JacobSpringsFarm:Kolb bid

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Kolb Property: History and description

(this needs to be done - there is an oral history somewhere on the internet of a woman who grew up next to this property, the city of boulder website might be a resource for a little bit on the history of the property - this will help to establish that we are interested in the legacy and history of farming at that location and want to be sensitive to our role in that history.)

Jacob Springs Farm

We are a diversified, beyond organic, local farm just minutes from Boulder on Arapahoe. We specialize in grass fed proteins. We have eggs, beef, lamb, pork chicken, rabbit and duck as well as a grass-based raw milk program;

(improve blurb about our farm)


Make a mini resume blurb for each person.

  • Andre Houssney - Farmer
  • Vanee Houssney
  • Aaron Sprague
  • Courtney Sprague

Goals and programs for the Kolb property:

Rotational grazing

We are passionate advocates of intensive rotational grazing of livestock as one of the best “win-win” situations in agriculture. We believe that rotational grazing, properly implemented, has the potential to increase farm profits and achieve environmental goals of carbon sequestration while building up soil fertility and increasing biodiversity. We are eager to put this conviction to the test in controlled and measured experiments. We also aim to demonstrate the bottom-line benefits to other farmers and ranchers through a partnership with Boulder’s own Savory Institute, the world’s premier advocates for Holistic Management and regenerative grazing. With the lease of the Kolb property we intend to work towards becoming a Savory “hub” farm - a site which demonstrates Savory-style livestock management and serves as a training and demonstration location for promoting regenerative grazing to interested farmers and ranchers. Over the past five years, Jacob Springs Farm has been somewhat stymied in effectively demonstrating the benefits of these systems due to it’s difficulty in obtaining consistent access to land. Since we only own 3 acres of pasture, the farm has relied on around 80 - 100 acres of private leases for grazing land and hay. On several occasions we have upgraded fencing and spent considerable time beginning the process of restoring degraded land only to lose the leases as land owners opted to go in a different direction with their newly valuable pastures or to sell their property. We are looking forward to gaining a measure of tenure that would enable us to realize the benefits of this style of management.

With a successful bid for the City of Boulder's Kolb property, we intend initially to convert a significant portion (roughly 20 acres) of the hayfields into rotationally managed pasture. We would then build up our herd numbers and develop the fencing and watering infrastructure to convert additional hay ground at that location into pasture over a few years. Ideally, if we were able to acquire rights to other hay properties offsite, we would likely convert all Kolb property hay ground into pasture over time. Concurrent with the conversion of hay ground into pasture we would like to develop a program for monitoring soil organic matter and pasture and riparian biodiversity in a variety of locations over time to establish the effect that rotational grazing has on those parameters.

Our rotational grazing program would include cattle, sheep and poultry using portable electric fencing to confine the livestock to just enough pasture for optimal grazing to achieve the correct amount of grazing pressure on the pasture, to strictly limit the grazing duration and maximize the recovery period for each area of pasture. At times we may combine the sheep and cattle into a single “flerd" (mixed cattle and sheep flock and herd) to maximize utilization of all pasture species, at other times we may separate the species into a flock and a herd grazing 180° opposite in the rotation to maximize the time interval between successive grazings by the same species in order to naturally reduce species-specific parasite loads in the livestock.

Grazing poultry could take three different forms: egg production flocks using “eggmobiles", meat chicken production in movable grazing shelters, and, rarely, specialty meat poultry production in portable electric fence grazing units (geese, ducks and turkeys). Eggmobiles will typically follow the cattle rotation a few days behind, reducing fly populations by eating the hatching fly larvae, spreading manure and producing eggs. We envision a likely maximum of 3 eggmobiles each containing around 200 laying hens. Meat poultry in grazing shelters will likely be a minor program of the farm with fewer than half a dozen movable shelters for the first few years. Specialty poultry production will be seasonal, focusing on providing the community with a limited number of high quality turkeys for Thanksgiving and geese for Christmas and Hanukah celebrations.

