Friday, February 20, 2015

From My Heart

...Not all farms are created equal.  Across the spectrum, from the vast grain expanses of the midwest, to the "classic" cattle ranges of Texas, Oklahoma, or New Mexico; from the aquatic enterprises of the northeast, to the family farmstead anywhere across the USA, no two operations are the same. From the industry standard Sanderson Farms poultry operation to our own family run farm, there are so many differences that you would hardly believe we're both considered to be "farming." Geography and climate create large differences from farm to farm, but more importantly there's the issue of values. 

Values and worldview define who we are as individuals and are just as important in running a business - in our case, a farm. I once heard Dr. John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural & Applied Economics at the University of Missouri, say "How can we meet the needs of the present without harming the hope of the future?" My simplest answer to Dr. Ikerd's resounding question would be: with the right set of values. One of the most fundamental needs of humanity is food. What we have running rampant in our country today is cheap food - the production of which is ruining our homeland, damaging our bodies, and corrupting our very values. 

We have reduced ourselves to a state wherein we believe that a 99 cent hamburger is a great deal, and if the option to super-size it comes along, it is an even better deal. That's the kind of food I'm talking about when I say "cheap food." Lots of times, if food is cheap to the consumer, it means that it is just that - it's food that focuses on only mass production, cheap prices, requires chemicals to produce, package, and preserve, and adds ABSOLUTELY NOTHING back to the land that is being despoiled.
 I looked up the word "cheap" just to make sure that I was using the right word here... Here's what I found: synonyms for cheap - abominable, atrocious, blah, defective, deficient, garbage, gross, inadequate, inferior, unacceptable... Want to know the antonyms? How about dear, excellent, precious, superior, or valuable. Which of these two sets of words would you like to use to describe your food - the substances you put into your mouth to further your health and that of your children? 

As of right now, you the food buyer have the right to choose...While our food freedoms are threatened every day, we still have the right to choose the foods that we put into our mouths. I beg you to know your food! That doesn't mean you have to turn your garage or back yard into a chicken coop for "cluckey", so that you know and name each of your eggs every morning, or buy and take care of your own goat so that you can play classical music as you have a heart-to-heart and get your morning dose of dairy... If you don't have time or space for care of animals, or if animals just aren't your thing, that's fine. We love animals, enjoy taking care of them, and relish the knowledge that we can provide good, clean products for people just like you. 

My values make me who I am and I'm not ashamed of it... I want you, as a consumer, to know a few things about us.  

1) We believe in clean food. Increasingly over the past few years I have become painfully aware that I don't actually know where a lot of food comes from. Do you know where your meat comes from? Do you know what "Cage free" means to the industrial farmers? Did you know that in 2006, the United States imported approximately 3.9 billion pounds of meat and poultry from 29 "eligible" foreign countries? We know where we raise the food we sell. We see it and tend to it daily. We can promise that if we sell it, we raise it!

2) We believe in doing things in a way that will allow our animals to express their uniqueness. We let our chickens scratch and express their chicken-ness. We allow them to find and chase bugs, peck at grass, and enjoy sunshine. We let them crow with the sunrise and encourage them to bond as a flock. Our goats jump, play and explore. We encourage them to form a herd - with leaders and followers. We try to keep things with them that allow them to jump, bounce, and enjoy life by expressing their goat-ness. Our rabbits are allowed to raise their own babies 'till weaning, rather than re-breeding a doe immediately in an effort to increase productivity. We don't want to push any of our animals into a mold that fits a "conventional" system and hampers their uniqueness.

3) We believe in integrity. We strive to tell the truth in all that we do. We're not going to lie. We believe that as image bearers of the One who is Truth, it is our duty to exemplify truth in our lives. We may try to overlook some of the difficulties or necessities of farm life, but we strive for virtue and honesty in all that we do.

4) We believe in land improvement. The explorers of the early 1600's first described parts of America as "wonderfully fertile with grass so tall that the tops could be tied together in front of your chest as you sat in your saddle." What's happened? Why do all of our pastures need chemicals to produce grass? We want to implement a system that doesn't require the use of chemical fertilizers and weed killers to "improve" our land, whether it be to grow animals or vegetables.  We want to use God's system - animals - effectively and responsibly  to help heal the land and negate the need for manufactured chemicals in our grass.  

If these values are important to you, I encourage you to stay up to date with us. Tell your friends about us. Help us to do the things that we agree are important. Help us continue to bring you good food. Lewis Carroll once said "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there."

"It ain't the big timbers, the studs, holin' it up. It's the little things - the nails -that holds it all together. It's the small farms that's made America what it is." Daniel Teague, Mississippi Food Summit and Revival, Jackson, MS 2014.


eligible import countries

amount of imported meat

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