Our Boer goats are featured on the back of Vern Switzer’s book, Hard Heads Make Soft Bottoms. Vern is a fellow farmer, neighbor in our valley.
Our farm was featured in the November 23, 2006 edition of The Winston-Salem Journal
A Farm Team: Retired couple find peace working together on property in Germanton

When Johnny Blakley retired from the Winston-Salem Police Department about two years ago, he traded working crime scenes for the full-time responsibilities of running a family farm.

Blakley, 51, and his wife, Robin, bought Buffalo Creek Farm in Germanton in 1992. But both juggled other jobs with working on the farm until retiring because of health problems.

In January 2005, Blakley was found to have a medical condition that disrupts the signals that his brain sends to the rest of his body. It prevents him from working without a break during the day.

The Blakleys say they have never been afraid of hard work, though. And they say that their 34-acre farm requires a lot of it. Teamwork is key.

People in the small town noticed right away that the Blakleys were a team. When they first bought the farm, they decided to build together a shelter in the front pasture.

"We go up and put rafters up, and she's on the roof putting rafters up just like I am," Blakley said. "That was the talk for the service station up here."

"That's the only way for us to get something done - for both of us to do it," said Robin Blakley, who retired after about 18 years at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

She grew up on a farm, so going back to the country was a homecoming for her.

"Our kids are grown, married and gone, so we handle the whole place now by ourselves," Johnny Blakley said. "There's always something that needs doing.

"Mending fences, putting up new fences. It depends on the season."

The couple bought the farm at 6749 S. Germanton Road because they needed a place with more room for their four horses. They had been keeping the horses in a barn and small pasture at their house in Winston-Salem. The Winston-Salem Police Department had a residency requirement that restricted the couple from buying land in Forsyth County outside the city limits.

"We found this farm, and we bought it. Since then, we've gotten into everything but horses," Blakley said.

"There's not much farmland left in Forsyth County that's as nice as this because of development," he said. "The main thing that's keeping this place from being turned into housing projects is that creek right there."

The farm is named for the creek that separates the pastures in the front and back.

"That creek - not only is it what makes it such a pretty place, it's what's keeping it such a pretty place," Johnny Blakley said.

There are no buffalo on the farm, and the horses are long gone, but it does have plenty of other animals, most of them more exotic than on the average farm.

The Blakleys raise Blackbelly Barbados and Hawaiian black hair sheep, Boer goats, Nigerian dwarf dairy goats, guinea fowl, guinea pigs, rabbits, miniature Zebu cattle, and beef cattle.

They sell most of the animals - the hair sheep mainly for meat and the dairy goats for milk, and sometimes as pets because of their small size.

Some of the animals won't be sold, Robin Blakley said.

"I get so attached to the ones I bottle-feed," she said. "I keep them for me."

The farm also has a llama and two Great Pyrenees dogs that protect the pastures from coyotes and other wild animals.

The couple have changed the daily routine at the farm since their two children went to college about six years ago. With time management, a midday break and knowing how to effectively work together, the Blakleys' routine has become easier, they said.

"This is one thing that kept me sane while I worked for the police department," said Blakley, who was a patrol officer.

"I always worked in some of the worst parts of town when I was working."

"To us, it's just basically having something that's peaceful to do," he said.

"We did what we could afford, and we brought it back to being a full-time working farm. Now we've got it where there's little that we can't do."

Lisa Boone can be reached at 727-7232 or at lboone@ws-journal.com.
Hair Sheep Spell Success for Buffalo Creek Farm
by Jenan Jones Benson

GERMANTON, NC - Despite its name, Buffalo Creek Farm doesn’t produce bison, but throughout the property’s history, it has been home to diverse agricultural pursuits.

“It was originally part of a large dairy farm,” owner Robin Blakley says of her farm named for a waterway that runs through the farm. “Then the 34 acres we now own were cut off and used as a goldfish farm.”

When Robin and husband Johnny bought the farm in 1992, it had been abandoned for five years and was so overgrown that Johnny had to stand on the tractor’s seat to mow the pasture. The couple restored a former sharecropper’s home to serve as a rental property and converted the milking parlor into a barn with an apartment. Eventually, the dams on the 21 goldfish ponds were broken and returned to pastureland.

“We started with three hair sheep,” Robin says. “I didn’t want the headaches associated with wool sheep, and hair sheep are easy to raise. They grow a winter coat of hair with a fine undercoat of wool and shed it naturally. So there’s no shearing and no docking tails because the hair doesn’t retain manure or debris. The Blackbelly is a shearless wonder.” She adds that Blackbellies are heat, disease and parasite resistant.

