With COVID-19 becoming apart of every ones lives and completely turning peoples work and world upside down. It seemed fitting to relate the confinement that you are feeling to one type of confinement you might not think of so much. This type is what is used in most commercial farm settings and they are called Confined Animal Feeding Operations ( CAFO's). These are operations that house thousands of animals and are given minimal spaces in order to live out their life. They are kept indoors with concrete floors and artificial lights. They are not taken outside because their immune system has not been exposed to the outside pathogens and will quickly become sick and die if not treated with antibiotics. These facilities are so concerned about outside sickness coming in that you have to go through biohazard level decontaminating procedures and donning sterile clothes before entering the building if you are even granted permission by the farmer. Is some of this sounding a little familiar right now?
Our journey to farming came out of constant research about our food and where it comes from. Finding out where and how most of the food in the country is raised has caused many people to give up meat altogether. I cannot blame their thought process but I will say I don't think that is the right answer. What we need to do as a country is start by looking for the food we like from a farmer that is actually local and farming in a way that you support. This is leading me to speak about our Pastured approach to farming. First, I'll start by saying that our farm is constantly changing in ways that fit our context in order to keep improving the ground and in turn allowing us to raise and grow the best food we can for you. Our ways have been influenced by many that have been spreading the word of of a different way to farm. Some of these influences are Joel Salatin, Richard Perkins, Allan Savvory, and Charles Dowding.
If you can picture the scene of a CAFO, then let me try to paint the picture of how our animals live the best life we can give them. Our mornings can start out with chickens seeing us coming up to the barn that they have been sleeping in for the night and rushing out to meet us for the feed that they were waiting on. As I am walking up with a couple buckets toward the feed room, I look at our south side pasture and see a nest that one of our sows built. I can make out the littlest movement and make a note to myself to take extra feed to the nest because the sow had piglets. I then look up to a middle pasture and see pigs that are getting raised to sell as cuts, wholes and halves looking at me and letting me know they see me. Turning the corner at the feed room door, our north pasture has our milk cows that give me a glance but then go right to eating the grass or hay (depending on the time of year). The chickens have been running in front of me then stopping and looking back to see if I put feed in the buckets yet, they can be rather impatient. The chickens get fed, the feeder pigs are fed and after giving them some pats on the back and attention I turn to go to the new momma. I am instantly greeted by the other sows and boars in the group, we keep everyone together. Keeping them together has kept them calm and they are very friendly. I leave feed for them and then head to the nest with extra feed for the new momma. She is found laying on her side with 12 piglets by her, unfortunately, 2 are still born but the other 10 are drinking milk and seem to be healthy. I put food down and the mom jumps up and begins to eat. I pat her a couple times and tell her thanks then head to get the cows for milking. The animals are outside and are able to be themselves. I can go up to my animals and pick most of them up without issue, except for the cows and 300 pound pigs of course. They are not afraid to be approached or kept in an area for too long. We allow them to be themselves and in return of a happy life, they provide us with the ultimate sacrifice in order to give us the most nutritious meats on the market. We are happy to be farming this way and to share our journey with friends, family, and our customers.