Kevin and I spent ten years living overseas in third world countries. One of our first observations, upon arrival in Lima, Peru, was that the people in those countries were not as overweight as Americans! It was obvious from the moment we stepped off the plane.
As our household’s main grocery shopper, one of my second observations was the lack of processed and frozen foods available. There were no frozen fruits or vegetables. No frozen meats, very limited dairy products (one brand of terrible ice cream!). Very few canned or boxed goods were sold locally.
The real deal breaker was a lack of good cheese!
I was a vegetarian at the time. I depended on that cheese! I CRAVED cheese. I could not eat the local cheese, it was THAT bad. Disgusting really. Kevin traveled some for work and he would take a small cooler to fill with 5-10 pounds of cheese from other countries to satisfy me. I hoarded it, doling it out to make it last.
But, that’s neither here nor there.
I wanted to lay the background for why we do what we do here on the farm. Between what we observed overseas and my own digestive issues, recently and officially diagnosed as lots of food sensitivities and a leaky gut, we knew that we needed to be feeding our family better.
In 2009 I quit eating wheat and went gluten free. This helped my digestion a lot.
I began eating meat again in 2012 which immediately began to reduce bruising I had experienced as a vegetarian.
In 2013 Kevin and I tried Paleo - this was great! I felt better than I ever had. It was just HARD to stick to. Alternative ingredients were hard to find in Guatemala and after a few months we gave it up.
Meanwhile, I read every book on farming and producing grass-fed beef, pastured pork and pastured or free range chickens that I could get my hands on.
We purchased the farm in March 2013 as our “retirement” property.
When I finally quit my government job in July 2014, I was ready to dive in. We already owned the property. The kids and I were already living here while Kevin worked a War-zone tour. Why not buy some cows and pigs?
We started with seven pigs, all breeding stock and 6 cow/calf pairs.
The first cow to arrive, Rachel (now nicknamed “Crazy Rachel”) terrified me! She’s beautiful! and she's done some modeling for the webpage, but she has huge horns. Some previous owner fed her treats, and when you don’t provide her with a treat when she comes charging up to you, she swings those big horns at you. I watched her pick up Kevin once . . . I think it took me six months to get over my fear of her.
The pigs were easier. They are generally so sweet and friendly. Well, at least when they are not escaping. Pigs are escape artists. That first group escaped regularly. There is a new group that escapes this year - periodically they show up in the yard and destroy things. Like the yard. And my feed shack. Chasing pigs is so not fun.
Fast forward to today and I’m very proud to say that almost all of the meat consumed by our family in 2016 was grown right here on our farm! About the only exception was lunch meat and anything that we ate at restaurants.
I also grew most of our vegetables last summer and only in December did I need to supplement with veggies from the grocery.
Kevin, the other half of our Farm Team, continues to work in Williamsburg and returns to farm with me on weekends.