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Many Thanks – Don Abbott (aka the Snarky Gardener)
The Snarky Gardener toured Tierra Verde Farms, his favorite place to buy quality food, including grass fed beef, free range chickens and nitrate free pork.
Tierra Verde Farms (which roughly translates to Green Acres) is a local farm we discovered through a pamphlet at my doctor’s office of all places. A group of us from Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns showed up on a Sunday afternoon to get a personalized 2 hour tour from the owner, Mike Jones. We started in his store front as he explained that his farm is designed based on Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms system of rotational grazing with chickens pasturing after cows, etc. It was easy to see from his presentation that Mike considers the animals part of his family, with all the emotions and attachments that entails.
After our talk, we started the walking part of the tour with the Thanksgiving turkeys. The Snarky Gardener had ordered one a few months back and wanted to meet him/her personally. We found them gobbling away out in the pasture. They came up to us as we looked like people with food. Sorry guys, no food here! Trying to find our specific turkey was impossible as they didn’t have name tags.
From the turkeys we moved onto the meat chickens. They were housed in “chicken tractors” that are moved every day so the chickens can get fresh stuff to eat. Mike’s tractors were very well designed as they had automatic waterers and lots of fencing to keep out predators (hawks, coyotes, etc.). Would love to have a smaller version here at Snarky Acres but I think that’s a few years away.
Next on the agenda were the pigs. They were fenced in under a stand of trees as pigs are forest dwellers in nature. With this type of farm, it’s important that the animals get to be themselves as much as possible so they are happy. These pigs are able to root in the mud and eat plenty of forage, including acorns and other nuts, just like they would in the wild. Mike let us go in to see the pigs closeup though I think his idea was to give the pigs people to play with as they kept nipping at the back of our shoes.
From the pigs we moooooved onto the beef cow pasture. Beautiful brown cows welcomed us by staying together as a herd and looking at us warily. Cows are herd animals and their ancestors survived by keeping together. These particular cows are hybrids, which helps them be productive, much like an F1 plant has hybrid vigor (an interesting concept in the least).
Our final tour stop was the egg laying chickens. They were truly free range with a portable trailer coop to lay eggs and receive shelter. The chickens have been trained to come in by a certain time before the automatic door leaves them out in the cold and vulnerable to predation. Mike told us that after the chickens reach two years old he sells them off for $5 a piece to home egg producers. These older hens don’t produce as many eggs per week (3 to 4 versus 6 for younger chickens), but for a home raiser that should be plenty. Never thought of buying a used egg chicken before (hmmmmm).
If you are interested in learning more or purchasing some meat products (but not Maynard, he’s ours), please visit their website http://www.tierraverdefarms.com/