Seasonal dairy

Drawing from principles of permaculture, our farming philosophy is to stack functions, building multiple streams of income and obtaining multiple yields from each component of the farm. As advocates of smaller diversified farms we rely economies of scope, rather than economies of scale, to achieve financial success. To this end we look more to the business models of older American and contemporary European farming systems than to our North American “scale up” paradigm.

One important aspect of farm income as we envision it on the Kolb property is to stack the functions of the cow-calf operation and the dairy through seasonal milking of dual-purpose cattle. In this model (which is almost totally foreign in our context) shortly after calving in the spring we would begin once-a-day milking of our mother cow herd. These cows would be fed little to no grain or concentrated feeds and will be grazing normally with the rest of the herd. The high quality milk will then be used daily in producing cheese for aging. Rather than milking year-round as in conventional dairies, we would only continue to milk our cows while the rapidly growing pasture plants thrive. In hot and dry years, this may be as little as three months, in cooler, wetter years such as 2014, milking may continue into October or November.

This method achieves several goals simultaneously - quality is maximized as the milk produced by healthy, grass-fed cows is superior for cheese making to conventional milk. Animal health and fertility is promoted as lactating cows are “ died up” for extended recovery times during the winter. Weaning weights and health of young calves are expected to be excellent when raised on their mothers milk. Both the internal (cash) and externalized (environmental impact) costs of feed grains are eliminated since purchased feeds are not used; this reduces both the off farm environmental impacts of grain production and the on farm waste management issues associated with conventional dairies.

In order to make this vision possible at the Kolb property, we envision performing modest repairs and improvements to the existing 12 stanchion dairy parlor, possible upgrades to the electrical service to enable installation of our milking machine (currently Jacob Springs has one milking machine installed and in use and another reserve pump, suitable for use at the Kolb property, in storage) significant roofing and structural repairs to the cattle sheds and totally rebuilding the pens outside the dairy parlor. Long term, we envision possible repair and restoration of the silo for use to store silage or haylage for winter fodder. Jacob Springs currently manages a herd of three seasonal dairy cows with a raw milk share program and limited cheese-making; A successful bid for the Kolb property would enable us to expand this program and make it a viable source of farm income.


Jacob Springs Farm has the equipment and capabilities needed to produce quality irrigated grass hay and alfalfa. In 2014 we cut, raked, and baled approximately 35 acres of hay using our own equipment. This was enough to provide for our own livestock as well as for external sale. The Kolb property would allow us to expand hay production in the short term. In our observation, despite it’s excellent water rights, favorable ditch setup, and suitable stands of alfalfa, the property has been underutilized in terms of it’s capability to produce quality hay. We intend to irrigate more frequently and attempt three or four cuttings per season. Our intention would be to transition the entire property to organic management (although we have not yet decided if we will pursue organic certification) and market the hay to local buyers such as horse owners. Over time, we would aim to decrease the portion of the property used to produce hay and increase the portion used as pasture provided we could retain current hay leases and obtain additional leases of hay ground at other locations.

Field Crops & Pastured Pork

Currently, the Kolb property contains just over 10 acres of tilled, irrigated crop land. This field has been a source of frustration for us at Jacob Springs as spraying in that field is the suspected source of instances of colony loss in our beehives in 2014 and 2012. Spraying of corn growing in this field has coincided with loss of 2/3rds of our honey bee colonies in each of those two years. During the 2013 season, barley was grown which did not have any detectable impact on our honeybee colonies. We are eager to see that field converted to production methods that do not involve spraying pesticides, herbicides or fungicides which can be fatal to bees and detrimental to our local environment.

