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Farm Day Success and More! – Pasture Posts #35

Our first Fall Farm Day was a tremendous success!  We were pleasantly surprised with the turnout which was probably around 200-250 people over the course of the event which lasted from 10am to 2pm yesterday.  

A number of vendors were present including: Stephen and Melissa Woody with woodworking products and homemade baked goods, Carmichael Creations with homemade soaps and scrubs, Rockin’ Rags with homemade dolls and stuffed animals, Eunice Calderon with homemade pottery.  First Due Food Company was also available to those wanting refreshments.  

Kids activities included pumpkin painting, cornhole, a corn tub (which was very popular), sack races, and  pumpkin ring toss.

We had many guesses on the number of candies in the jars as well.  The official number of candies in the candy corn jar was 342, and the number in the pumpkin candy jar was 90.  We will be reaching out shortly to the winners.  

The six hay ride tours were very popular where riders learned about the history of Watson Farms and the transition to completely pasture based.  We then moved to the pigs where we were able to see the current and past paddocks compared to an untouched paddock.  This demonstrated the amount of disturbance pigs can do in a short time.  

Next, we rode out to the broilers where anyone who wished was able to get off and take a closer look at the chickens.  Watching them scramble to get crickets and other bugs was definitely a hit.  The cow herd happened to be in the adjacent pasture so we were able to stop by and take a look at the cows while discussing the regenerative practices that we use in producing our grass-fed beef.  

Finally, as we made the final turn back to the starting point, we could see the laying hens and their pasture houses in the distance.

We very much appreciate everyone who came out and showed support and interest in a pasture-based livestock farm.  We can’t do it without the support of consumers like you!

Check out these videos and photos of other activities this week!

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Our pigs vs. Industrial confinement pigs

For this week’s edition, we wanted to highlight an article that shows you some of the differences between our pasture-raised pork and that produced from industrial systems which make up more than 90% of pork consumed in the U.S.  We originally published this article on our blog about a year ago.  Enjoy!

Today we come to you with some truths explaining what goes on with industrial pork production and grocery store pork and how it is different from Watson Farms Pasture-Raised Pork!

This is how we believe hogs should be raised. ON GRASS. This is the life we choose for our hogs on our farm, but this is not how 90% of hogs in the U.S. are able to live.

Hogs raised on pasture are healthier and produce a better product that consumers are seeking. 

Here are 10 ways that our hogs live a different life than conventionally-raised hogs.

Ours: Mother pigs live and birth naturally and are never confined to crates.
Theirs: Mother pigs confined to crates for the entirety of adult life.

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Video Update! – Pasture Posts #32

Chicken processing means early mornings and long days, but I took a moment the other day after moving cows to give a quick update and to thank all of our new customers as well as all those who have been with us for a long time. We truly appreciate all of you, and we look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve you. Thanks for making a difference in our food system and on our family farm!

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Regenerative agriculture blends in with the landscape and doesn’t dominate it. – Pasture Posts #31

Attention: Scroll down for an important announcement about store hours!

As Kelly, the kids, and I went on a semi-working vacation to the beach this past week, one thing that came to mind was just how much of a responsibility there is for those who touch the natural landscapes and ecosystems the most to do it in such a way that has a positive impact rather than a negative one.  We definitely don’t believe as some do that any human touch on the environment is inherently negative, but we take the view that if we use the right methods we can actually leave an ecosystem better than we found it.  

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Farm Day planned for Oct. 23!

We’re pleased to announce that we will be hosting a Farm Day on October 23 from 10am – 2pm! We are building a list of vendors that will be on site, and we are offering FREE hay ride farm tours at the top of each hour. (Arrive at about (9:45am if you want to be on the 10am tour.) Our store will also be open for your shopping needs.

More details will be forthcoming in the coming weeks. We hope to see you then!

farm tours hay ride for kids and adults
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A movement toward better farming is powered by you!

Native grasses, new tools, and customers like you make better farmers

There’s trend taking hold in the Southern plains of the U.S. that we should all pay attention to: farmers converting cropland to pasture. This trend is outlined in this informative article in the New York Post.

It is fairly well-known that the Ogallala Aquifer has been drying up for decades as crop farmers pulled out massive quantities of water for irrigation. As groundwater diminishes the economics of farms are finally catching up with the ecological capacity of the once-abundant natural resources in this region.

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Why our cattle graze tall grass – Pasture Posts #29

We would like to take a moment to remember the victims and families affected by the 9/11 attacks.  That day is still a strong and terrifying memory for us and so many others.  God bless the USA.  

Chances are that even as the informed consumer that you are, you may not have thought much about the topic of discussion that we’ll touch on today. Nevertheless, one thing that we like to do with this newsletter is to give a deeper look into pasture based farming which not only helps to educate others, but also gives you confidence in Watson Farms through the realization that we don’t just give you the common talking points about grass-fed beef and other pastured proteins, but that we actually put into practice many important methods that mimic nature and allow our products to exceed your expectations.

So a strategy that we have to evaluate every month or so with our cow herd is the rate at which we move them over the pasture. While we move them pretty much every day, we vary the size of the paddock in order to provide the desired impact on the cattle and the grass. Larger paddocks allow more selectivity for the cattle which produces better gains, but the more of the forage is left standing. Smaller paddocks concentrate the cattle thereby trampling more grass and forcing them to eat the grass lower. Larger paddocks also have the result of moving the herd over the pasture quicker, while smaller ones are great when we need to stretch our forage supply out.

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The Distance from Farm to Fork – Pasture Posts #28

How often does the average consumer think about how far the food in the grocery has traveled to get there?  I would guess the answer to that is seldom.  But informed consumers like yourself I would guess are far different.  Many of you tell us how appreciative you are that farmers like us are direct marketing to you instead of using the conventional channels.  And we try to make it a point to say thanks to you right back because it takes both a willing consumer and a willing farmer to revive local food systems. 

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Can you really trust the labels? – Pasture Posts #27

pasture posts

Here’s the weekly roundup from Watson Farms and your direct connection to your farmer. Enjoy the latest edition of Pasture Posts where we show you what we were up to!

Labels vs. Knowing Your Farmer

With this edition of Pasture Posts I hope to do two things:

  1. Impart to you some knowledge that will allow you to make the best choices possible with the proteins you invest in.  
  2. Remind you of the huge difference that you have made and continue to make for our farm by choosing to invest your food dollar with us.  

First up: Greenwashing.  Any idea what it means?  It’s the practice of companies or farms falsely claiming that their practices or products are more environmentally friendly or “green” than they actually are.

There’s a few loopholes that the federal government has provided that allows greenwashing by not-so-honest meat companies.  One of the most significant loopholes came from the repeal of country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) in December 2015.  This allows red meat to be imported from other countries but still be labeled “Product of the USA”.  Distributors across the globe were quick to begin taking advantage of the growing consumer demand for grass-fed beef by importing large amounts of cheap foreign grass-fed beef and charging consumers like you a premium for it.  

This imported grass fed beef accounts for about 75-80% of total U.S. grass fed beef sales by value according to a report by the Stone Barns Center.  This presents a huge obstacle to Watson Farms and other farms like us.  Consumers cannot distinguish just by looking at the label which products were actually raised on U.S. farms and which ones might have come from Australia, Brazil, or a host of other foreign countries.

Continue reading Can you really trust the labels? – Pasture Posts #27