In 2003, we moved to a small farm in Bloomington, Indiana. At the time, we believed that we had a pretty healthy diet. Nonetheless, we had begun to question some things. For one, we noticed that typical carb-heavy meals made us groggy, fatigued and overweight. Eating a diet higher in protein made us feel more energetic and took extra pounds off.
We decided to get some sheep to keep the pastures on our small farm groomed. We liked to eat lamb too. The decision to raise sheep was eye-opening. We were told that they needed vaccinations. We were told that they needed chemical dewormers and that these chemicals needed to be changed roughly every six weeks to prevent parasite resistance to the drugs. We were told that ewes had to be penned prior to lambing to ensure proper mothering. We were told that the sheep required high energy supplements to stay healthy. Indeed, after selecting an "easy care," strong maternal breed known for parasite resistance, we discovered that these animals were terribly fragile. Any variance from the above suggestions led to lamb deaths, diarhea from parasites, bottle jaw and death of sheep. We spent long nights with our hands inside of ewes, pulling lambs or putting uterine prolapses back inside.
We attended multiple conferences and workshops put on by agricultural extensions, veterinary groups and university researchers. The more research we did, the more we realized how fragile is the entire domesticated livestock population within the U.S. Nearly every breed of animal, from cattle, to chickens, to pigs, to sheep and even bees is crutched up with protected environments, a steady diet of antibiotics and chemical pharma, high-energy diets and miracle vaccines just to keep them alive long enough to produce food. We didn't like the idea of eating meat with all of these chemicals and we certainly didn't like the vet bills and sick animals. Surely, shepherds in the mountains of Turkey weren't relying on Elanco and Merck Animal Health products to raise their sheep?
As we looked at the methods being used in the animal husbandry industry, we realized that most of these practices were being done to make large scale, fast-turnaround, confined animal feeding operations possible. Breeding of animals to fit this model was being performed purposefully to benefit mega-producers without regard to the health and wellbeing of the animals OR the people who eat them. The result is a domestic animal population that is completely dependent upon these crutches for survival and a human population deprived of nutrient dense, healthy meat with a naturally healthy fatty acid profile. We set out on a very long and painful process of weaning our sheep from the many interventions they'd been bred to depend upon. Instead of grain, we fed only fresh pasture. Instead of pharma, we relied on natural extracts or selection.
Six years later, through seemingly endless blood, sweat and tears, and after learning the importance of continual animal movement, intensive grazing management and taking a crash course in animal health and soil biology, we had developed a herd of sheep that required no vaccines, no chemical wormers, no pharma or natural extracts, no hoof trimming, no lambing assistance, no vets and no diet of purchased inputs. Along the way, we learned how compromised are the soils on our farm (and most everywhere) due to decades, if not centuries, of abusive agricultural practices. We learned just how critical is good quality soil (minerals and biology) to healthy animals and healthy people.
While all of this was developing, we had begun raising a family and came face-to-face with health issues that made us question the mainstream American food system even more. Our youngest son, an infant, could not keep his food down after nursing and our daughter had chronic ear infections and asthma as a young child. Switching to raw, unprocessed milk vanquished both issues and familiarized us with traditional and ancient dietary practices as taught by the Weston A. Price Foundation. We gave up processed white sugar and flour. We set about eliminating processed and packaged foods. We removed cheap, processed vegetable oils from our diet and replaced them with high-quality animal fats and coconut/palm oils and authentic olive oil. We learned about the health benefits of grass-fed and pasture-raised animal products. We learned about traditional ways of fermenting and cooking vegetables and legumes to remove the toxic defenses all plants possess. And we began raising a greater variety of animals on the farm and providing to others the meat that had so transformed our health and our lives.
Today, our family, Larry and Tina and three children, Ethan 16, Elena 14, and Grant 12, run a diversified, multigenerational family farm with cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, laying hens, meat chickens and turkeys.
Phone: (812) 876-5023