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All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 4.5
Persons: 2
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 46567
Region: Mountain

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Last Updated: March 17, 2016

This farm was purchased from Marie Connor in 1988 by Erv Crowther and Bridget Mahoney. It is a ten acre parcel of river bed land that runs along the Salmon River. Erv is an Idaho native and had dreamed of living in the Lemhi valley where he often backpacked and fished as a young man. A neighbor of Erv’s once asked him if he was planning to farm the ground; Erv’s reply was an emphatic, Hell no!
Erv by then had begun to realize his dream of spending his time in the mountains packing with his Pack Goats, as well had begun a business making hunting packs using wool fabric and goat pack equipment. During those years there was always a nice garden but the place was not being farmed.
Teri Crowther came here to pack Idaho in 2001 and as life transformed so has Pack Idaho which now has the word Farm following the name. It began with a cow actually and the lesson learned is “It is never as simple as buying a cow”, it isn’t!
Our transformation began in a time when cultural doors opened and focus shifted to self-sufficiency. The over powering surge of big business and their struggle for control opened those doors. Pesticides, GMO everything has created motivation in society to take back the liberty and freedom to feed ourselves in a manner we deem healthy. Big business has also isolated communities, especially rural. These open doors extend to Community, where healthy choices are grown, produced and sold in local markets. Our goal is to keep it small, yet sustain itself. Over the years of Pack Idaho’s transformation a wealth of knowledge has been developed and many of these skills need to be shared and passed along. The pace is easy going and this is a way of life few are blessed with.
Anyone who knows Teri and Erv will tell you she is the brains of the outfit and has actually been dubbed the “director”. Up to present time Teri and Erv have been able to keep up with the farm demands along with the assistance of Zach Mitchell, who has become a member of our Pack Idaho family. As the farm grows and progresses, Zach will be the guy to see to the daily goings on. At the end of the 2015 season, we find ourselves at a crossroad to either grow the farm or simple it down. As we began to take a serious look at downsizing, we found ourselves feeling sad at the prospect, yet excited at the idea balancing between farm life and recreational life. We love this farm as if it a calling of sorts and our desire and choice are to grow the farm. Running any farm is no small task and we are spread too thin to pursue our possibilities at the same time.
Erv has grown tobacco here on the farm for several years. He cures and rolls cigars and has an Idaho state License to sell cigars. Erv is by no means a tobacco expert, yet his years of growing and interest in curing in the dry Idaho climate have taught him well.
We use strictly heirloom seed and organic practice and for 2016 the plan is to create an heirloom seed garden as well as herbs for tinctures. We also expect to begin possibly three bee colonies and expand our asparagus garden. We will be adding one milk cow and now have one milking and a calf that is not quite a year. We expect to plant several more fruit trees and hope to get some berry patches going. Also part of the 2016 plan is to become organic certified as well as have a USDA certified kitchen so we are able to produce and market our products. We hope to add USDA mobile cold storage for butchering with the possibility of producing and marketing meat products.
We are also working at training and packing with goats. It is our hope to direct more focus to mountain packing endeavors and goats are just sweet animals. We have four to pack currently and hope to add four more next spring. Learning to pack with goats in the mountains of Idaho is part of the job depending on how time is structured.
We have a small shop complete with most wood working tools and our chosen way of life demands we learn skills we never knew we had. Maintenance and repair on the “homestead” has forced us to go beyond our self-imposed limitations and see possibilities rather than barriers.
We brew beer in the winter and early spring. We start seedlings and plants in March and April for the gardens and our small nursery. We turn on the incubator and fire up the hatchery on May first, offering Heritage Turkeys, Chickens and guinea fowl. For the 2016 season our intent is to expand into Pheasants. In spring we typically expect one calf. Our cows are Jersey crossed with Our Dexter Bull, “Atlas” known as the largest Teddy Bull anywhere. From there it is direct sowing seed, tending strawberry patches, trimming trees, building gardens by adding new compost and wood chips. We are always in the process of cleaning cow, bull and goat pens, as well as bird coops. We build our own compost which is also always ongoing. Summer is filled with keeping up with gardens, irrigating pastures and hay, which occurs usually three times each season. Building projects are mapped out and tackled. Most of the fencing has been updated, so hopefully very little fence work will occur. By fall harvest is on, another calf expected, canning and processing are occurring. Late September is a time when we do maintenance and winterize equipment, as well as put the farm to bed. Milking, yogurt, butter, cheese and milk related products are among the daily tasks year around.
Our way of life is about Joy, creativity, learning, sharing and growing. Joy is a choice always there, excited to be recognized and acted upon. For us, Joy comes through learning new things, sharing with our Pack Idaho Farm community and seeing our dreams for the future materialize.
It is not all work here, we enjoy recreation and live in one of the best places on the planet for outdoor activities. We have several kayaks and are located right next to the Salmon River. There are hot springs about an hour hike from the farm. There is hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, panning for gold and making music. We play guitars and congas and do love sitting together creating tunes and some of that toe tapping action. We are laid back and easy going, yet appreciate looking over the place at the end of the day to see the farm well cared for and the day’s work plan complete.
Our philosophies and ideals are what drive us to move forward developing Pack Idaho Farm. Erv came from a time when families and communities gathered and worked together. Farmers in the community co-op’ed their crops, processed them in a local produce plant, then marketed them. Each received their share; in that, the community survived, families were fed and each generation had their stake in the farm and community.

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