Herbivores in nature exhibit three characteristics:
1) They group together in mobs for predator protection.
2) They move daily onto fresh forage and away from yesterday’s droppings.
3) They eat a diet consisting of forage only – no dead animals, no chicken manure, no grain, and no fermented forage.
Our goal is to approximate this template as closely as possible. Our cows eat forage only, a new pasture paddock roughly every day, and stay herded tightly with portable electric fencing. This natural model heals the land by thickening the forage, reducing weeds, stimulating earthworms, reducing pathogens, and increasing the nutritional qualities in the meat.
In other words, our beef is raised as a true herbivore should be: It is 100% grass fed, and 100% grass finished on our lush, chemical free pastures.
There are some farmers that will raise their cattle on pasture, and then finish the cattle on an all grain diet for 60-90 days. Worse yet, beef purchased at your local supermarket will most likely have been given a 100% grain diet, which make the animal fat, and it will have lived much or most or even all of its life in a confined animal feeding operation, which makes it sick. So you have a sick and fat animal that has to be given a strong regimen of antibiotics just to keep it alive long enough to be slaughtered.
With all of the marketing about how wonderful grain fed beef is, you may be asking yourself why that is. Did you know that within 48 hours of introducing grain into a cows diet, you can diminish many of the healthy nutritive qualities of the meat by as much as 50%? And, it takes a minimum of 7 months to get those levels back to their original states. On our farm, we instead practice intensively managed rotational grazing methods that enhance the natural growth of the grasses on our pastures, which creates a truly sustainable system that requires little additional input from us. In our system the cattle are moved every 24-48 hours from one paddock to the next.
At no time do we offer our cattle any grain, any growth hormone, and at no time are they confined in an industrial feedlot setting. In fact, you may have heard about the “one bad day” approach to raising livestock, where the animal is raised happily on one farm its entire life until its last day, where it has a bit of a bad day.
At our farm, we’ve taken that approach even further and refer to our method of raising real, wholesome, nutrient dense food as “one short day” farming. Every day our cows are alive is a good day. From calving in April and May in full sunshine on green grass, to continuously having lush fresh grass and fresh spring water, to always being handled with a gentle respect for a life that God created, to never being branded or tagged (our cows wear a necklace with an ID tag), our cows live the best life possible before giving up their own life for our benefit.
As you can tell, we’re passionate about our food and our health, and we’re passionate about our beef. What other healthy, healing meats do we offer?
We use 10 ft. X 12 ft. X 2 ft. high floorless, portable field shelters housing about 50 birds each to grow these 9-10 week meat birds. Moved at least once a day to a fresh pasture paddock, these birds receive fresh air, exercise, sunshine, and all the heirloom, beyond organic, self-raised grain they want. Integrating the cows to mow ahead of the shelters shortens the grass and encourages ingestion of tender, fresh sprouts. In other words, we want every animal to eat as much salad (green material) as its full genetic potential will allow.
The genetic stock of our broilers comes from the American and European old heritage breed developed to meet the highest standards of the French Label Rouge Free Range program. The “Freedom Rangers” are a slower growing breed naturally better suited to being raised outdoors on pasture in the sunlight and fresh air. They’re sturdy, active birds, always foraging for seeds and bugs and whatever a chicken likes to eat
We keep layers for at least two production years. After that point, however, they slow down and often don’t lay enough eggs to be economical – so we dress these old birds. What many people don’t know is that the older the animal, the more nutrient dense it becomes. Although they are tougher than the young broilers, the taste is incomparably superior and the broth is exquisite. These must be slow cooked in order to be tender.
A mobile chicken coop follows the cows in their rotation. The chicken coop is a 12 ft. X 20 ft. portable henhouse and the laying hens free range from it, eating bugs and scratching through cattle droppings to sanitize the pasture just like birds in nature that always follow herbivores as biological cleansers. These hens live the most wonderful life a chicken can, with ample shade, fresh spring water, all the free-choice non-gmo grain ration they want, real tree branch roosts, cozy nesting boxes, and an extremely well ventilated and sanitary coop.
Another mobile shelter offers shelter to the turkeys inside their electrified-netting paddock. Moved every couple of days to a fresh pasture, the turkeys ingest copious amounts of grass to supplement their home-grown grain ration.
Our pigs are heritage breed Large Blacks, Gloucester Old Spots, and Tamworths. We started with Yorkshires, but found that much of the breeds gene stock has become more commercialized. Over thousands of years, the heritage breeds have developed desirable characteristics such as resistance to disease, high tolerance for inclement weather, and good mothering instincts. This is a far superior animal to the modern crossbreeds that emphasize a high degree of weight gain that benefits the corporate owner to the detriment of the animal and the consumer.
(our Yorkshires from last year to the left, Gloucester Old Spot and Large Blacks from a breeder to the center and right)
Our pigs thrive on fresh forage, and help us maintain our 40+ acres of woods by foraging for nuts and seeds when they’re not on clean-up duty in the transitional areas between woods and pasture. The pigs are moved as frequently as their grazing demands dictates, usually every week or two. In addition, every late winter/early Spring, the pigs are put on tillage duty in the crop fields where they ‘roto-till’ and prepare the fields for the Spring planting.
Our CSA is a little different than the typical vegetable or even fruit offerings from most CSAs that are available from 15 to as much as 30 weeks a year. We do offer seasonal vegetables and fruits – but we also offer meat and eggs year round! We also offer local honey, fresh cut flowers, and soap and candles made after butchering season.
There is a large and ever expanding vegetable garden that is overflowing with heirloom variety plants raised with beyond-organic methods. We save our manure all winter long under roof where it composts into dark, rich, nutritious fertilizer. Because we are in the business of building soil and refuse to disturb the earthworms, we cover the garden bed with this black gold in the Spring and use the horses to pull a light disc over the garden to work it into the top soil. The Heirloom vegetables are planted by hand, cultivated by hand, and harvested by hand. The beds are mulched with our chemical-free straw, fertilized with our chemical-free manure, and watered with our chemical-free manure tea made from our own roof-harvested rain water.
You can enjoy this bounty through-out most of the year when you become a member of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). When you become a member, you get a guarantee of a wide variety of heirloom, beyond-organically grown vegetables for 15 weeks. Members can choose from small, medium, large and canning shares. Local supporters also have the option of picking up their share at our farm on Thursday afternoons.
The harvest season starts on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 and runs through August. Shares start at $350. Sign up can be completed through our website, by mail, or in person. We accept most major credit cards but prefer cash or check.
Fruit & Berries
Raspberries and blackberries abound on the farm, we have strawberries available seasonally, and we have started some blueberries that will be available in the coming years.
The orchard is small but growing. There are neighboring fruit farms around us that we would love to partner with to be able to give our patrons a more complete offering, but none of them see food as we do, or grow food that meets our standards. So for now, the orchard currently consisting of a few Apple and Pear trees, we do not have a very large variety, and of course the fruit is only available in the late summer and fall.
Our heritage breed girls, from Silver Laced Wyandottes to Black Austrolorps to White Leghorns, lay big brown and white eggs all year long. They do taper off a bit in the winter, but we are continually expanding our flock and adding to our egg production capability.