Rainbow Farm is located in Sandstone, WV and was established again in March 2009. We started with a small market garden and a laying flock; we have quickly grown from there. We are very diversified (though not large) and continue to grow as our interests and knowledge expands. Here are some of our agricultural pursuits:
Organic Market Gardens (concentrating on greens)
Eggs (from free roaming hens)
Goats (for breeding stock, 4H, and meat)
Fruit (orchard and blueberries)
Our primary means of marketing has been the Lewisburg Farmers Market, which is fantastic and very supportive. In addition to this market, we hope to expand into Hinton and Beckley, as well as potentially some on farm sales.
We are actively involved with WVU Extension and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Southern Conservation District (SCD) in our area. This relationship is mutually beneficial. No, we are not USDA Organic (yet). In many ways our practices are better than the standards set forth in the USDA Organic program, but at this time we are not pursuing certification due to cost. However, the natural way we run our farm means that we consistently produce higher quality produce, meat, and eggs than any grocer could market.
Our beliefs are that agriculture and land stewardship can and should go hand in hand. It doesn't make sense for us to use and abuse the resources available to us, because what is left for us then? All of our produce is naturally grown. We do not use pesticides, herbicides, or commercial fertilizers on our food. We also sell our produce as locally as possible, generally within 40 miles of the farm. The more we spend locally, the more money that funnels back down to our community. Plus, why ship veggies picked at the peak of ripeness?
The goats receive minimal preventative vaccinations, and are wormed and medicated on an as needed basis ONLY. Because we do not practice confinement housing and we have several paddocks to rotate them through, these goats rarely get ill. We do feed grain during pregnancy and nursing, but otherwise they are on pasture and hay. Through selective breeding we are working to reduce the grain in the diet while still seeing healthy weight gain.
Our chickens, both layers and broilers, receive free choice grain. However, more often than not these birds are foraging freely in the yard (layers) or in their pen (broilers); a substantial amount of their feed fairs from their own scrounging. This really does make a difference in the final product - try our chicken meat or eggs and we know you'll agree.
After spending the early childhood years in Texas, Paul spent most of his formative years in New Jersey. Athletics were a big part of his life, and included baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. However, it wasn't until high school that he really found his stride (so to speak) with running; cross country and track and field fit the bill.
Academically Paul floundered, always achieving good marks but never being drawn to any particular pursuit. It wasn't until senior year of high school that he found a love for physics. When applying for college, engineering was the natural choice.
College was a whirl wind of studying and socializing, and in four years Paul emerged with a degree in Civil Engineering. However, that wasn't the only thing he came away with during that time - years of boxing skills, an obsession with rock climbing, many friends, a job with Sikorsky Aircraft, and his wife to be all came with it! He would later say that college was, "a pretty good package deal."
Armed with the skills to pay the bills, Paul went to work at Sikorsky Aircraft in Connecticut as a helicopter design engineer with rotors, which is actually more exciting than it sounds. Over the course of two and a half years he learned a lot, but the most important lesson was that a day job in cubical life was not acceptable. Not only was the idle feeling painful, but after years of education about some of the larger issues facing this world, playing it safe from the sideline (ie. the rat race) was just too easy. The highlight during this time was getting married to Lauren at what would become the revived Rainbow Farm.
The idea and opportunity to revive Rainbow Farm, a dormant property for almost 30 years, came about some time before March 2009, but the real work started in earnest then. Since that time Rainbow Farm has been Paul's full time, not so well paying but absolutely loving it, job. Its not so much like a job, but a lifestyle. That is because there isn't an end to the work day where you can walk away and forget about it until tomorrow or Monday. It is the real deal and he couldn't ask for anything more.
Born and partially raised in the Wild and Wonderful state of West Virginia, it's no surprise that Lauren could again call Rainbow Farm home 22 years later. Lauren was born in Beckley, West Virginia and spent the first two years of her life on Rainbow Farm, in Sandstone, before her parents moved the family to New London, Pennsylvania. The Webber's motivation for the move was multifaceted, but centered around finding reliable work closer to home, moving closer to family, and having the opportunity for their children to receive a good education. Her parents kept the property when they moved to Pennsylvania in the mid 80s and made it their lifelong goal to be able to retire on "The Farm"; they are currently pursing their goal and loving life in West Virginia, with Lauren and Paul farming just "down the hill".
