Formerly,Bar None Ranch, of Berlin, NY, we are now Climbing Tree Farm, of New Lebanon. We raise PASTURED POULTRY, LAMB, GRASS-FED BEEF, and WOODLAND/PASTURE-RAISED, MILK-FED PORK. We keep our animals true to their instincts- letting our pigs dig, our chickens range, our sheep graze. We feed rotationally graze on pasture and silvo-pasture (in the woods). We work with a local dairy to feed our pigs Jersey milk. We are conscientious stewards of the land, and our animals.

Please visit our website
or contact us with questions or to place orders.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What These Farmer's Do in the Winter

Butter (the mother pig) and the Butter-pats (piglets).

Often, when people hear we are farmers they say something like "oh, how nice, so you have the winters off?" I am here to say this is not so... I can't speak for vegetable farmers, because I am not one, but work does not cease on a livestock farm during the winter or otherwise; not in the winter, nor on our Birthdays, nor on Christmas. Animals eat, and have needs every day, year round. What does change is the kinds of work we do, the population on the farm, and the weather. 

We do not keep poultry over the winter (in the past we kept laying hens, but found that they did not thrive in the housing we could provide them with during the coldest months at our new farm). We do keep sheep and pigs over the winter. January through March is lambing time at our farm, which brings its own special set of chores. We will begin farrowing (having piglets) in the winter later this season. Housing requirements are greater in the winter- which means Fall and Winter are times for harried construction projects, and winter is a time of lugging bedding. Water is a big issue in the winter, because automatic waterers freeze, water must be carried to the animals daily (or often a few times during the day), and ice must be chipped. Our pigs drink a LOT of dairy, which must either be transferred to a heated tank or by the crate into our basement so that it doesn't freeze, and then distributed daily to the pigs. Swift shifts in the weather, and prolonged extreme cold can be hard on the animals, with pneumonia being a particular threat to smaller piglets (though thankfully we have avoided this completely so far this year!). Changing weather conditions make it hard to tell what to expect each day during our chores, and difficult to plan transportation to slaughter or to new forage- we've been alternating deep snow, and deep mud this year! We gain two (nearly full) days each week after holiday farmer's markets dwindle in Mid-late December...which is bitter sweet. We love seeing our customers each week and depend on the income we make there, but it feels fabulous to eat pancakes and play with play dough on a Sunday morning with our kids. (I counted and think we went to 48 farmer's markets this year!- We will have to eat a lot of pancakes this winter to make up for those lost weekend mornings with our kids!). 

While we don't have the winters off, our life is good (and busy) year round.

Transferring milk to heated tanks.
This has GOT to be one of the coldest jobs ever done by the human hand.

A common winter scene indoors at our kid making pancetta, the other making bacon.

Butter-pats roughly one month later- growing well in the winter woods
 -on a diet that includes very little grain.

Pig Garden Update

The pigs have been working hard in their garden. These pictures are from a month or two ago, but illustrate well how efficient pigs are at foraging and how important it is to keep them moving from one spot to the next.  

 It took  17 medium sized (90-120 lbs) pigs 10 days to turn:


into THIS!
We're always yammering on about how important rotational grazing is, especially for pigs. This is why...these pigs were moved in time to prevent soil degradation, but if we had left them longer the soil would have become compacted, and new forage would not be able to grow to feed the pigs in the future (among many, many other reasons that soil compaction is not a good idea). YAY for rotational grazing!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Turkeys are Almost Ready!


Tending her flock.
The Monday before Thanksgiving these birds will be processed at nine the morning. At three in the afternoon on that same day a swarm of Thanksgiving celebrants will swoop onto the farm, and choose their holiday bird. You can't get much fresher than that. Birds have been pre-sold.

Please reserve a turkey for next Thanksgiving for a fabulous meal!

Sharing an apple with a friend.

Pig Garden!

Pigs being unloaded into the "pig" garden that we planted this spring.
These photos were taken in late October, on the day of the first hard frost. We chose to put the pigs in on the day of the first hard frost in order to give the forage crops as much time to grow as possible.

Trying out: mangles, pumpkins, tomatillos, vetch, clover

Yum, grass!
 (Check this pig looks like a white pig, but it's skin is black. What a funny color combo- especially coming from a Large Black sow and Tamworth boar (which is a red pig).

Even weedy gardens taste good to pigs!

Considering a nibble of mullein.
Delicious mangles (feed beets).


