Bay Haven Farm is situated on nearly 40 acres at the base of the Blue
Ridge Mountains. It is a lovely location with mountain views in three
directions. The Blue Ridge does not only appear within a stones throw
to our very immediate west, but continues to stretch further in the
distance to the southwest as it borders the Shenandoah River. In spite
of civilization seemingly closing in quicker than we’d like, we find a
great amount of peace and solitude perched on our 40 acre high spot at
the base of the Blue Ridge.
The farm is currently home to
several Cleveland Bay Horses, several working livestock guard dogs, and a
small herd of cattle. This resident list would not be complete without
the large gaggle of Free Range Turkeys that are raised seasonally for
the Thanksgiving holiday.
We work the
farm and care for all the animals ourselves as a small human family of
four. We have arranged our farm so that our animals can all live out
naturally on pasture with access to plenty of forage and field shelter.
The barn is usually only occupied during cold weather foaling or on the
rare occasion of injury.
The theme of the homestead is unmistakeable
with it’s modest reproduction farmhouse in dark gray with white trim
and it’s out-buildings all with bright red paint and white trim. Our
home is a small New England style historic reproduction salt box
noticeably smaller than the barn that sits less than 100 yards away.
The property has been a work in progress since we purchased it as raw
land in April of 2004.
Early in 2003 we began our
Cleveland Bay breeding program. We searched long and hard to find just
the right breed. As we became more focused on the Cleveland Bay we took
a trip to Wales, UK late in 2002. It was at this time, after meeting
some very gracious Cleveland Bay people and their amazing horses, we
knew more than ever that this was definitely the breed for us. Now,
17 years later, we are pleased with the strides and accomplishments we
have made with the breed and the friendships we have developed with
those who solidified our interest and have encouraged us along the way. During this time we became the largest producer
of pure bred Cleveland Bays in North America; and in some instances when
8 foals were born in a year were the largest single producer in the
world. We are pleased with the contributions we have made to the breed
and the population.
live out with the stallion, mares and foals all living
together in a herd environment. (pictured above with a young filly foal
is our stallion, Joe). In the last couple of years we have made a decision
to downsize our Cleveland Bay breeding operation and will only produce a
couple foals a year now going forward for as long as our more senior
Clevelands choose to and are able to. Once a herd of just over 20 horses; we are now home to as many as can be counted on one hand.
We have had a number of livestock guard dogs over the years. Our current
canid livestock protection unit consists of Oz (Anatolian), Floki (a Kangal dog), Peetz (a Boerboel) and Finn (Rottweiler) Oz and Caesar reside in the barnyard. Oz is
well into his golden years at 9 years old in 2019 and does
his best to look after the few hens that remain and the seasonal turkeys. Peetz finds himself at 7 years old now and does the best he can
with bad hips and elbows. He has finally learned to stop torturing the
hens and is a nice companion for Oz at the barnyard and the two are
good buddies. Caesar has a head the size of a watermelon (the big kind,
not the small round seedless ones) and in spite of his physical
limitations his heart is (figuratively) as large as his head. Floki stays close to the house and manages to look after
and patrol all the other fields with Finn. Finn is not really a farm dog; although he has taken well to
droving the cattle. Finn is Floki’s companion and my occasional running
& rucking partner. Although most predators know to stay away and
go “around” our fencing, Flok and Finn manage to take care of the
unwelcome ground hogs, opossums, raccoons and the occasional fox. The
foxes and coyotes usually steer clear as the dogs on duty at the farm
are constantly reminding them its best that they not to choose to pass
through. Although most of the crew has now grown elderly (and in
Peetzs' case a little bit broken) we adore them. They are not just
livestock guardians, they are family.