Harmony Hills Farm
Contact: Alan and Lisa Harmon
Address: 11421 89th Road Live Oak, FL, 32060
Email Address: email@example.com
We are a small family farm in Live Oak, Florida. History and heritage are important to us. Lisa's family has been in Florida since the 1770s on her mother's side and the 1860s on her father's. Alan worked on his uncle's Sarasota-area farm during the summers. Our cattle and sheep are Florida Crackers, descendants of the livestock brought to the Americas by the Spanish explorers 500 years ago. There were no livestock fences in Florida until the last century, so they ran semi-wild and adapted to the hot, wet Florida climate. They were rounded up annually; 'hunted' is the term in Florida, because they hid in the brush, so Florida cowboys, America's first, were called 'cowhunters.' Florida Cracker livestock fed both sides of the Civil War, and the beef was one of the prizes over which both sides fought here. These animals have been allowed to remain 'unimproved,' that is, not bred to be huge, fast-growing, or anything else. They're just like they were 500 years ago, in the 1700s, and in the 1800s. Both Florida Cracker cattle and sheep are on The Livestock Conservancy's Conservation Priority List. As the Conservancy explains, "Rare farm animals represent an irreplaceable piece of earth’s biodiversity and offer incredible variety that may be needed for future farms - robust health, mothering instincts, foraging, and the ability to thrive in a changing climate. These farm animals are a vital part of ensuring food security for our planet – now and for the future." These breeds cannot survive if they are only kept as pets; they are too expensive to maintain on range. To survive, they must serve their original purpose, as food for our tables, so that breeders will invest in them and increase their flocks and herds. You can help.
Our cattle and sheep are allowed to free-range on pasture that is a combination of grass, oak creek-bottom/palmetto glade, and replanted longleaf pine habitat, the original habitat of Florida until logged out in the last century. Our animals co-exist with whitetail deer, turkey, the endangered gopher tortoise, and many other native animal and plant/tree species in their pasture. They form a natural herd and flock, breed when Nature tells them to, calve and lamb unassisted, wean naturally, and live as natural a life as we can give them. They are grass-fed and -finished, so the fatty acids are 'the good stuff,' not derived from corn or other grains. Because Florida Cracker livestock are so well-adapted to the Florida climate, we do not use pesticides or vaccines. We do not routinely use dewormers, and in fact have only had to deworm the sheep once and the cattle not at all. Antibiotics might be used if an animal has a treatable illness (animal welfare and prevention of suffering are important to us), but we have never had to treat any cattle and only one lamb. We use herbicide only on the fencelines; otherwise removal of toxic or invasive species is done by hand.