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.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"You are what what you eat eats"

Pig eating pasture

Do you have any idea how much a pig eats? A LOT!
Last year we spent almost $11,000 in grain alone. This year we are on a mission to reduce grain expenses, while increasing feed nutrition. Because it's expensive to feed a pig to slaughter weight it is common for farmers to try to cut feed costs. Pigs are omnivores. They'll eat essentially anything....and people have exploited pigs because of this. For example, it's not uncommon for commercial hogs to be fed crates of expired chewing gum (still in the packaging), or other inedible "foods." It's very common for small scale hog producers to feed bakery left overs, like doughnuts and pastries. It seems that, in an effort to reduce spending, many, many, if not most, pig farmers sacrifice quality of feed. We don't do that at our Farm.
At our farm we believe "you are what what you eat eats" (read it again, it's not a typo, it's a quote from farm guru, Joel Salatin). We, the farmers at Climbing Tree Farm, don't eat pastries (or wrapped packages of chewing gum for that matter) for every meal, because we think that's gross and that it would make us unhealthy. The same follows for our animals. Not only would our animals' quality of life suffer, but their meat would be less healthy for human consumption, and it wouldn't taste as good. We're going for animals that are happy, healthy on and off the hoof (when they are alive and when they're on your plate), with the best possible flavor, which means we have to feed them well.

Photo: We're on a mission to reduce grain expenses, while increasing feed nutrition. We are currently experimenting with a mix of grass-fed dairy, whey, local grain, vegetables, and spent barley (from local breweries). These piggies eat better than most people! (No expired chewing gum for these guys- like you could find on a large-scale conventional farm). 

It's amazing to watch these beautiful pigs grow on food that would otherwise have become garbage. 

Thank you High Lawn Farm, Berkshire Blue, Abode Farm, Ioka Farm, Cricket Creek Farm, Wandering Star Brewery, and Beer Diviner!
Grass-fed Dairy (You should see our weekly recycling!)

 So, what have we done to reduce grain costs? Our animals are kept outside on pasture and moved frequently to ensure that they have plenty of roots, tubers, and plant material to nibble on (this is uncommon- most commercial pigs are kept indoors, while most small scale producers keep their pigs in permanent pig pens where it quickly becomes so muddy that plants for the pigs to eat cannot grow). Rotating the pigs through field and forest provides free food. We plant vegetables, like turnips, beets, peas and mangles for the pigs, which they harvest for themselves, and eat. We are also experimenting with a mix of dairy from local grass-fed cows, whey from local cheese makers, local grain, vegetables gleaned from local farms, and spent barley (from local breweries- mostly locally grown). These piggies eat better than most people!

Spent Barley from Local Brewery
Where do we get this food? We collect healthy, edible, "waste" from several local cheese, dairy, vegetable, and beer producers (like left over pumpkins after Halloween, bruised apples, and whey that comes out of the cheese making process).  It is a pain in the neck to collect and manage the foods that we feed our animals.There's a lot of schlepping, and hauling, and milk jug recycling, and mixing, and phone correspondence that goes into feeding our pigs.  But, it's amazing to watch these beautiful pigs grow on nutritious food that would otherwise have become garbage. And so, working together with other local producers we are able to raise pigs that are happy, healthy on and off the hoof, with the best possible flavor, all the while reducing our grain bill.

Piggie Breakfast Cereal:
Locally grown hog feed, spent barley, local grass-fed dairy/whey


Pig eating local gleanned pumpkin after Halloween.

 Thank you:
High Lawn Farm
Berkshire Blue
 Abode Farm
 Ioka Farm
 Cricket Creek Farm
Wandering Star Brewery
 Beer Diviner

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