I farm for three reasons, first I want to provide my family with the best food I can and second I want to share my love of gardening with friends and family. Lastly, I want to leave the Earth better than I found it. We have learned that you can not have a productive vegetable garden without an animal presence on the farm. The animal manure and activity on the land is what makes gardening without store bought fertilizers possible. Our farm is only 5 acres and we do not have the ablitiy to raise meat and goat milk for the world, but it is enough to feed our family and close friends. Every year we raise chickens, turkeys, goats and pigs for our family consumption. The farm has finally grown to the point that we are protein independant. The only thing that is raised off our land is beef and that is raised by a very close family friend. There is peace of mind knowing that when there is a bird flu, mad cow, crazy disease outbreak, we do not have to worry about what is on our table.
Every year when I share pictures of these animals on Facebook, I always gets the same response. “I could never raise an animal I was going to eat.” Raising meat animals is often looked at as cruel, when infact, it is the opposit. We raise these animals because we love them. I know that my birds were raised in sunshine and on grass. They were loved and given the best life possible while they were here. I am not willing to give up meat and become a vegetarian, so I want to make sure the animals I eat are well cared for. The meat birds pictured above get moved to fresh grass often, and they are preparing my garden beds for the future. They are fertilizing, mowing and turning up the grass, as well as controling pests. I will add leaf compost and turn it all under to plant my corn. This practice saves me time and money while putting an amazing meal on my table. The turkey our family ate at Thanksgiving, tilled and prepared the ground I will grow my pumpkins on for pie this year. It is all a tasty cycle.
We have not figured out all the checks and balances of farming yet, but when you allow things to work together the way they were designed, the outcome is amazing. Giving back to the land and being good stewards of the reasources we are given is one of my favorite things about farming.