For the Love of Farming
When I go out each morning, shortly after sunrise, to give the cattle their morning allotment of fresh grass, I am convinced that what we do here on our farm is good, and that we need to keep on doing it. The cows are in their glory, knee deep in a lush mixture of grasses, without a worry; doing precisely what they were created for. The ecology of this intensively managed grazing is ideal. We are sequestering carbon in the form of soil organic matter and building the productive capacity of the farm day by day. We use no toxic materials and the products from our farm are nutritionally superior. Our farm is doing what every farm should do – it is producing high quality food, while caring for the animals and the environment in the most excellent way we can. I think that every farmer, if given the knowledge and opportunities that I have been given, would choose to farm like this. I know that many people who don’t have farms would love to move out to the country and do what I do. So when I am waking up out there with the cows, I am mindful of the inestimable blessing that this farm is to me and my family, and I am eternally grateful for the people and influences in my life that led me down this path.
Later in the day, as we are faced with the stark realities of managing this small, mixed farm with all the complexities of caring for cattle, pigs and chickens on grass, overseeing the logistics of processing, taking orders and delivering our products to families, managing finances when the cost of all our supplies keeps rising, my enthusiasm sometimes grows thin.
It is not easy. If it were, I suppose everyone would farm the way we do. But they don’t, and there are good reasons why they don’t – why agriculture has morphed from relatively self-sufficient family farms like ours to input intensive, industrial meat factories and vast acreages of genetically modified, Roundup soaked plains of soy, corn and wheat. Specialization, along with the immense strides in technology applied to farming have reduced the human element in primary production to nearly zero. That drastically reduces cost. So we have less people involved in farming and cheaper food. Our farm is people intensive and we the people have to be fed and housed and have a reasonable standard of living, just like everyone else, so the food we produce is more costly. In our case, we try to keep the prices in a range that the average family can afford, but we struggle to be financially stable, and have to rely on off-farm income to keep the households afloat. We are not alone in this – most other small farms, whether organic or not, are in the same boat. Our old-order Mennonite and Amish neighbours, who are models of community cooperation and family thrift, each have their own “sideline” enterprise to sustain the farm financially – a machine shop, sawmill, fabric store or similar creative enterprises that employ the family and bring in extra cash. It seems to be a general rule that the small family farm on its own cannot support the farm family.
Sometimes I wonder; are we stuck in the futility of trying to sustain a nostalgic ideal whose time has come and gone? Our first motivation in choosing this life was to pass on to our children the many good things that came to us as youngsters, living in the country and learning from our earliest recollections the wonders of growing plants and caring for animals; the harsh disciplines of hard work that has to be done, rain or shine, day in and day out. Are we only dreaming to think that there is some fundamental value to farm life – perhaps a quality of perspective that helped to shape the free and productive communities of our forebears – or a degree of accountability and dignity that future societies might lack? Although we can’t explain it in airtight terms, we believe more people farming, not less, would make the world a better place.
The agricultural economists will surely point to the impressive efficiencies of the animal factory and the high tech crops. And you have to hand it to them; they feed the cities. The quality of the food may be less than desirable, but there’s lots of it and it is cheap. And most people seem to be satisfied. Ignorance is bliss. The best thing industrial agriculture has going for it is that the public is largely unaware of the details. On our side, having a farm where we are proud to show people what we do, has to be a great advantage in the long run. At least we hope so. And most of the time, like when the sun is breaking the horizon over a field of contented cows, we love what we do. That must be important. So we carry on, swimming upstream.
Chicken is in stock again!
Yes, finally – our first batch of chickens has gone to processing on May 29th and so after being sold out of whole chickens and a number of other products, we are fully stocked again. We have had many positive comments on the taste and texture of our chickens, which we attribute to the way these birds are raised. At about 4 to 5 weeks of age, our chickens are taken out of the barn and placed in moveable hutches in the pasture field. Every morning and night, Mark slides these 8’ x 16’ shelters onto fresh grass so that they can indulge their appetites for everything that lives in the grass ecosystem. No bug, worm or plant is safe from these omnivores, and it is this diverse diet that we believe distinguishes our chicken from the supermarket variety, grown in total confinement and fed only grains. Sam is presently working on a technological solution to reduce the workload involved in moving the hutches. More on this next newsletter.
Place your orders!
Whole chickens 4 to 7 lbs – you can choose small, medium or large. $6.50/lb
Entire chicken in cuts, with breasts, drums, wings, thighs, necks and backs vac-packed separately (2 birds / pk.) – $7.99/lb.
10% Volume Discount for orders of 10 birds or more.
Chicken feet – $ 3.00
July 16, 2023 from 1pm to 6pm
In case you haven’t heard, we are partnering with Starseed Acres, a vegetable farm near Walkerton for a farm tour in July. Tickets are now available! If you are a customer, we will be sending you a code which will get you in for free. If you know you’re a customer and haven’t received the code, then simply email or text us and we’ll add you to our guest list.
Purchase a Ticket or Register using your Coupon Code HERE.
For the Barbecue – Specials this month
Patties – Your choice of ½ beef ½ pork, Garlic pork or Mild Italian pork patties ; 20 lb. box $140.
Smoked Ham steak (old fashioned natural curing) $8.99/lb
Pork Chops – If you want a treat, try these chops from our pastured , certified organic, heritage breed pigs – on the barbecue – delicious
20 lb box – $160 (saving of $79)