(Write section on pork from Jacob Springs pork program)

Jacob Springs Farm would be interested in using the Kolb property’s tilled ground to pursue a number of different organically-grown field crops intended for local market including beets, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and squash. In our analysis, the market for local produce is underserved in these crops which have the potential to be sold well into the winter through use of energy efficient root cellar storage. Our approach would be to focus on 2-3 of these crops each year and develop a scaled-down, field-crop approach rather than the "scaled-up gardening” which so many of the market gardens in our area utilize. This would involve furrow irrigation, rather than the energy and materials intensive drip irrigation systems in common use, and would rely on mechanical tillage as well as manual weeding to suppress weeds. in 2014 we successfully trialled this approach on a half-acre of certified organic squash grown near Niwot. We were satisfied with our crop which we marketed through Alfalfa’s market. In rotation with the storage vegetable portion of the field we would include crops into rotation intended to provide weed suppression and build soil fertility - possibilities for this portion of the rotation include rye, vetch, or winter wheat for a fall sown cover crop, and barley, clover or cowpeas for a spring sown cover crop - these crops would then either be harvested (in the case of rye, wheat, barley or cowpeas) or grazed down using our herbivores. This has an advantage over plowing the cover-crop under in that the livestock still improve soil fertility to the field while obtaining an additional cycle out of them

Urban waste steams

(making use of urban waste streams in pastured pork and egg production systems)


(to write) Trees: Silvopasture blurb; nut (hazelnut, chestnut) fruit (apple, plum) and fertility crops (honey locust) - planting strategy - on contour.


(to write) Asparagus, rhubarb herbs and perennial greens.

Stream health strategy

Water quality and the health of the riparian ecosystem is important to us../ (to write)


(prepare graphics of the property and details on any swales, plantings and water retention and distribution features we propose. as well as fencing needed.)

Proposed repairs, construction and modifications to the property


  1. Dairy parlour and mechanical
  2. Pole barn
  3. Chutes and pens
  4. Silo


  1. New construction
  2. Repairs
    1. Loafing shed pen system: access by tractor and wood chip dump truck
    2. Pen for bulls
    3. Pen for calves
    4. Loafing shed roof
  3. Perimeter Fence
  4. Electric fence infrastructure:
    1. Pastures just west of the creek - 9 acres (9 paddocks?)
    2. Pastures just east of the creek - 8.5 acres (6 paddocks?)
    3. Pastures south of the loafing shed - 4.25 acres (5 paddocks?)
    4. Pasture along Arapahoe (SW) 6.5 acres (8 paddocks?)
    5. Total of 28 paddocks
      1. at 1 day per paddock 6 days a week and 2 days 1x per week - 32 days
      2. at 2 days per paddock 56 days

Water infrastructure and structures

  1. New lateral ditches
  2. Stock reservoir or tank and buried waterlines
  3. Swales

New Equipment Wishlist

We have a budget of up to $35k for new equipment to support and maintain ongoing operations as well as those described in this bid. This may be increased to $50k by the sale of current equipment being upgraded or it may be best to keep current equipment as backup options

  1. New Tractor - Main tractor should be 80 hp plus with 3k lbs loader, Utility tractor for haying could be anything but need at least one with a loader capable of over 1T (preferably 3,000 lbs) [https://boulder.craigslist.org/for/d/1959-allis-chalmers-17-diesel/6409090193.html simple puller for $3k)
    1. here's a white 2-135 for $12k
    2. here's a newish one with everything for $30k
    3. good deal lots of good deals here
  2. manure spreader - several on CL for $1k-$3k 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  3. Baler: either proceed with one reliable small square baler and one round baler or two small square balers - current small square is best thought of as a backup baler.
    1. Round baler - several on CL for $1k-$3k $1k - too crappy? 1, 2, here's one for $7k
    2. inline small square baler - here's one for $1,000 here's a JD for $5k
  4. gooseneck equipment/hay flatbed trailer (44k - $5k)


  • Tractor - $20k
  • Balers - $6k
  • Trailer - $4k
  • Misc - 5k

Using the House

Aaron and Courtney plan to live there.