WitnessTree Land & Livestock Farm
Our focus is on preserving the Old Ways of living on, and with, the Land and the other creatures that inhabit it.
Comprising about 387 acres in central Missouri, WitnessTree is strategically located between the state capital of Jefferson City and metropolitan St. Louis. The Missouri river lies just north, and Lake of the Ozarks is only 1 1/2 hours to the southwest. This is also the heart of Missouri wine country, with over a dozen wineries less than a 30-minute drive from the farm. Having close to 200 acres in woods, 30 acres in crop bottomland, and the balance in pasture and hayfields, the goal of WitnessTree is self-sufficiency using heritage breeds and old-style farming and homesteading skills, with the future addition of alternative energy sources such as windpower and solar.
No hybrid or genetically-altered anything is used here, so the garden and crops are grown, without pesticides, from open-pollinated and heirloom seeds. We are also fortunate to have a prairie meadow that has never seen the plow. It has, at last count, over 350 species of native wildflowers and plants, and is listed as a prairie remnant site with the Shaw Nature Reserve, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden.
When we acquired the farm in 2001, it had been idle and untouched for 30 years. In fact, there were still hats and jackets hanging on the sunporch and dishes setting on the table, as if someone had just stepped out. The original structure is a 2-story log cabin, circa mid-1800's, and the rest of the house was built around it sometime in the 1900's. We are now working to restore the house, having spent most of the first 4 years cleaning out and repairing the barns & outbuildings, brushhogging the
overgrown fields, putting up new fencing & shelters, and making numerous other improvements to the outside. All the while we have been adding to our heritage breeds, which began back in 1995 with poultry (Dark Cornish chickens, Blue Slate turkeys, and Black Cayuga ducks), and now also includes Pilgrim geese, Toulouse geese, Arapawa Island goats, Brabant Belgian draft horses, and Randall cattle. Read more about: Arapawa Island goats here; Randall Cattle here; Brabant Belgians here; Blue Slate turkeys here; Black Cayuga ducks here; Dark Cornish chickens here; Pilgrim geese here.
Every year on the first weekend in October, we host the "Mid-Missouri Horse, Mule, & Ox Farming and Historical Crafts Days" on our farm. Although cancelled this year (2020), 2021 will be the 24th anniversary for the event, and the 20th year held here at WitnessTree. It is a showcase for the demonstration of heritage crafts and animal-powered farming skills. We have had as many as 20-plus draft teams working in the field at once, and have some of our rare livestock on display then as well. Our crafters demonstrate several of the skills that made up daily life a century ago, and are still a part of daily life for many of us who prefer to stay connected with the land. You can find additional information about this event on our "Keeping It Simple" page.