I have played around with this blog a little bit but never really done it justice but I find that I really do like to start the day with a little writing and a cup of coffee! So, I am going to endeavor to indulge two of my passions (writing), which always gets put on the back burner and good coffee (a necessity of life!).
The middle and end of 2010 found lots of changes happening on the farm and 2011 will bring even more changes as we grow and diversify even more. I have added pasture hogs, meat rabbits, show rabbits, ducks, more geese, more heritage chickens, more meat chickens, changed to Dorper sheep, bred for more meat goats and am slowly getting started in beef. The end goal of all of these changes is simple:
(1)To produce the safest, cleanest, most flavorful food that money can buy.
(2) To produce this food with the highest standard of natural animal care and respect for the animals that provide these products.
(3) To protect and be good stewards of the land, water and wildlife of the farm
In keeping with those goals, I decided to pursue having the farm Animal Welfare Approved certified. AWA is a third party certifying group with very strict standards of animal care for livestock raised for their meat, milk, eggs and fiber. Each species has a very detailed set of standards that are to be met in order to certify the products from that type of animal. The standards require that all species are raised humanely on pasture, allowing the animals to express their natural behaviors and treating them as humanely as possible. Breeds used should be those, like heritage chickens and breeds of hogs, that flourish on pasture, not breeds bred for industrial (confinement) agriculture. Even the processors that we use have to be AWA certified. I liked the idea of having the farm AWA certified because I found that their standards were in line with how I wanted to raise my livestock. Now my customers get the added benefit of knowing that the farm has been "vetted" by a third party, and will continue to be visited by AWA on a regular basis. As always, anyone is invited to visit the farm, but this gives peace of mind that the animals are well cared for to those who might not be able to visit.
The New Year started out with a nice surprise-an email from AWA letting me know that the farm had been Animal Welfare Approved Certified-yeah!