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Four Seasons Farm

February 8, 2013

Martin Schaffer of Four Seasons Farm in Leon came to West Virginia by a longer route than most of the Producers for the Wild Ramp. Born and raised in Czechoslovakia he studied animal science, not by choice but because he was forced into an agricultural field by the government.

He came to the United States in 1984 with limited English to work in the Charles River labs in Massachusetts.  When there was a chance to relocate to a facility in the Florida Keys, he jumped on it. He loved the lifestyle there and spent seven years building a 40-foot catamaran when he wasn’t at work. When the place closed he became a charter captain for the next seven years. Martin said he loved it but something was missing. He realized he needed to be creative.

Looking for farmland between Missouri and North Carolina he said his heart immediately felt at home when he walked the 109 acres in Leon. He has been there about 2.5 years now.farm-orcharda

Looking back, as he works hard to build his vision, he wishes he had paid more attention to the stories of the “old ways” he heard as a child. He wants to build Four Seasons Farm into a sustainable unit.farmb view back to animals

Understanding that mono-culture (growing only one crop) tends to lead to problems in a farm’s ecosystem, he has embraced the concept that a diversity of animals and vegetation will improve the health of all. He is primarily using heritage breeds and planting heirloom varieties.free ranging ducks

Starting this growing season and more and more as his farm matures he will be supplying the Wild Ramp with blueberries, peaches, nectarines,  apples, plums, apricots, cherries as well as almonds, pecans, and English walnuts.  He has a good size vineyard and will also be bringing table grapes into the market.  A home garden with a large strawberry bed and asparagus as well as many vegetables is for personal consumption.  Bees help the pollination process.farm-orchard

He raises milk goats as well as a dairy cow, Hampshire hogs, several kinds of chickens, ducks and geese, and two breeds of sheep.

sheep Icelanda

sheep southdownagoatachickensccows

He uses the animal manure to fertilize the small trees, the vines and the gardens. Mulch from cleared trees provides a way to help hold moisture in.  farm vineyardb

He is proud of his farm and how far it has come, but welcomes the concept of help. Katherine and Jonathan Lea are Farm Friends and have visited the farm often and helped with some tasks. For example, Martin says Farm Friends can come pick the blueberries (in season) and keep one-third of what they pick. That way they are helping Martin harvest and can have fresh berries for themselves.

GP puppiesaAnd now, about the puppies. Great Pyrenees make marvelous guards for many farm animals including herds of sheep and even flocks of chicken.  I’ve posted several times about the Great Pyrenees dogs I have seen at work on my farm visits.  Heidi is introduced here (https://wildramp.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/guest-post-heidi-the-great-pyrenees-puppy-10-months/) and Cooney Creek’s dog is shown on her station here ( https://wildramp.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/yearning-for-more-cooney-creek-farm/)GP malea

These dogs are large and as wonderful as their disposition is, they really are not an indoor dog for a suburban house. They are definitely working dogs and, with the proper training as a puppy, will provide a threat to predators, protecting the farm animals.GP puppiesc

Martin has both the sire and the bitch and now, ten puppies. Five males and five females were born January 26 and will be available March 9. Contact Martin asap if you are interested to arrange to visit and reserve a puppy.

puppies for sale

Martin Schaffer —  Four Seasons Farm

304-895-3973   fourseasonsfarm@ymail.com

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Diane permalink
    February 8, 2013 1:42 pm

    Wonderful blog about such an interesting man!! I just cannot imagine being able to decide where you wanted to live without regard to your job, as determined by an outside source!! Imagine all those wonderful farms he looked at before deciding to live in WV!!

    • February 8, 2013 1:54 pm

      Martin saved for a long time for this purpose and now he is working hard with very very full days to get the farm as productive as possible so he can start to see some income.

  2. Nancy Griffith permalink
    February 8, 2013 3:55 pm

    Wish I could get a pup. Love the story.

    Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2013 11:39:54 +0000 To: griffith701@hotmail.com

  3. February 8, 2013 5:22 pm

    If your 10 puppies get “sold out”, please direct interested adoptive families to the local Cabell-Wayne shelter where there have been MANY abandoned Great Pyrenees youngsters AND ADULTS available just this past year. Additionally, there are several nearby Pyrenees rescue groups on the web and on facebook–PLENTY OF PYRENEES TO GO AROUND!!!!
    I have rescued 2 as strays, and believe me, they are GREAT HOUSE DOGS, not just field dogs. Caution: they do need a fenced yard and regular grooming. SWEET, GENTLE GIANTS!!

    • February 8, 2013 5:59 pm

      Ilona, I have enjoyed your photos of the Great Pyrenees that you have rescued. The caution about being a house pet is important, though. You and I and all the rescue people know that many people do not research breeds well to know what would fit their family. They fall in love with a puppy and soon discover that it grows up. If they have not trained it, they give up, and thereby there is a need for rescue. I was happy to learn that Martin had a litter for sale as many of the farmers I have meet in the area and throughout the state have a need for a guardian animal for their herds or flocks. To be properly trained for that task, even tho a lot of it is instinctive, raising a puppy is beneficial.

  4. February 8, 2013 5:22 pm

    I’ve been seeing the Pyrenees dogs out here with herds. First one I ever saw was guarding sheep up in the mountains of Utah. They are extremely impressive dogs and do their job of guarding their flock well.

  5. Katharine permalink
    February 8, 2013 6:07 pm

    Great article about one of my favorite farmers! I also just want to point out that besides Martin’s working dogs (the Great Pyrenees), he also has 3 rescue dogs on his farm… but to protect the livestock, it’s important to have working dogs that are raised around livestock to do their jobs. To a farmer raising livestock around coyotes and other predators, a livestock guardian dog is just as important as a tractor! And his working dogs are loved and valued just as much as all the animals on his farm….

    • February 8, 2013 6:09 pm

      Yes, he has one small house dog and the others are working. The shepherds primarily help keep the property as deer free as possible, which is important for the orchard. They also scare away other predators as they have full range of the farm while the GPs are with the sheep.

  6. vicki w. permalink
    February 8, 2013 7:25 pm

    I understand the job of a livestock dog & the importance of training a puppy for this task. But I can not understand breeding these dogs and selling them for profit while there are many pyrs (pups and adults) dying in shelters every day. It isnt only about the 10 pups for sale but how many of them will be bred and their offspring and on and on. Why bring more into the world while the ones who are already here must die?

    • February 8, 2013 7:32 pm

      The reason there are so many animals abandoned by their owners is beyond the scope of this blog. However,it should be noted that the farmers in this area often end up rescuing multiple dogs and cats that unscrupulous household pet owners dump on country roads. The Great Pyrenees is a working breed and as such, training begins when a puppy. That is not to say there are not wonderful GP dogs in shelters or rescue operations, just that to fit the farmer’s need, training a puppy is typically what is needed for a successful work animal.

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