How It All Began
The farm was purchased by Jim’s parents in 1952. Jim and LeeAnn started farming here in 1977 with a simple corn-soybean-wheat crop rotation as well as a small hog business in the buildings. Major changes over the years include a steady reduction in tillage and crop chemical use as well as an increasing focus upon livestock production. First sheep and then cattle were added to the hogs to provide a grazing species. More than half of the 320 acres is now in grass or hay. Decision-making is now guided by the Holistic Management Model, which considers the environment and family/community as well as long-term profitability.
The livestock businesses are the core of the farm. They help us make the farm more perennial in nature because of the necessary hay and pasture. Cattle are the major grazers on the farm, along with gestating sows. The gestating sows are free to graze the pastures together with the cattle for the entire growing season, and spend much time out there supplementing their reduced grain ration with lush and succulent forage feeds.
Alfalfa/grass hay is made in the farm’s cropping rotation for three years out of the six year rotation. This hay feeds the cattle in the wintertime as well as supplementing the diet of the gestating sows and the older market hogs. The other three years in our cropping rotation are used to grow corn and grain for the hogs, as well as complex cover crops for cattle grazing. This is an environmentally responsible rotation. We do not want to grow corn every year on each acre. So we support our local area by buying the extra corn we need from neighbors and from the feed mill in town.
We use Berkshire and Duroc genetics in the hog breeding. These breeds produce the tastiest pork and they are rugged and hardy, liking our outdoor environment. We use Chester White as well and will soon be bringing in a minor share of heritage breeding, perhaps Gloucester Old Spot or Hereford to help the sow line make maximum use of farm grown and forage feeds.
Passing on the Farm
Passing on our farm to another generation of farmers has always been a goal as well. Just the last few years, this goal became concrete with the interest of our son Josh and his wife Cindy in the farming operations. Their three children are involved, each having an on-farm business.
Pastures A Plenty meat sales began in 1999. We started it because of our desire to get a fair price for our hogs and it has grown enough to use all the labor we can spare. Josh and Cindy and Jim and LeeAnn are full partners in the farm and in the meat sales business. Two daughters and their families, Katherine (and Curt) Dorschner and Carolyn (and Kris) Mahoney also take a lively interest in the farm and the business. Visit our Photo Gallery to see some of Carye’s art, which will give you a feel and understanding for the farm. Curt is Pastures’ graphic designer.
Pastures A Plenty uses no drugs in the feed to promote growth. We think that fresh air and sunshine are the best health guarantee for our animals just as it is for us.
Similarly, since we use only small family-owned processors, there is no need to think of food irradiation, nor have we ever considered doing so. Your food is safe and healthful because the animals were raised in a clean environment, harvested in a clean and humane facility, and the products delivered to you at the proper temperature in clean equipment. “From our Pastures to your Plate” says it well.
We make an effort to blend operations on the farm so that the whole works together in harmony. The stock is maintained on pastures to maximize use of grass and forage feeds. When they are on pasture they form a system with the land that is close to natural. When they must be housed in colder months, care is taken that the manures are well mixed with straws for return to the pastures and croplands. Animals are never confined here on bare floors with no bedding. Rather, all our hog growing buildings are open to the sun and air.
Crops are rotated so that weeds may be controlled with well-timed cultivations. Our farm is very much hands-on, requiring careful management and human attention to detail. We planned it that way. We are proud of our farm and its produce. Give our products a try. You can taste the quality.