How we do it...
Since the beginning, we've adhered to our principles, which we think are worth sharing. Here's a not-so-secret secret...we didn't get into farming to get rich or to take it easy. We got into farming to live a life rooted in our values and the splendor of the natural world, to try to make the world a better place, starting with our little corner of it.
In making every business or agricultural management decision, we consider why we do what we do and what our priorities really are: our animals, our environment, and our customers. We hold them in that order not because they are of descending importance to us, but because we believe that they are self-encompassing. When we do right by our animals, we do right by the Earth, and when we do right by the Earth, we do right by ourselves and our neighbors.
We want people to care how their meat gets made. We reject the idea that factory-farming is a necessary evil if we are to feed the world of tomorrow. We believe that it is possible to cultivate a future in which cruelty, pollution, and deception are not considered the necessary baggage of meat production.
Won't you grow with us?
Rotational Grazing is Amazing!
Rotational Grazing is Amazing!
We practice intensive rotational grazing, which centers around the practice of keeping our livestock continuously moving over the pasture. We use portable, solar-powered electric fencing and towable shelters and water tanks to give our animals everything they need while also allowing them to always be on fresh grass. This method of farming is very low input, except for time. We spend hours each day in the field checking on and moving our flocks. We’ve had neighbors stop by to tell us that we’re “into some pretty alternative stuff,” but really we’re just embracing some of the most traditional and “old-school” management practices and incorporating modern ideas, science, and tools.
Rotational grazing is the way almost all herbivores evolved to live. The ancestors of today’s domesticated livestock--be it the wild ox or bison or mouflon sheep that once roamed Europe-- survived as migratory herds roaming the landscape as they grazed. The advent of livestock farming was among the hunter-gatherer, and later, pastoral nomadic societies in Africa and Asia. These early farmers lived on the move with their livestock.
Our rotational grazing follows the same pattern, allowing our sheep to graze an area of the pasture as a herd for a short period before being moved to another section of grass. This is what they were born for! Being on the move allows our sheep to exercise and explore, they also get the benefit of a diet entirely comprised of fresh, clean forage. Because our animals are always grazing on the fresh grass tips, they are exposed to far less parasites and diseases associated with manure buildup and contaminated feed. This means we do not have to use a regimen of chemical dewormer medications on our herd every few months.
By following the grazing patterns that mimic natural animal presences on the land, we work with the environment to farm without destroying the myriad ecosystem services that are provided by well-tended land. Rotational grazing allows our pastures rest periods during which the grass has time to re-grow. With each grazing, the grasses and legumes in our fields send their roots deeper and deeper into the soil, forming a thick sod. The trampling of our animals’ hooves works organic matter into the soil and their movement naturally spreads manure, replacing high-quality nutrients in the grazed area.
We live and farm on land that is lakefront, so we take every precaution to protect the water quality of Lake Champlain, where we swim, sail, and paddle. If done correctly, agriculture and water quality can coexist. It is factory-farming, monoculture corn production, and concentrated animal feeding operations (when was the last time those Holsteins actually left the barn? Yep...it’s a CAFO!) that cannot thrive without threatening our waters. Well-managed grazing builds topsoil in the pastures, which improves water filtration, sequesters carbon, and provides habitat for all manners of bird and beast. After as little as a year into rotationally grazing our fields, we have noticed a visible increase in the density and species diversity of our pasture plants. Our pastures are home to bobolinks and woodcocks, foxes and voles, ribbon snakes and orb-weavers. Our livestock function as members of a greater ecosystem on our land, part of a larger coalition of wild and natural forces working together.
Our attention and devotion to natural processes result in a healthier, tastier, more environmentally-friendly meat for our customers. Our pasture-raised meat has a more distinct flavor… our lamb tastes more “lamby” and our chicken tastes more “chickeny.” We’ve had multiple people tell us it’s the best meat they’ve ever tasted. There’s no secret, it’s just what happens when you do right by your animals and by your land...you do right by your customers!
The Highest Standard
We raise our animals with a strict emphasis on their welfare and ability to live according to our instincts. Everyone--birds and sheep alike--grazes or forages on rotating pasture. While we believe that the only way to be truly sure that your food is raised ethically and sustainably is to see the farm and meet the farmers yourself, that is not a privilege that every person has today. We are very proud to be certified by a third party organization called A Greener World. This organization is a nonprofit and works exclusively with independent, family-run farms, prioritizing sustainability as well as humane treatment of livestock.
Eat your values! While many people would just assume that a hamburger appears magically on the shelf of the supermarket rather than consider the life and death of the cattle that were necessary to produce that beef. It is our hope that in eating our meat, you are able to respect and celebrate the life of the animal that went into its production. Meat has been a dietary staple of mankind since the dawn of our species. We now live in an era where we have the resources, knowledge, and technology available to produce meat in an ethical and civilized manner that respects both the consumer and the livestock. If you would like to take a critical look at what common food labels and certifications actually mean, check out this downloadable booklet: Food Labels Exposed.