2011 Florida Innovative Farmers of the Year
Caney Branch Farm is your source for naturally grown, hormone- and antibiotic-free grass-fed meat, eggs, and fiber.
We raise heritage breeds of Belted Galloway cattle, Icelandic sheep, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese. We offer farm fresh eggs from our free-range chickens and wildflower honey from our chemical-free bee hives.
Belted Galloway Beef
The Belted Galloway cattle (belties) are black on both ends with a white belt around their midsections and are also known as the Oreo cow. The breed is known best for its double hair coat, which results in a beef that is leaner and lower in cholesterol - characteristics that have been documented in several university research studies. Carcass comparisons made in 1994 between purebred Belties and commercial cattle placed Belted Galloway beef low in saturated fat content as well as total fat average and indicated high ratios of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids - the beneficial lineolic and lenolenic acids. The Belted Galloway beef also tested lower in cholesterol than its commercial cattle counterparts. The USDA Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) at Clay Center, Nebraska conducted extensive testing of multiple beef animal traits during the period of 1986 to 1990. The Galloway excelled in the beef quality trait areas of Flavor and Juiciness ... meaning that Galloway beef ranked first in taste.
The Icelandic sheep is one of the world's oldest and purest breeds of sheep, treasured for its meat, fiber, and milk. The fleece is dual-coated and comes in white as well as a range of browns, grays and blacks. There are both horned and polled strains. The meat is indeed very tender with a mild flavor, and is generally described as gourmet meat. With the leaner, European style carcass, and the mild flavor, Icelandic lamb can appeal to the palate of even those consumers who avow they just don't like lamb. Recently, The Whole Foods Market grocery chain labeled Icelandic lamb a truly artisanal product and offers the meat as an exclusive product of its stores. The Icelandic sheep produces a premium fleece. The fleece is dual coated, with a fine, soft undercoat called thel and a longer, coarser outer coat called tog. Icelandic fleeces are open and low in lanolin. The weight loss when washed is significantly less than many other breeds. The two coats can be separated by hand for special projects, or they may be processed together. The traditional lopi is a lightly spun blend of tog and thel. Thel is very soft and downy, with an irregular crimp and can be used for baby garments, and for the fine shawls in the style of the Wedding Shawl. The tog is similar to mohair; wavy or corkscrewed rather than crimped and is wonderful in worsted spinning. The versatility of the wool, the ease of spinning and the wide variation of tones and colors are a true delight to handspinners, and put Icelandic wool into the exotic or premium category. It is also known as one of the best fleeces for felting, which is fast gaining popularity in the craft community. In North America, the Icelandic sheep are used for personal milk production by many shepherds for yogurt and soap. Some farms are making gourmet artisan cheeses. In addition, the pelt of the Icelandic sheep is beautiful, lustrous, soft and luxurious, in a delightful range of colors and patterns. The horns of the sheep can be crafted into a variety of products, such as buttons, or can be used by re-enactors to hold powder or beverages.
Beekeeping and Beeswax
At Caney Branch Farm, we practice chemical-free beekeeping and have an apiary of approximately 20 bee hives. Our bees forage a variety of wildflowers and trees to create a mild pleasant-tasting honey. As Master Beekeepers, we have fostered simple management practices that have allowed us to maintain extremely healthy and robust colonies despite the recent pressures from the Varroa mite, hive beetle, and colony collapse disorder (CCD). The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University recently began to study the effects of the uses of chemicals in bee colonies. According to the researchers, our bees quickly became the gold standard against which other bee colonies were measured. The researchers were astounded by the health of our bees. We create a variety of beeswax products upon request, including rolled beeswax candles, beeswax tapers, and ornamental beeswax candles. Occasionally, we offer bulk beeswax for sale to crafters.
Our most recent additions are feeder pigs that are a cross between the Spanish hogs introduced by the Spanish explorers in the late 1500s and the Tamworth, a rugged, thrifty breed of swine favored as a lean-type hog. Their red coloring prevents them from becoming sunburned in the hot Florida sun. The pigs are fed our own special blend of grains that are hormone and antibiotic free. A limited number of hogs will be raised over the winter with pork available in March each year.
Naturally grown grass fed pastured, hormone free, antibiotic free beef and lamb. Free-range chickens and eggs. Chemical-free bees, honey, and beeswax. Hormone and anitbiotic free pork. Wool and fiber for knitting, felting, and handspinning. Free range turkeys, ducks, and geese as well as duck eggs.
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