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
By Lisa R. Boone, JOURNAL REPORTER
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.
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
"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.
kids are grown, married and gone, so we handle the whole place now by
ourselves," Johnny Blakley said. "There's always something that needs
"Mending fences, putting up new fences. It depends on the season."
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
"We found this farm, and we bought it. Since then, we've gotten into everything but horses," Blakley said.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hair Sheep Spell Success for Buffalo Creek Farm
by Jenan Jones Benson
NC - Despite its name, Buffalo Creek Farm doesn’t produce bison, but
throughout the property’s history, it has been home to diverse
“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.
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.”
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.
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.”
raise the sheep as naturally as possible, “ she says. “I don’t use
hormones or antibiotics.” She does worm with Dectomax and trims hooves
“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
“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
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!
Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery, LLC
Farmstead Goat Dairy
3255 Buffalo Creek Farm Road
Germanton, NC 27019