Academics were at the center of Lauren's life for about 17 straight years. She excelled in most subjects, but found a strong interest in mathematics and science. Along with academics, she had a strong love for the outdoors. Summer vacations were spent on "The Farm", playing in the woods, building forts, gardening with mom, traveling to the Outer Banks, camping, etc. Lauren went on to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering at Penn State, where she graduated at the top of her class with Paul, her soon to be husband at her side. Although it may seem that most of those years were spent with her nose buried in a book (they mostly were), she was also an active and involved citizen. She was involved in many actives including Girl Scouts, Yearbook, Band Front, Venture Crew, teaching internships, tutoring, Habitat for Humanity, Penn State's Center for Sustainability, and Engineers for a Sustainable World.
The next stop on her trip through life with Paul was New Haven, Connecticut for a job with Langan Engineering & Environmental Services as a Site Civil Engineer. The next three years of her life would be filled with lots good memories and some changes. Shortly after moving to Connecticut (about 1 week) Paul proposed to Lauren, a year later they got married, and two years after that they decided to make a major lifestyle adjustment by moving to West Virginia. Although Lauren loved her job and enjoyed living in Connecticut, both she and Paul knew that Connecticut was not a place they could call home. In 2009 they started their migration south, Paul in March and Lauren following closely in his footsteps come June. Lauren quickly fell in love with life on the farm in West Virginia, but felt a small void in job she left behind. Fortunately she was able to fill that void by reconnecting with Langan as a contract employee that September.
As time ticks on the demands of Rainbow Farm grow and grow, but the benefits of the farm lifestyle far outweigh all the challenges that come with. Lauren looks forward evolving as the farm grows from dormant earth to thriving land.
Samson is an unregistered 100% Great Pyrenees. He conforms to the Great Pyrenees registrable standards. He came to us from a family that he outgrew in the far south of West Virginia. We brought him to the farm as a bit of gamble; he was six months of age and we didn't know how he would take to our goats after being socialized for so long. However, it only took a day of acclimation for him to take to the goats, and he has been on the watch ever since.
Like any good dog he loves a good scratch and even a wrestle from time to time. He is big - over 110 lbs and counting. Samson isn't afraid to push his weight around, and from time to time he needs to be reminded that he is second in command to us. We like him this way - he's an independent leader that still likes some loving and isn't afraid to work. Sam will be 2 years old in June 2011.
These dogs LIVE with our goats, and their purpose in life is to protect our livestock. While they love a bit of human company, they really feel at home running the fence lines looking for anything out of the norm. These dogs have never been inside, don't have dog houses, and are real working animals. They are perfectly content doing a nights work, then bedding down in several feet of snow for a rest.
You can be sure that they will sound the alarm (bark) when they detect something unusual, though they do their best work when the sun goes down. We have never lost a goat to predation, and that is with a steady supply of coyotes and wild dogs around the area.
Yeti is an unregistered 88% Great Pyrenees, with the other 12% being Anatolian Shepard. She conforms to the Great Pyrenees registrable standards. We got Yeti when she was 10 weeks old from a farm an hour north of where we live. She came from working blood there, and she continues that on our farm. We brought her home in January 2010 and immediately put her out with Samson on pasture (which was covered in 2 feet of snow).
Yeti is much more shy than Samson. More likely than not she will stay an arms length away from anyone she doesn't know. Rest assured though, once she gets to know you she'll want to be your best friend. This doesn't keep her from being an excellent guard animal. She is quicker than Samson in noticing anything abnormal, and will stay out barking and circling longer than him as well. What she lacks in size, she makes up in bark.
At 75 lbs, she is smaller than your average Great Pyrenees at this time. However, she is only just over a year old, and we expect that she'll put on a bit more weight before her growing is done. She'll be 2 years old in November 2011.