The pigs LOVE their new garden. When Colby did his last chores of the night he noticed the pigs chomping away in the garden well past their bedtime.
We plan to add many more pig gardens in the years to come. In the future we plan to grow turnip, rape, and field peas in addition to the pumpkin, vetch, mangles, clover and sunflowers we tried this year.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pigs in the Woods

These photos were taken in mid October. The pigs are content in the fall forest. They are turning away grain in favor of apples that we're picking from our orchard, dairy (and lots of it!) and nuts falling from the trees. Colby has been strategically moving the pigs for months getting them into perfect position for their nut harvest- acorns, beech nuts, hickory nuts and a few walnuts and butternuts. The Iberico ham (grown in Southern Spain and Portugal) is widely regarded as the best ham in the world. The best of the best Iberico hams come from animals that are kept free-range in oak forests, where they consume an acorn rich diet. We are attempting to mimic the growing conditions of the best pork in the that you can come to New Lebanon, NY for fantastic pork, rather than making the long journey to Spain or Portugal!

Pigs are perfectly suited for the forest.

Mulefoot Hog and Berkshire Cross Hog

Group of Mulefoot hogs- noted for their exceptional foraging capabilities and its wild game flavor.

Another happy day on the farm. Pumpkins!

Last year we fed the pigs ten truck loads of pumpkins in the space we later used as our garden for the animals. Feeding pumpkins is FREE (after Halloween), pumpkins are vitamin rich, and the seed also helps to eliminate any worms that the pigs may be carrying. Autumn is a particularly good time of year to worm so that the animals go into the winter with an uncompromised immune system. The other wonderful side benefit of feeding pumpkins is that this year we have dozens and dozens of big, beautiful pumpkins that grew out of the manure left by the pigs!

Our kids love the Easter-egg-hunt-ish feel to finding pumpkins randomly around the animals' food plot, and it was a great lesson for Huck to see the long range effects of the work we did nearly a year ago when we gathered pumpkins from our friends' pumpkin farm.

Our plan is to have many more food plots like these spread around the farm. We will plant crops with like harvest dates together, and run the pigs through them as the plants mature. For example- this year we have pumpkins, mangles (which are basically big beets grown as livestock feed), and turnips planted together. We LOVE when our animals can do the work of harvesting for themselves!

If you're in the market for pumpkins come visit us at the Downtown Pittsfield Farmer's Market in the next few weeks.

A very rare treat in which Huck and Tillie get a  ride for about 15 feet behind the four-wheeler.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thank You Piggies

As a family, when we eat meat we always thank the animal we are eating. When we began farming it was, in part, to provide our kids with healthy meat, and also to show them a real world connection between what they eat and where it comes from- with meat that means: (once) live animals and hard work.

Last night at dinner for the very first time our (almost) two year old thought to thank the piggies. It made me feel so happy and like we were doing what we set out to do when being around our table, eating food we grow made our little two year old feel thankful...even if we weren't eating pork.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Climbing Tree Farm = Clean Glands!

Last week we had the pleasure of participating in the butchering (and curing and cooking) of one of our pigs (wow- never thought I, a vegetarian for over two decades, would say butchering was a pleasure!). The butcher, Jake Levin (of the,, pointed out the pigs glands. Just like humans, animals have glands that are essentially used as filters. Jake showed us the glands from our pig. They were semi-translucent, light pink and had no discernible scent. (I wish I thought to take a picture of them! I'll look back and make sure there isn't a picture with a little gland showing.) He explained that in the past, when he butchered conventional pork, the glands he found were black and stinky. It makes sense that glands from a pig grown in filth and disease would need to work harder to filter out more, than glands on a pig like ours who lived a healthy life.

Clean glands: just one more reason to choose Climbing Tree Farm Pork!

Life's a Beach for Our Pigs


Our leased land includes a large field that was cleared for building a jumbo house, and then the project was canceled, leaving acres of exposed shale. We call this area of our farm the "Shale Field." One of our goals on the farm is to use our animals to improve the health of the land we work- especially the Shale Field. When we moved to our new farm we put in a septic field, which left a large shale patch in the middle of our pasture. Through grazing, winter feeding (think manure and wasted hay), and spreading old hay, we were able to rehabilitate the area quickly and without adding seed (the seed in the hay fell out and volunteered in the new dirt that was created as the hay decomposed). We're hoping to do something similar on the Shale Field...except on a much, MUCH larger scale.
At any rate, we have had a bunch of thunderstorms lately and the Shale Field has turned into Shale Lake (a field of rock is not nearly as porous or absorbant as a field with vegetation!). My guess is that the lake is a couple of acres square and about ten inches deep.
During our last storm a tree fell on the pig fence abutting the new Shale Lake. As you might expect, some of the pigs went exploring. They didn't go far, and our pigs are rediculously easy to put back in their fence (a few apples and some milk and they were happily back in the fence in less than a minute). My sense is that pigs who live well don't feel as compelled to travel as those who live in mud, eating who knows what. It also helps that they're smitten with Colby.
It's hard to leave our farm, even leaving for the afternoon is a challenge most of the time. There are a lot of creatures depending upon us, and things rarely go as planned. On Monday, when the pigs were out, we were supposed to be at a pig roast (Our pig! YUM!). The pigs who were out were so content splashing in Shale Lake, rolling in the sand pile (not sure why, but there's a dump load of white play sand in the center of the field), and chasing apples that Colby was throwing for them that we just had to stay and play...and be a little late to the pig roast.
Honestly, being a farmer is a lot of hard work for little pay, but an afternoon like this, makes it worth it. Our kids were shrieking with joy, our animals were splashing and playing with our children, and we felt good about the way we do our job...even if we're always late to BBQs.
First pig ride.
A lake with a view.
Headed to the beach for a swim.

