Shawn and Beth Dougherty

The Sow's Ear Farm and Pottery

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund


Shawn and Beth Dougherty farm 45 acres of steep, rocky land in eastern Ohio, where they raise beef and dairy cattle, pigs, sheep, and various poultry, and run a small community dairy, Two Sisters Creamery. They write and teach on the topic of small-scale intensive grass-based farming and sustainable food production. Their farming practices develop from the conviction that truly sustainable farming is not dependent on purchased, off-farm inputs, but builds its fertility and productivity through good management of sunlight, soil, precipitation, plants, and animals. Books by These Speakers: The Independent Farmstead

Shawn will be speaking at the North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania Fairs


Check It Out!

Not Suitable for Agriculture Good farming with poor land, small savings, and a lot to learn

Sky-high land costs, lack of capital, and limited farming experience need not be obstacles for anyone who wants to build an abundant, fertile cottage farm. Using the techniques of regenerative agriculture (including intensive grass management, captured water systems, home dairying, four-season gardening for food and forage, and whole-farm “no-waste” composting), homesteaders can grow food, fertility, and a future on land like the Sow’s Ear. Shawn and Beth Dougherty, authors of The Independent Farmstead from Chelsea Green Publishing, built the self-sustaining Ohio farm with their family on land designated by the state of Ohio as "not suitable for agriculture."
Modern Homesteading

Available In:

North Carolina, Sunday 3:30-4:30 p.m., Sustainable Agriculture Stage
Maryland, Sunday 3:30-4:30 p.m., The Livestock Conservancy Stage
Pennsylvania, Saturday 3:30-4:30 p.m., Sustainable Agriculture Sage Sponsored by Farm to Table Western PA

Morning Pasture Walk Forage for the beginning grazier

Shawn and Beth Dougherty, authors of The Independent Farmstead, lead an hour-long "pasture walk" on the Seven Springs slopes. They identify and discuss forage – grass, legumes, brush, and weeds – as pasture for farm animals. Their discussion considers what’s edible, what’s choice, and what’s poisonous – and how you can establish your own grazing practice on even a small acreage. To join the hunt, meet the Dougherty's at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Stage.
Animal Husbandry Nature and Community

Available In:

Pennsylvania, Sunday 7:00-8:00 a.m., Mother Earth News Stage

Mixed Species Management Intensive grazing on the small family farm

Shawn and Beth Dougherty, authors of The Independent Farmstead, share their experience with management-intensive grazing practices for multispecies animals on the small family farm. The Doughertys explore strategies for moving fence quickly and efficiently, as well as methods for using low-tech water solutions year-round. They offer advice on rotational paddock size and shapes based on season, forage, animal species, and topography, all geared to the family farm of 50 acres or less.
Modern Homesteading Animal Husbandry

Available In:

North Carolina, Saturday 3:30-4:30 p.m., The Livestock Conservancy Stage
Maryland, Saturday 3:30-4:30 p.m., The Livestock Conservancy Stage
Pennsylvania, Sunday 10:00-11:00 a.m., Mother Earth News Stage

How to Start a Small Homestead Dairy Extended Workshop

Find the idea of the homestead dairy inspiring but intimidating? Shawn and Beth Dougherty lead a full-day workshop that brings dairy back where it belongs: the farm and the farm kitchen! Practice simple, time-honored methods for preparing naturally cultured fermented milk foods (such as butter, yogurt, Gouda, and mozzarella) using only basic kitchen tools, raw milk, salt, and rennet. Gain confidence to select, graze, manage, and milk your own homestead dairy cow for the safest, most delicious milk, and learn how to use milk byproducts to make ricotta, cultured buttermilk, and soft-curd cheeses, or as nutritional supplements to end your dependence on purchased feed for your nondairy livestock. The family cow is the heart of the homestead; take home the confidence to start your own home creamery!
Animal Husbandry Real Foods Hands On

Available In:

Pennsylvania, Friday 8:00-5:00 p.m., Hands-On and Extended Workshops Room B

Extended Grazing Animals, fences, and strategies

Take home all you need to know to start grazing right away! Wherever you are and whatever your experience level, there's a ruminant to match your land and budget. Learn about different fencing systems and strategies, portable water systems, pasture plants, and how to plan, set up, and move paddocks. Find out how to manage seasonal variations, multiple species grazing, and dairy and meat animals. Shawn and Beth Dougherty, authors of The Independent Farmstead, share their more than 20 years of experience in grass and livestock management to help you overcome your grazing challenges. Note: An extra pass is required for this workshop. Space is limited, get your passes today
Animal Husbandry Hands On

Available In:

North Carolina, Saturday 10:00-1:00 p.m., Extended Workshops
Maryland, Saturday 10:00-1:00 p.m., Hands-On and Extended Workshops