CADOTT — Andrew and Emily Drilling, owners of Harvest Moon Organics farm and The Old Laughing Lady General Store south of Cadott, are trying to get people outside and enjoying what winter on their farm has to offer.
Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the winter, the Drillings are opening up their farm to skiers and snowshoers looking to get out and spend some time in nature.
“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing,” Andrew Drilling said. “I thought it’d be neat to open the farm up to others who want to experience it.”
The Drillings raise chickens, hogs and beef cattle on the 100-acre farm that has been in Emily’s family for four generations. Harvest Moon Organics has 40 acres of pasture that was certified organic by Midwest Organic Services Association in 2018. They have another 60 acres that have been converted to grasses from row crops and is eligible to be certified organic in 2020.
The Drillings are are trying to raise awareness about certified organic products versus products making “organically raised” claims.
“’Organically raised’ is not fair to consumers who are looking for organic products,” Emily said. “Certified Organic means there are standards being followed and adhered to. What standards and policies are in place for ‘organically raised’ claims? Does this mean the animals are pasture raised but fed GMO feeds? Does it mean they are fed Organic feed but treated with antibiotics? Does it mean animals are raised organically but processed with preservatives and chemicals? The list of questions could go on and on because there are no standards defining what “Organically Raised” means.
“This is inconsiderate to the farmers believing in and adhering to the organic standards and who also have to sacrifice some of their income to maintain their organic certification.”
The Drillings have been on their farm for about 10 years. They began direct marketing organic, pasture-raised chicken and non-GMO pork from their Mangalitsa and Mangalitsa-Mulefoot pigs in 2017. Mangalitsa meat is low in cholesterol and high in omega 3, 6, and linoleic acid, and Mulefoot, which is considered critically endangered, are known for their foraging abilities and very lean meat.
They also raised 750 Cornish cross meat chickens last year, up from about 500 the year before, Andrew said, and a herd of Scottish Highland and Hereford cattle for beef. They are working on growing the herd in order to meet consumer demand.
“We want to get the herd a little bigger and move them to the 60 acres that is ready to be certified next year,” he said.
The Drillings opened The Old Laughing Lady General Store on the farm in November 2018. The store carries products from Harvest Moon Organics, as well as food, health and beauty products, art and books.
Emily has started making soap using lard derived from the farm’s pigs and infusing it with essential oils. The soap is available at the store, along with the farm’s certified organic chicken, eggs and pork. The store also offers honey, maple syrup, fermented foods, coffees, teas, CBD, farm made soaps and lotions, and art, books, knit goods and natural health and beauty products.
The Old Laughing Lady General Store is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
With snow coming early to Chippewa County this winter, the Drillings decided to show off the farm during the quiet season. Visitors can ski or snowshoe on trails on their 100 acres of prairie, pasture and some woods. As winter goes on and they get a little more snow on the farm, Andrew said he plans to groom some trails for easier traveling, but skiers and snowshoers can blaze their own trails as well.
In late December, Andrew built a trail groomer by recycling items from their scrap pile. It is approximately 4 feet wide and has a track setter for cross country ski tracks.
“The trails meander through some brushy acres, and we’re surrounded by woods and have 5 acres of woods on our back acres,” Andrew said. “It’s great for people who want to check out some farm animals and get outside.”
Trail maps are available on the farm’s website and printed copies are available in the store.
The Drillings don’t currently offer rentals but point anyone not having gear to Spring Street Sports in Chippewa Falls (www.springstreetsports.com/rental-rates).
Andrew is also putting together a yurt that will be near the trails, and visitors will be able to stop in for a break and to enjoy some coffee or hot chocolate, he said. Coffee, hot chocolate, and other refreshments will be available in the store until the canvas arrives for the yurt’s roof.
“The yurt has been in the shed since we moved in,” Andrew said. “I figured I get it put up so we could do something with it. It’ll give people a nice spot to stop and relax.”
The Drillings are planning on having a ski/snowshoe weekend coming up this winter where they will offer concessions including farm products like their brats. For more information, visit www.harvestmoonorganicsllc.com or call 715-450-3507.