Farm to Fork


July 17, 2018

Several years ago, a young man stopped to visit with me. He was full of excitement about living a homesteading lifestyle. We had many talks about farming, gardening and family. He was a well read man, who knew what he wanted. It was easy for me to expand his knowledge. At the time, he was very interested in trying to raise his own pork.

I talked with him, showed him and encouraged him to try raising pigs. I explained what I believe to be the best methods. Buy young pigs at weaning called feeder pigs. Keep the pigs in a pen on full feed and water ration. Give them treats like apples, garden leftovers even weeds. Keep their pen clean and keep the pigs comfortable, shade for summer, deep bedding and a warm hut for cool fall days.

The young man, Mark, went home to try and convince his wife that they could grow their own hogs. Sure enough, he wore her down and pigs soon graced the landscape at their farmstead. I went over that autumn and taught him how to humanely butcher his pigs. He learned well and was a quick study. They have raised their own pork now for seven years.

Mark has a young family. He is teaching his children all about gardening and animal husbandry. Mark’s wife too has a hand in teaching. She cans and freezes their food. They make cider, raise chickens for eggs and meat, and produce lots of vegetables in their raised bed gardens.

After using a makeshift yet sturdy pen for a number of years, Mark built this nice permanent pen. At the gate where the pigs enter the pen, he set a stainless steel fork into the concrete. The pigs pass this fork twice. Once when they enter the pen and the last time as they are slaughtered for food.

The fork keeps everyone grounded. The children know that the pigs are not pets. Sure, pet them, scratch their ears and rub them down, but keep in mind the purpose of the pig is to sustain the farmer and his family. The fork also signifies that the pork will be going into their mouths, so the pigs will be only fed wholesome grain, vegetables and other gleaned produce from the farm like apples and pumpkins.

I am pleased to have helped this young man out. He is paying it forward by helping others return to the land. This makes me very happy. We must teach the young ones where our food comes from. They learn kindness, responsibility, nurturing and become self-reliant. They learn patience and tolerance. They learn many things about “farm to fork”. Congratulations on your homestead Mark. Thanks for being such a good student, but most of all, thanks for helping others.

Tis The Season
December 6, 2016, 10:30 pm
Filed under: December 2016 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,


December 6, 2016

Butchering season is upon us. This is one of our 2016 grassfed lambs. We will enjoy him ourselves. It is a bittersweet time. The animals that I have nurtured all year, now become meals for us. It is the cycle of life. I understand, I am grateful and yet a part of me feels a little sad. I stun the animals humanely and treat them with respect right to the end of their lives. I take comfort in that fact.

Our animals are well treated form birth until death. Even in the final seconds of their lives, they know no fear or mistreatment. I believe the stress free lives that they live, translates to very safe, wholesome food for me and my family. They spend much of their lives on pasture in the fresh air and sunshine. I watch over them, keeping them safe and well. We get the benefit of vitamins and minerals consumed from our grass and converted into the flesh of our animals.

We feed the soil with compost and pH buffering limestone. The soil feeds the crops. The crops feed the animals and in the case of cover crops, the soil itself. The animals feed us very nutritious protein, packed with vitamins and omega3. The work that I do taking care of our soils is worth every minute. I see it in the crops we grow and I taste it in the beef, lamb, pork and chicken that we eat.


Tunnel Vision
November 16, 2013, 1:56 pm
Filed under: November 2013 | Tags: , , ,
Snow covered sap road

Snow covered sap road

November 16, 2013

   Why is it that when the way seems so clear,  we often deviate from the obvious?

   Life takes us on some interesting journeys. I remember thinking, back in high school, that I was going to be a butcher. I planned, studied, worked for free and did anything that I could do to learn the butcher’s trade. I was sure that my career choice was a good one. I held that dream for almost twenty years. I did indeed become a butcher. I learned all aspects of that trade and even became quite good at it.

   Farming has been a part of my life since before I was born. In fact, the night I was born, my mother had to quit the evening milking to go to the hospital to have me 😮 It feeds my soul to be around animals and to have my hands in the dirt! It took me a while to find my way, but now I farm everyday. It makes me whole and keeps me grounded.

   I did not inherit a farm. I had to find a piece of ground that fit my vision. I had to buy that ground and everything that went with it. I learned to build, to repair and to find a way where no way existed. My dream always in sight, my goals defined and my shoulder to the wheel.

   I have the blessing of a good wife who believes in me and shares my vision. She lets me farm, trusts in my decisions and loves me beyond measure. This makes my dream possible and my goal a reality. She simply lets me be me.

   When I was young, I could only see myself in the career of meatcutting. I persisted even when things went bad. The jobs were low paying. The work was hard. I bit off a bigger payment than I could make when I bought a slaughterhouse of my own. After a long fight, I gave up, closed the business and moved on.

   The next few years things changed for me, but I stayed close to the land. That is what kept me grounded, satisfied my soul and let me dream again. I took a job in a factory that helped me to dig out from under a mountain of debt that led the way to be here on my farm today.

   I am glad to have had the bumps along the way. It gives me character. It educated me and helped me to become more flexible. My hands now work where my heart is happy. I still work the off farm job to make ends meet and continue to pay down debt. My goal now is to get squared away and work to become a full-time farmer …what ever that means 😮

   It is important to follow your heart in love and life. Define your plan and keep your goals in sight. If things change…adapt…don’t lose sight of your vision for your life.

   Incidently, the farm wash-house where we will butcher our meat, wash vegetables and extract honey is almost completed. I will farm and I will tap my butchering skills every now and then, allowing myself to scratch an old itch. So, is it a vision or is it tunnel vision?   You decide.