Today Buffalo Creek’s flock includes 37 Blackbelly Barbados and three Hawaiian Black, that are grown mainly for meat.

“The meat of the Blackbelly Barbados is low in fat and cholesterol but is high in protein content,” Robin says. “There is no mutton-like taste and ethnic groups always pay a good price for sheep, and prefer it over beef,” she says.

Over the years, Robin has developed a loyal customer base, by marketing through signage, newspapers, flea markets, and the Internet. She also markets through the International Blackbelly Barbados Sheep Association, of which she is a member.

“What really helped was when my daughter made a website for me, “ she says.

“The Internet brings people from as far away as Florida and Texas. A zoo in Ohio wants a ram from me.”

“Especially during the holidays, my phone rings off the hook, “ Robin continues. “There’s a high demand now for lamb and goat meat. People come to me to buy and I can get a good price for them.”

Buffalo Creek breeds their ewes naturally year-round, using a purebred Blackbelly Barbados ram that is a descendent of a North Carolina State University flock imported from their native island.

“Ewes can be bred any month of the year and can birth anytime, “ Robin says.

“They have babies on pasture, so no lambing jugs, heat lamps or special care are needed.” She adds that due to multiple births, she can get five lambs from some ewes in a year. “That’s good return on your money.”

“I raise the sheep as naturally as possible, “ she says. “I don’t use hormones or antibiotics.” She does worm with Dectomax and trims hooves when needed.

“I feed a sheep ration from Performance Livestock & Feed in Lawsonville, NC,” she says. “It has corn, oats, pellets and a small amount of molasses. A sheep ration must be low in copper, because it can be toxic to sheep.” She also feeds hay grown on the farm and adds a protein tub during the winter. A free-choice mineral mix is available for Buffalo Creek’s flock.

The flock is watered with a water line run to the pasture from the farm’s well.

“We are working with the North Carolina Agriculture Cost Share Program that allocates funds for water quality problems, “ Robin says. “We had a flood in March 2003 that washed out a pipe in a creek eroding the stream banks and cutting off water to one of our pastures. We have hired a contractor and are waiting for work to begin. When completed, NCACSP will reimburse up to 75% of the cost. “

Since the pastures are treeless, the Blakleys have built special sheds to provide shaded, dry shelter.

“Each is built specially for the animal that will use it, “ Johnny says. “Some are elevated to provide dry areas when the pasture is wet. All are made on skids so they can be moved to another pasture. This is also great for cleaning.”

Buffalo Creek also produces meat goats. After raising pygmies for a few years and Nubians more recently, the Blakleys now have Boer goats.

“These should be easier to raise, “ Robin says. “Weather doesn’t matter to them because they have a down undercoat.” Boers also give birth on the pasture and are able to raise their young outside year round except in extremely cold conditions.

“We have thirteen does and one registered, full-blooded buck, “ she adds. “We will mainly sell goats for meat. I’ve joined the North Carolina Meat Goat Cooperative, which will buy any unsold goats for northern markets.

Robin Blakley tends her new Boer goats. Each animal to tagged to track such data as parentage and growth.
Photo by Jenan Jones Benson
Our farm was featured in the May 24, 2004 edition of Farm Chronicle
The Conservation Farm Family of the Year award was presented to Buffalo Creek Farm on October 7, 2004
by Agriculture Commissioner Britt Cobb at Forsyth County's Fall Banquet

Forsyth Soil & Water Conservation District's:
Conservation Connection UPDATE Fall 2004

Congratulations to the Blakley’s

The Forsyth Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors and staff would like to extend a much deserved congratulations to Johnny and Robin Blakley of Buffalo Creek Farm. As the winners of this award, the Supervisors and staff have recognized the hard work and dedication the Blakley’s have made to the conservation efforts on their farm. The Buffalo Creek Farm raises various goat, sheep, and cattle varieties used primarily for meat by ethnic groups desiring their traditional meat species. With this diverse animal population comes the need for equally diverse management on the farm, in regards to pasture use, watering and shelter needs. The Blakley’s through experimentation, innovation and hard work have made the farm productive while protecting nearby Buffalo Creek and its supporting streams on their property. Again, good job and keep up the excellent conservation efforts!
BEFORE                                                            AFTER
Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery, LLC
Farmstead Goat Dairy
3255 Buffalo Creek Farm Road
Germanton, NC 27019