Welcome to our farm! Icebox Flats is a small family-owned sustainable farm north of Colville, Washington and just south of Trail, BC. We raise Irish Dexter cattle, woodlot pork, free-range layers and pastured poultry. Our main focus is our cattle, which are raised 100% grassfed with free choice organic supplements of kelp and trace mineral salt. The cattle in our herd are not fed grain and never given hormones, antibiotics or chemical wormers. During the winter they enjoy local grass hay with no synthetic herbicides or fertilizers and certified organic alfalfa.
Irish Dexter cattle are a hardy dual-purpose breed with a high-quality tender beef. They weigh only about 800-1100 pounds when they are mature, so they are a great size for smaller families and the beef cuts are a nice portion. Our cattle are not grain-finished, only pasture-finished with grasses, clover and some forbs (nutritious weeds). They typically finish out in 18-26 months weighing 700-800 pounds live, or 350-400 pounds at hanging.
Dexters are also ideal milk cows for families with their smaller size and excellent temperments. Our milk cow produces a gallon to a gallon and a half each day with once a day milking that allows the calf to nurse most of the day as well. We breed our Dexters for good conformation, temperment, milking qualities, and beef production. While Irish Dexters can be black, red or dun, horned or naturally polled, the color, horns or lack of, and registration come after those primary considerations. Our herd has some of each type at this point.
Our Dexters are rotated every few days to fresh pasture using portable electric fence reels to define paddocks. They usually know when it's time to go, once we give them a whistle they just follow us to the next paddock, pretty low-stress for them and us. The pasture has no chemicals applied to it and all of our winter hay is certified organic or signed off by the farmer raising it as chemical and GMO free. We usually cut a good portion of our pastures during the season to keep it growing well and often make our own hay too.
Between the two of us we build fencing and shelter, repair and maintain equipment, do our own hauling, move and feed cattle and laying hens, raise and process pastured broilers, design the marketing materials for print and online and try to figure out what it means to plan for and run a small business. Doing that while creating what is becoming a sustainable homestead from almost bare land hasn't been the easy path. Standing in a leaking hay barn in yet another downpour looking at my home that consisted of a 10 foot square plywood room and a barbecue without electricity or running water (besides what was raining on my worldly possessions) during the summer of 2012, I couldn't have told you we'd get this far. Learning what we're capable of, improving the land and watching the animals thrive here has made it more than worth it.
Our land was mostly a fallow pasture used last about 10 years ago for rangeland, grass hay and some oat production. We rotate the cattle to fertilize and give the soil life rest and time to do its job after the hooves have passed. The cattle are fed hay on areas of the pasture that need additional organic matter through the winter. Our pasture is subirrigated from the mountain springs above us. Natural plants are allowed to flower to encourage beneficial insects and we plant trees to encourage the birds. Buffers and wooded areas are maintained for wildlife as well.