Running around having a blast!

Just a guy and his hogs.


Sand Castles anyone?
Scratching in the sand.

Rolling in sand.

Our son wants to take them to the beach next time...
reasoning that we wouldn't have to find anyone to farm sit.

First time digging sand.

Playing with friends.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Berkshire Food Guild: Whole Hog Breakdown

This weekend we had a rare treat. We participated in the Whole Hog Breakdown put on by the Berkshire Food Guild, a group of talented local craft food producers who host feasts celebrating the bounty of Berkshire County and the surrounding area. In addition to a full day of feasting, the guild demonstrated whole hog butchery, charcuterie, and fine, nose-to-tail cooking. We feel so lucky to work with such talent, and with people who treat our animals with just as much tenderness and respect in preparation for becoming a meal, as we do in the field. These guys are the real deal.

The following pictures contain photographs of butchering. Some of the pictures show blood. There is always blood when we eat meat...because it comes from animals. We don't consider these pictures icky or gross, but rather as another part in the life cycle of a healthy, well treated, respected animal.
If you're squeamish, please skip to another blog post.

A beautiful brunch to greet us!
 Local fruits and cheeses, breads and pastries made from local flour by Jill (of

The star of the show-
Half of a 199 lb. Red Wattle/Berkshire hog dairy-fed, and raised rotationally on forage by....
Climbing Tree Farm
Butcher Jake Levin ( demonstrating how to remove a pig head.

Chef Jamie Paxton (of
explains how to make head cheese.

Then Jamie went and made headcheese...

She made head cheese on this fabulous, outdoor stove/oven, made by charcutier Jazu Stine

Cutting the carcass into primal pieces (the five main large pieces- head, shoulder, belly, loin, ham).
Demonstrating where to cut to make gorgeous loin chops.

Separating the ham primal from the loin/belly primals.

Top of the ham.


Ham ready to make prosciutto.
Discussing prosciutto.

Prosciutto begun- just half a year in a dank basement and this stuff will be divine!

Ham with ribs in the background.

Removing ribs from belly/loin primals.

Belly/loin and ribs.
Scoring belly/loin to make porchetta.

Seasoning porchetta.

Tying porchetta.

20 lbs. of bliss.
Cut in half to fit in the field oven.

Pulled pork on perfect rolls, coleslaw, grilled corn, Cricket Creek cheeses, stonefruits, melons, blackberry brownies...all local ingredients.
 Wow, so good!



Suzy Konecky ( gives a tour of the farm.

Trimming Coppa.

Salting Coppa to put under cure.
Sampling charcuterie.

Chopping shoulder for sausage.


15 lbs. chopped pork.  


Ground, seasoned pork.

Filling sausage stuffer- throwing ground meat into hopper to avoid air pockets.


Stuffing sausage-
feels kind of like making yarn on a spinning wheel, or patting your head while you rub your belly...
except slipperier.

Italian Sausage.
Lomo (cured tenderloin)



Panchetta (maybe my favorite of the day?)


Tasso Ham, Smoked Loin, Lomo, Coppa, Guanciale, Pancetta, Saussison Sec, Nduja

Belly ready to smoke- fresh bacon only 4 hours away!
Makin' Bacon (and ribs)

Fresh bacon- as in: out of the smoker for less than two minutes.

Whoa, bacon!
Porchetta almost ready.

And it is done...perfectly!

Crispy, porky goodness.


Finishing up dinner in the outdoor cooker.
The baker, charcutier, chef, and butcher with dinner.
Grilled eggplant and dandelion greens with smoked almonds and vinaigrette, heirloom tomatoes with basil, porchetta, arugula with grilled peaches and Cricket Creek Cheese, marinated fennel.

 Adorable little doughnuts.

Dinner with talented, interesting people, a Cricket Creek sunset, super-fresh, uber delicious food,
 and some soft mooing. A damn near perfect, porky day!

No perfect day is complete without them...soft, puffy doughnuts fried in lard.
The Berkshire Food Guild: Jill, Jazu, Jamie, Jake