2019 was an important year for the monastery farm. Despite the extremely wet and cool spring and the long hot drought which followed, we were able to make significant improvements in our farming system to help meet the needs of our expanding brotherhood.
By using portable electric fencing, we transitioned our dairy goats to a rotational grazing system that allows them to forage in more parts of our forest. This helps the goats receive higher nutrition as well as fewer parasites, and is also beneficial for the land itself.
We increased the number of chickens we keep to around 100. Our many different breeds produce an amazing array of colorful eggs. The monks and visitors eat most of them at our common meals, but each year our monastery bakers use more and more in the kulich and pound cakes that we sell in order to help support ourselves.
One of the most significant developments in our agricultural activity has taken place in our apiary. We expanded the number of our beehives to over 100 at the height of the last season, settling the bees into about 85 hives for the winter. The increase in the number of beehives now allows us to sell nucleus colonies and queen bees to other local beekeepers, and we have recently become members of the West Virginia Queen Producers Co-op. We plan to use the additional income from this newly expanded enterprise to help fund the building of our new church.