Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Day on the Farm

Yesterday (Saturday) we took a field trip, as it were, to Full of Life Farm, the farm that we buy most of our meat from. Jessa (Matt’s sis) came along, and we took the hour long road trip to St. Paul, Oregon, in the beautiful Willamette Valley, where Full of Life is situated. The farm is very new (about three years old), run by Bernard Smith, whose family homesteaded the property several generations ago. Bernard made the move from fast paced city life to farming after deciding to revolutionize the way his family ate, and bases his farming practices on Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms. Matt and I try to eat only pastured, grass-fed meat and eggs from pastured chickens, and Bernard is an excellent source of both. He now partners with a neighboring farm and sells pastured beef, pork, chicken and goat in addition to eggs. We believe that the health benefits of eating this meat vs. commercially raised meat far outweigh any extra expense in it, and would far rather eat meat from animals raised on their natural diets on open pasture in the air and sunshine than from those raised in confinement, eating grain and other things their bodies aren’t built to process. Since transitioning to pastured meat, we eat meat less often (once or twice a week) and make the most of our purchases, making stock from leftovers and bones and eating small portions of a cut over multiple meals. We have also noticed that we get sick far less often and have a lot more energy since cutting processed meat out of our diet.

We first got to know Bernard and his farm about a year and a half ago when Full of Life Farm started selling at a farmer’s market in Portland. Matt and I visited the farm once before but didn’t do an in-depth tour. This time, we attended Bernard’s Family and Friends Day, and got a walking tour of the farm, met all the animals, and learned all kinds of things (and were pleased to find out we already knew the answers to a lot of the questions Bernard was asked!), then enjoyed a picnic on the lawn by the farmhouse and a performance by a bluegrass band, with Bernard’s teenage daughter on fiddle. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny and about 80 degrees, and we felt right at home, tramping across farm fields, smelling the sweetness of fresh grass and clover and seeing our food roaming and grazing happily in the sun. 
 (Click on Photos to Enlarge)
Bernard explaining the brooding houses for the chicks.

 Red Broilers free ranging.

 The eggmobile, which follows the cattle through the paddocks so the hens can till the cow droppings into the ground to fertilize and encourage the grass growth. 

 300 red broiler chicks!

 Full of Life Farm uses guard dogs that are trained to protect livestock. Two Bernese mountain dogs guard the chickens.

 Layers free ranging. The breeds here are Australorp, Buff Orpington, Silver-Laced Wyandotte, and Ameracauna.

 Matt and Jessa crossing one of the cattle paddocks. 

 A beautiful Fjord Horse at the barn.

 One of the hogs chilling out in the barn. 

 Isn't Oregon a beautiful place?

 Turkey poults (Broad-breasted Bronze)

 The goats are guarded by an Anatolian Shepherd and a guard alpaca.


We ended the day by stopping into the farm store and buying a 10-lb box of beef cuts (which we split with Jessa) as well as some pork chops and a dozen eggs. We spent $71 and have enough beef and pork to last us at least six months, not to mention some delicious fresh eggs. I am loving the look of our freezer now:

We had a wonderful time, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to know exactly where my meat comes from and how it is produced. There is such value in farmers and grocers who provide complete transparency about their practices, especially in this culture where so much of how our food is made is purposely hidden from us; because if we did know, we wouldn't eat it.


Brenna said...

Joel Salatin is a genius, I love that guy! Have you seen the documentary Fresh? It features him in a large amount of it, and I just love to hear him talk :). Looks like you had a great day! We have noticed too since cutting out processed food and eating whole foods that we haven't been sick also! I usually get at least 2 colds per year, and this past winter was my first without being sick once! Amazing what our diets can really do for us! Hope your jam turned out well!
Brenna :)

Laurel said...

I love that they are using the dogs for a job that they were really bred for. And don't get me wrong, I love my Solomon and he really doesn't mind hanging out in the house, but he's really the most happy when he's in the water. And I bet those dogs on the farm are pretty happy too.