A few days ago I shared an article on our Facebook page from Modern Farmer entitled, Voting One Way, Eating Another, (Anderson, 2013). The premise of the article is that while the consumer desires to eat food that has been humanely farmed, they are not necessarily willing or able to pay for it. The article was extremely well written and shared my ideals on the type of farming we do here at Patriot Acres.
I have always been a lover of animals, there are photos of me sharing my bottle with a fawn when I was toddling around. I have almost always had a pet of some type. I could always see myself living on a farm surrounded by critters. That love and respect has never changed.
Here on the farm we are working on our “plan”. We chose to farm alpacas for their fiber, gentle nature, and ease of care. We also chose to farm eggs and meat chickens. Our eggs are 100% pasture raised, they have no boundaries as to where they may forage for food. Our meat chickens, while not “free” to roam are raised on fresh pasture daily. We aren’t going to become millionaires, but we are doing something we love, it isn’t a job to us. We anticipate adding pigs and goats, perhaps even a cow in the future. I won’t lie though, the thought of butchering a chicken or pig or cow that I have fed, watered, worried over, and cared for, is a difficult concept. I take comfort in knowing that they were treated with respect and lived a comfortable natural life.
My longwinded point (you didn’t realize I had one, I know…) is that there seems to be an us vs. them mentality when it comes to farming. I don’t claim to be an expert, I grew up around “small, backyard farming” I don’t pretend to know what it is like to depend on farming as my livelihood, BUT, what I do know is that there is a need for the big commercial conglomerates, the thousands of acres of corn, soybeans, wheat…the chicken houses full of chickens. I also know that there is a need for people like us to provide peace of mind, and an ease on one’s conscience. Personally, I don’t like that big farms use gallons of Round Up on their fields, it is killing the bees, but I also know that they need to put out a crop; their year, their livelihood depends on farming crops of edible food, not acres of weeds. I respect that every crop planted is a gamble. I respect that while huge chicken houses and tractor trailers full of chickens are sad to see, not everyone is able to pay for a true pasture raised chicken, and honestly, I don’t know if that is even a viable concept.
At the end of the day, it is all about respect. Respect for the big guy, respect for the little guy, and accepting that there is a market for both. Here on our farm, we are going to do our best to grow in a manner that comforts our hearts and souls, respects the animals and land, and meets the needs of the people who believe as we do.