Posted on Leave a comment

Cutting through the claims in grass-fed beef – Pasture Posts #48

Hello again from Watson Farms!

One intention we have with these newsletters is to provide valuable information that can help you stay informed about our food system.  Being that you’re already some of the most informed consumers out there, that can be a daunting task, but hopefully with this issue you will learn something about our food system that you didn’t already know.  

One of the largest problems in our food system today is that consumers can’t easily cut through all the marketing jargon to see how the animals are actually raised.  Many consumers subconsciously give up the struggle to find truth in what they consume, and settle for labels that paint a rosy picture.  

We’re glad you have decided to go beyond the labels, and in the following paragraphs I hope to remind you of five misleading claims that have likely driven you to that decision.

After all, I know how disgusted it makes me feel when I have invested my dollars in something that doesn’t live up to the claims.

Unfortunately, that is happening on a daily basis when consumers buy beef.

Let’s begin:

Continue reading Cutting through the claims in grass-fed beef – Pasture Posts #48
Posted on Leave a comment

Caring for livestock in wintry weather ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️ – Pasture Posts #47

We hope that everyone who has gotten the winter weather, as we have here at the farm, is doing well and staying warm. We wanted to take this opportunity to give you a look at some extra measures we take to care for the animals that you all entrust us with. As your farmer, we feel obligated to be transparent with our practices, so we put together a video this morning showing how we keep our animals fed, sheltered, and bedded during winter weather.

The layer chickens are pretty cozy this time of year in an up-fitted turkey barn that has a deep layer of pine shavings so they didn’t make an appearance in this video. On the other hand, the cattle and hogs stay on pasture year-round so we have to take some extra measures to ensure their well-being during winter weather events. Take a look!

Pigs are a little more susceptible to wintry weather than cattle as they don’t have the hide like cattle do.  So we try to provide them with some more substantial shelter and bedding which they love.  The main objective for our cattle during winter weather events is to provide them plenty of forage (we never feed grain) and some access to wind breaks (trees).  

Continue reading Caring for livestock in wintry weather ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️ – Pasture Posts #47
Posted on Leave a comment

Our beef vs. conventional beef

From time to time, we like to highlight the differences between our methods of production and the industrial methods.  With this edition we will be comparing grass-fed regenerative beef like what we raise and its industrial counterpart — grain-fed beef from feedlot cattle. 

We don’t do this to denigrate other methods of farming, but rather to bring consumer understanding to a new level where they can make more informed choices.  Free markets work best when consumers are fully-informed.  This gives the best indication of the will of the people, because the more we know about our food system the better the choices we can make to align with our family’s goals.  And when consumers vote with their food dollar, not only can our food system change very rapidly, but conventional farmers can then transition to better methods of production as well.  

So lets dive in to learn about why our beef is different.  

#1 – Our cattle are always on grass, never on a feedlot, and only eat grass.  

Continue reading Our beef vs. conventional beef
Posted on

Regenerative agriculture promotes community – Pasture Posts #45

First of all, we hope you had a happy New Year, and we want to say how grateful we are for your support in 2021. We are truly looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that 2022 will bring.  

The new year is a time where many reflect on the past year, but I’m looking to take it a bit further with this edition and reflect on the past 100 years or so as they relate to agriculture.

Most of you are well-aware that industrial farming practices have drastically changed in the last century.  One of the most obvious ripple effects of this shift has become the absence of people on these farms.  We can see this phenomenon right here on our home farm in the 5 or 6 separate homesteads that can be identified and are in varying states of degradation. 

It’s pretty easy to imagine the bustling communities that must have existed in our area and many others around the country in the early part of the 20th century.  These sharecropper houses here on our farm were connected by a series of small, dirt roads some of which we still use today.  Each homestead consisted of a house and a barn in very close proximity. 

Notice the proximity of the barn (now fallen down) to the house.
Continue reading Regenerative agriculture promotes community – Pasture Posts #45
Posted on Leave a comment

A Christmas Message and Some Exploring – Pasture Posts #44

We took a moment yesterday to record a special message for all of you!

We hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas.  We definitely did!  Thanks to our great team who all pitched in, we were able to slow the pace a bit for a couple days and spend some extra time with family.  

On Friday, we took the kids back to the creek where we have been working on a rock crossing to allow us to better access the strip of land between the creek and the property line.  Shortly after adding the rock to make the ford, a beaver (or two) decided that it was a great spot to make an easy dam, as we had done a lot of the hard part.  So we watched the water rise and the small surrounding trees fall over the week or so that the beavers worked on their new dam.  We have yet to find where they are staying, but we’re hoping with a little agitation we can convince them to move elsewhere so that we can continue to access this remote part of the farm.  

Continue reading A Christmas Message and Some Exploring – Pasture Posts #44
Posted on Leave a comment

Lowrys Christmas Parade 2021! – Pasture Posts #43

It’s been a tradition since 2014 for us to participate in the Lowrys Christmas Parade which features tractors and horses only.  It’s held about a mile from our farm so we usually hook up our hay ride trailer, invite some friends to ride along (and help decorate) and take off for the biggest event that our tiny town sees all year. 

We usually try to include some type of livestock on our float and this year we had some broiler chickens left over that were growing a little slower than all their other friends did, so we let them go along for the ride!  We also had help from our friends, the Wishert family, who did a great job decorating among other things.  Special thanks to Abby Wishert for the hand-drawn animals that we thought looked amazing.  

An estimated 10,000 people or more show up most years to see or participate in this special parade and this year there seemed to be as many people as ever.  The line of participants is usually longer than the actual parade route!  It’s truly a big deal around here, and if you haven’t had the chance already, you should make plans to come next year.  Here’s a little bit of what it looked like.

And being that this is the last edition of Pasture Posts before Christmas, we want to take a moment to wish you and your family and very Merry Christmas. We hope that this week is a time that you can enjoy with your family in celebrating the birth of the Savior.

Continue reading Lowrys Christmas Parade 2021! – Pasture Posts #43
Posted on Leave a comment

Thanks for sticking with us! – Pasture Posts #42

All companies have to change the way they do business from time to time if they intend to serve their customers in the future and not just today.  Technology, methods of production, customer demands and many other things change that require a business to adapt if they intend to stay in business.  

One area that we have had to greatly improve upon in the 14 years that we’ve been direct-marketing meats is customer convenience.  Recently I looked back at some customer emails from around 2008, and several things were evidence of how difficult it was for customers to actually purchase from our farm back then.  

For example, up until 2014, to place an order with us you had to email us what you would like.  Then we would try to assemble it and almost every time we would have to inform you that at least one thing you wanted was not actually in stock.  This created a convoluted back-and-forth that could get very frustrating, so only the most dedicated customers would actually stick with us for more than a couple orders.  

Another example is delivery.  While Home Delivery doesn’t work for everyone, we think it is a great step in convenience for most customers compared to meeting in a parking lot or travelling a long way to pick up here at the farm.  Today, we offer Home Delivery with our van to around 150 zip codes in the Carolinas, and with our UPS Eligible products we can serve over 15 states in the Eastern U.S!

Another thing that we’ve greatly expanded on is our product offering.  When we first started in 2007 we just offered beef, thus the web address,  (We recently were able to acquire the web address, which now points to our existing website.) But since those early years we have added a myriad of products.  The first of which was pasture raised pork, then chicken and eggs.  More recently we have added staples like milk from a local dairy and also goat cheeses, honey, pecans, grits and cornmeal.  We hope to continue adding items like these to further become your one stop shop for local, wholesome foods. 

So like last week, we want to again extend the invitation to you to suggest new products or new ways that we can be more convenient for you.  Just use the button below to head over to a short form to submit your suggestions.  

So to wrap up we want to say thank you to all of our customers, especially those who have stuck with us through the times when we were working toward better ways to serve you.  We continue to do so, and we hope you will stick with us in the future as well.  When farmers and consumers are committed, we truly believe that we can greatly change our food system to one that enhances the lives of our communities, soil, and animals.

