Meet a Farmer: Bill Spencer of Windrose Farms
We caught up with Bill Spencer, farmer at Windrose Farms in Paso Robles. See what he was up to and learn why he went into farming!
CA GROWN: What are you doing today?
Bill: Today I’m doing lamb management. I have a problem with two maiden ewes that gave birth yesterday. Both maidens gave birth while I was away so I couldn’t’ separate their lambs. It was a matter of figuring out who belonged to whom. Every lamb syncs in on the same scent of the mother and there were two scents and everyone was confused, including me. I was bottle-feeding them a colostrum substitute until we figured out who belonged to whom. I was also doing other assorted chores, fixing this and doing that.
CA GROWN: What is your favorite thing about farming?
Bill: The evolution. We’ve been here for 25 years. My wife Barbara and I met in 1989 on a blind date and we found this property together and have been farming here since. We’ve always been organic and farmed on the principles of biodynamic farming. I also love sharing and giving tours of the farm and mentoring new young farmers who want to get into sustainable farming.
CA GROWN: How do you give back to the community?
Bill: We do events on the farm. We give classes on how to grow tomatoes and plants in your garden every April. I also give tours to the organic agriculture class at Cal Poly. I also attend and do workshops with the organic group down there.
CA GROWN: What drew you into the farming profession?
Bill: I have always been in agriculture, raising horses and cattle, among other things, with my family so it was a natural fit. I was born in Pasadena and at age 4 or 5 my family moved to a little five-acre ranch where we grew avocados and raised horses. I went to Cal Poly where I earned a degree in farm management.
CA GROWN: What are your hobbies or pastimes when you’re not farming?
Bill: I have a college roommate who sails the ocean and I like to sail with him; I am able to crew with him a bit. Barbara and I also like to travel because when you’re on a farm, you’re always going to be farming. To take a break from farming you actually have to leave it, so we travel.
CA GROWN: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a farmer?
Bill: Be very well capitalized and really learn your skill set. Get mentored and really learn the art of growing things. Like Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.”