to make that happen. You can’t undo 75 years of breeding for industrial production in one or two generations. Modern day turkey breeds can’t mate anymore, modern day sows don’t want to lie down and nurse their piglets anymore, modern day meat birds can’t stand on their own two feet past 4 weeks old- their breasts are just too large (sound like modern day humans yet?).
Thankfully, due to Tim’s computer prowess and their experience with their own Podcast show, I have a recorded interview of much higher quality than my previous ones. Listen on for our hour-long discussion about how they got started, initial financing and capitalization, farm infrastructure, marketing, and much more.
Photo above of the Nature's Harmony movable rabbit hutches set out in their "Rabbitat", a new area they planted with forage crops and fruit trees.