Continue reading Thanks for sticking with us! – Pasture Posts #42
Posted on

Our customers are priority #1! – Pasture Posts #41

We’re not your typical farm.  So some of the decisions and activities that we have to execute are not like that of the average farm. For example, we operate our own home delivery service so we have to think about a whole host of metrics that a typical farm doesn’t.  

Also atypical of an average farm is the fact that customer satisfaction is at the center of all these various decisions.  This is foreign to most farms as they are largely focused on how to produce more with less costs.  And while we also steward our resources meticulously, what drives us at the end of the day is serving our customers with products with which you can feed your family with confidence.  

So with much larger-than-predicted growth over the last two years, we have had to do everything from revamping workflows to putting in place new cold storage to adding new people to our team.  And we don’t see any immediate signs of any of this growth stopping! 

In fact, we want to take this opportunity to make an exciting announcement that we have added a wonderful person with a warm, helpful personality to our team.  Her name is Sara Hope, and she will be coming onboard to help out with customer support as well as providing improvements to the website.  One example of her efforts can already be seen in the various recipe links that are now available on many of our Bundles and UPS Bundles product pages!  

She is still in training, but is catching on fast so when you reach out by phone or email she just might be the one to serve you!

So in the spirit of continuously improving the Watson Farms customer experience, we would like to extend the opportunity for you to give us some feedback.  So if you have some suggestions for us just hit the button below to head over to fill out a quick form.  We look forward to seeing some ideas you have for us!

Continue reading Our customers are priority #1! – Pasture Posts #41
Posted on

Busy, but Thankful – Pasture Posts #40

Wow, it’s been a busy week for us here on the farm as I’m sure it has been similar for so many of you as holidays like Thanksgiving can be at times.  We truly hope that you and your family were able to find some time to relax and give thanks. 

As I was discussing with some of our team yesterday, one of the greatest blessings we have seen in a long time is the incredibly positive response from the growing number of consumers who source their food from a local farm like ours.  This kind of consumer appetite has allowed our farm to completely move away from confinement agriculture.  Not only that, but to do it at a scale that we would have never imagined as late as 2019. 

One day this past week where this consumer appetite was evident was on Tuesday when it was time for many of you to pick up your fresh chickens.  We were extremely pleased with the response from you all!  Thanks for helping us move some chickens!  If you have photos of your prepared chicken that you wouldn’t mind sharing, we invite you to do so by adding a photo to a Google Review!  We love it when customers show us how they are using the meats they get from us!  Here’s one such photo that a customer just sent us.  Thanks, Heather!

Continue reading Busy, but Thankful – Pasture Posts #40
Posted on Leave a comment

Improving supply chains to serve you! – Pasture Posts #39

By many accounts the supply chain issues that we are seeing now will likely last long into the future.  The reasons are numerous, and can’t be solved very quickly.  Let’s look at some actions that we, as a farm, are taking to make sure that we have the products your family needs. 

Our farm is definitely not immune to these issues as we have dealt with late-arriving supplies and equipment on numerous occasions during the last year and a half and as recently as this month.  But there are some things that are intrinsic in our business models that insulate us to some degree from the woes that other industries are feeling right now.  

✅ Home-grown forage

The ability to produce forage in great quantities from our land greatly benefits our grass-fed beef enterprise.  As we briefly mentioned in Pasture Posts #36, cows are equipped with a multi-stage stomach that is excellent at breaking down grass into the protein and energy necessary to build muscle and fat.  This unique capability that ruminants have allows us to graze our cattle instead of feeding them grain.  Grass happens to be one thing that our land is able to grow really well, and by using regenerative practices that we discussed in Pasture Posts #29, our land should continue to grow more and more grass each year!

This home-grown forage means that our cattle require a relatively simple and short supply chain when it comes to what they eat.  It’s all grown here on the farm season after season while regenerating the soil!

✅ Local grains and our own trucks

For hogs and chickens we partner with local farmers to source the non-GMO grains we grind for the supplemental feed rations.  We have even added an additional grain/feed truck to our fleet so that we don’t have to rely as heavily on third-party trucks to maintain our grain supplies.  

Continue reading Improving supply chains to serve you! – Pasture Posts #39