Prospering At 10,000 Feet With Mountain Woods Farm

Farm founder Renee Woods tells us all about the main issues to overcome when farming at altitude, along with the key role her livestock guardian dogs play.

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: Mountain Woods Farm

Renee Woods presides over a first-generation, female-run farm that’s situated at nearly 10,000 feet in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

Named Mountain Woods Farm, the venture was started with a small number of chickens and has grown to house a mix of animals including Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Kunekune Pigs and a range of poultry. The animals are kept safe by the in-house livestock guardian dogs—and Woods now also consults and helps train on-site canines for other farmers.

We spoke to Woods about farming at altitude and the importance of livestock guardian dogs. We also got the scoop on a certain canine called Mae.

Read more: Want to start keeping goats? Here’s what you need to know.

An Introduction to Farming


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“Born and raised on the east coast, I’ve always loved animals and knew I wanted to dedicate my life to caring for them in some capacity,” says Woods when asked how her interest in farming began.

After snagging a job out of college at a reproduction veterinary clinic—”that’s right, my job was to make puppies!”—she traveled a path that took in general mixed animal medicine at an AAHA accredited veterinary hospital.

“Goats and cattle were my absolute favorite patients,” she recalls. “And I knew one day I would have my own pasture full!”

When an opportunity to relocate to Colorado came up, Woods “made my dream of starting a farm a reality.”

Farming at 10,000 Feet

The placement of Woods’s farm at nearly 10,000 feet high affects the way she runs it. “Variables such as climate, slope and our terrain are unique compared to most other farms,” she explains. “Our winters are long [and] we normally see our first snowfall in October and our last snowfall well into June.”

Woods adds that boot spikes “are a must” when carrying essential items to the pastures, and that the land helped determine the sort of animals she wanted to raise.

“I had to select for cold hardiness, animals that were comfortable with an impressive slope and that thrived on our rocky terrain,” she says.

Woods adds that some benefits of farming at altitude include the lack of external parasites, the feeling of privacy and the “never ending fresh mountain air.”

The Importance of Livestock Guardian Dogs

“My livestock guardian dogs are the single most important and single most valuable part of my farm,” says Woods. “Without them, I simply could not raise livestock here with our predator load.”

Read more: Here are some tips for choosing livestock guardian animals for your farm.

Get to Know Mae

Mae is one of the key livestock guardian dogs on Mountain Woods Farm. Woods says that, if Mae could write, she’d add “prefers to work with cattle” on her resume.

In particular, Mae has formed a strong bond with a heifer named Daphne. But, Woods adds, Mae will “fiercely protect any of her charges with the same drive and enthusiasm.”

A Rewarding Farming Lifestyle

“I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else,” says Woods, reflecting on her choice to run a farm.

“I wake up each day before sunrise excited to tend to the animals and the farm, and I go to bed exhausted and fulfilled every single evening. While many people would be intimidated by the amount of work, it motivates me.”

Follow Mountain Woods Farm at Instagram.

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