About Us

The Shire Farm: Meet Your Farmers





The Shire Farm is a 10 acre farm in western Michigan, close to the town of Sheridan and Carson City and about an hour from Lansing and Grand Rapids. We are young farmers, new to Michigan but with family roots in the Great Lakes. We moved here in late 2012 from Colorado, where drought, complex water laws, and high cost of land makes it near impossible for new farmers to get started. We have been very happy since we've moved to Michigan, the people have all been welcoming and friendly, there's more than twice the rain we're used to and the soil can grow just about anything! 


Meet Your Farmers: Farmer Figgins and Farmer Don

Here at The Shire Farm, we believe that in agriculture our primary goal should be health. By designing and managing the health and integration of all parts of the farm—the soil, plants, animals, even the insects—we can improve our own health, revive and revitalize the health of our soil, our animals, our environment, and our communities. Our long-term aim is to develop our farm into as closed a system as is possible—providing our own fertilizers, seed, pest control, and eventually feed and energy. 

The Shire Farm produces sustainably grown produce (vegetables, fruits, and herbs) that means no GMOs, no synthetic chemicals applied to the land under our care--but heirloom and hybrid varieties grown with sustainable practices such as crop rotation, natural insecticides and Integrated Pest Management for pests and diseases, and manure and compost for fertility. 
We use a combination of modern technology and traditional farm practices to create a diverse ecology on the farm. We use temporary electric fencing to move our various livestock around the farm to manage their consumption, waste, and effect on the land; this is called pasture rotation. We raise laying hens, meat chickens, pigs, sheep, and a family dairy cow and her calf. 




The Shire Farm sells its produce, eggs and meats through a CSA program. To learn more about what we grow on the farm and our CSA you can visit Our CSA page. We also sell eggs on farm and during the growing season have a farm road stand where you can purchase some of our produce.

What's in a name? Our philosophy:


You can read more about our philosophy here, but to explain our farm's name first we'll need to explain a few geek terms:

What is a Shire?


From the Dictionary:

Shire
Noun
1.       A county, esp. in England.
2.     Used in reference to parts of England regarded as strongholds of traditional rural culture, esp. the rural Midlands.


        English author J.R.R. Tolkien, famous for his fantasy novels The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, created a large fantastical world called Middle-earth in these books, and one of its regions is called "The Shire." The Shire is an area exclusively settled by Hobbits, and has a rural, food and farm-based culture and economy. Geographically, the Shire is described as a small but beautiful and fruitful land, beloved and cared for by its inhabitants. The Hobbits had an extensive agricultural system in the Shire but were not industrialized. The landscape is modeled off Tolkien's England, rolling hills of lush green grass, with tiny winding streams and small pockets of forest. Politically, The Shire is a voluntarily orderly society with a few elected officials who mostly round up stray livestock. 

“Do you remember the Shire, 
Mr. Frodo? 
It'll be spring soon. 
And the orchards will be in blossom. 
And the birds will be nesting
 in the hazel thicket. 
And they'll be sowing the summer 
barley in the lower fields... 
and eating the first of the 
strawberries with cream. 
Do you remember the taste 
of strawberries?”
 -Samwise Gamgee, 




What is a Hobbit?


“Hobbits have been living and farming in the four Farthings of the Shire for many hundreds of years quite content to ignore and be ignored by the world of the Big Folk. Middle-earth being, after all, full of strange creatures beyond count Hobbits must seem of little importance being neither renowned as great warriors nor counted among the very wise.
In fact, it has been remarked by some that Hobbits' only real passion is for food.
A rather unfair observation as we have also developed a keen interest in the brewing of ales and the smoking of pipe-weed.
But where our hearts truly lie is in peace and quiet and good, tilled earth. For all Hobbits share a love of things that grow. And, yes, no doubt to others, our ways seem quaint. But today of all days, it is brought home to me, it is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”

Hobbits, or Halflings or "The Little People", are a race related to men in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Their average height is about 3' 6". In a 1938 letter to his publisher he described them thus:

"I picture a fairly human figure, not a kind of 'fairy' rabbit as some of my British reviewers seem to fancy: fattish in the stomach, shortish in the leg. A round, jovial face; ears only slightly pointed and 'elvish'; hair short and curling (brown). The feet from the ankles down, covered with brown hairy fur. "
-J.R.R. Tolkien 

Hobbits are unadventurous folk, fond of the simple, rural life of farming, eating, and socializing, but will courageously protect their homes and homeland. They enjoy up to 6 meals a day, if they can get them. One of the most distinguishable facet of Hobbit culture is their architecture. Some hobbit's live in hobbit holes, traditional underground homes built into hillsides and typically have round doors and windows. These buildings blend into their bucolic surroundings, preserving the landscape.

What does any of this have to do with sustainable farming?


We believe that the world needs more hobbits. More Homesteaders, Do-It-Yourselfers, cooks, bakers, brewers, gardeners, radical homemakers, farmers, artisans, craftsmen, and greenhorns. More of Thomas Jefferson’s ideal Americans, the independent, forward thinking farmers. More people invested in the land, a craft, and their communities, striving to stay rooted and help improve them.  


Hobbits live in localized communities, in which they are reliant upon each other for the good of the land and those communities. They live for the simple pleasures of life, but know that resources are not infinite, and so choose to live within the land’s means and retain a comfortable lifestyle. This means a love of the simple pleasures of life--reading, gardening, eating, drinking, and eating some more. Hobbits have little desire for fame or fortune or adventure, but prefer their armchairs and  gardens and books. 

The distinctions between Hobbits and Orcs are for us an environmental ethic to live by. As Hobbits we seek to improve our lives by improving the lives of all the things around us, the earth, the animals and each other. Whereas Orcs seek to exploit those around them for their own gain, and will exploit to any point for profit. 

Hobbits are a peaceful people, but when their homes, their land, or their community is threatened by Orcs--those who do not know limits or restraint, but would rip out the trees, tear up the grass, take what they want and move on--hobbits rise to defend their way of life. 

A hobbit's environmental philosophy is most apparent in their element, their home, their hobbit holes. Looking at Frodo and Bilbo's Bag-End, we can find home and local-based production of food, preserving of that food in the sumptuous larder to extend the harvest, and animals kept on common areas around their homes for grazing. The iconic Hobbit Hole is a fantastic example of Earth-sheltered buildings--a form of green architecture that uses compacted earth against building walls to reduce heat loss and easily maintain indoor air temperature and utilize passive geothermal heating. That's right, heating and cooling your home with the earth. 


We are Hobbits and we are going back the land and to our hobbit holes, to live with our feet in the dirt. 









“This is the hour of the Shire-folk, 
when they arise from their quiet fields 
to shake the towers and the counsels of the Great.”

-Elrond, The Lord of the Rings:
 The Fellowship of the Ring; The Movie. 

2 comments:

  1. Great meeting you in Lakeview on Saturday. I love your site and your pictures! Rosie is adorable.

    ~ Jackie Bissonette, Blue Moon Farms

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  2. Thanks Jackie! We had a great time meeting and talking with you on Saturday. I thinned and weeded our radishes today and thought of you. Thinning always feels like such a waste! But those extra seeds are our insurance. At least the turkeys and chickens get to enjoy the young greens! Hope to see you again, we farmers got to stick together! -Farmer Figgins

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