We never intended to start a farm. We all had other careers and no one in the family had any farming experience. We had purchased 1100 acres of hunting land in Cadiz, Ohio from a coal company and intended to sell a large portion of it off to other hunters. The hunting was great and we were regularly shooting deer and turkeys. We got to know several friends from the area that were either raising beef cattle or raising chickens for a large confinement operation. It was enchanting and relaxing watching the cattle graze on the hills.
And then one of our friends invited us over to show us their chicken confinement operation. In fact, they had to sneak us in at night because no one was allowed in to see the facility. We were excited to see the operation. We stepped into a climate-controlled barn that was the size of a football field. There were three of those barns. The chickens were 2 days from slaughter. There was no room for the chickens to move. There were very calm, almost numb. The operator explained that the food and water came down from the ceiling when it was time to eat. After the chickens ate, they turned the lights off so they would go to sleep, they didn't not want the chickens to move. The chickens never went outdoor, they never saw sunlight or ate bugs or grass. They never got to move or do anything they wanted to do . I had heard about these horror stories but had hoped it wasn't true. But now I saw that it was true and it was horrifying. I remember thinking that I would never eat chicken from a store again.
I started doing research on pastured chicken and eggs, grass fed beef and pastured pigs. I learned all about the health benefits of raising animals in an environment that is natural to them. I was disturbed to find out that almost all the meat you buy in the stores has been raised in a confinement operation where the animals lived a horrible life and never got to do anything that they enjoyed. In addition to that, the animals are fed antibiotics daily to try to prevent all the illnesses that come from animals living in tight proximity to each other. We read The Omnivore's Dilemma. We visited Polyface Farms in Swope, Virginia to see how animals are raised outdoors and allowed to live a stress free life while being protected from predators. The information was life changing.
And that is how it all started.. In the summer of 2014, we built a barn and started putting in electric fencing. In the fall of 2014, our first cattle arrived at the farm. In 2015, the egg chickens and pigs arrived and we started farming.
And that is the way it all began.