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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or contact us with questions or to place orders.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fertilized Oak

Guess which acorn grew on a tree that was fertilized by pig manure last year?

The giant acorn fell from a tiny Red Oak tree in a spot that the pigs grazed in last year.
The average sized acorn fell from a mature Red Oak that was not fertilized.

Never doubt the power of poo (and animal impact)!

P.S. - This is not an isolated incident- all of the Oaks that the pigs foraged around
 last year gave abnormally large acorns.

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's Nut Season!

Hickory nuts

This is a fabulous nut year. Have you noticed? We've been slipping on them there are so many! This is great news for the pigs, who LOVE to eat nuts. Have you tried acorns or other fresh nuts? Yuck- they must be an acquired taste! The pigs effortlessly crack through the tough shells, and gorge on the bitter meats of hickory, acorns, walnuts, butternuts, and beech nuts. At this time of year they turn their noses up at grain, and focus their attention on vacuuming nuts off the ground. A nut-rich diet helps to give our pigs their unique flavor and fine marbling.

Milk-fed Piglets

Well, hello there!

This year we began farrowing our own piglets in earnest.
 Last year we dabbled, this year we've jumped in.
 From here on out our herd will likely remain "closed."
This will help us to preserve our favorite genetics,
 and to reduce the chance of bringing illness
 in from another farm via piglets.
Piglets are one of the very best parts of our job!

We interfere with sows and their babies as little as possible-
 believing that bonding is important and that the mama pigs
 know how to raise their babies better than we could do it ourselves.
Unfortunately, our hands off approach means that we don't
 get to snuggle the piglets as much as we would like.
(It's really hard to keep our hands off the little guys!)

Piglets are usually shy, and skittish, which is why we don't have many
pictures of them.

This litter is unusually friendly-
 I took advantage and spent some time with them today,
 soaking up some cuteness.


Never too young to forage.

Those dangly things are "wattles-" which are found only in Red Wattle hogs.
Red Wattle is a rare, heritage breed with a mysterious origin-
more on Wattles another time.
Margaret (lying down)- nursing her sister's (standing) babies.
Margaret and her sister were separated for a couple of months because
their babies were born at different times. They were reunited yesterday
and Margaret very quickly installed herself as wet nurse.
Her own piglets are big, and strong,
 and are nearby playing with the big kid piglets.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Before we had children we had a mental picture of how we would raise our future children. They would be inquisitive, and be shown the world. They would know nature, and be wild. They would eat well, and know their food. They would calmly and quietly fit into our life, and we would live with our children by our side. They would be loved, and feel happy.
 It isn't quite as simple as this. Maybe someone tried to tell us, but we didn't hear. Parenting is difficult and it's full-time. So is farming. In many ways the work we do with our children is mirrored on our farm (though we never, ever have let a piglet who's having a nightmare climb into bed with us in the middle of the night, and I very much doubt that we ever will).
As a farming mother  (who is pretty tied to this particular piece of the planet that we call our farm)  I often wish I could show my kids more of the world- the part that isn't on our farm (or within a couple hour's drive). I wish they were slightly less wild- especially when I'm trying to make phone calls. These kids really know where food comes from, but I wish they were as excited about the first green beans of the season as they are about cookies. I wish they were quieter and calmer- so that I could (once in a while) complete a thought without interruption. I wish a lot of things (loving them all the while- while I slowly go insane).
 Sometimes it feels like all we do is take care of animals, and soil microbes, and little people. It's overwhelming and exhausting. Recently we were trying to come up with metaphors for our life. I described the incessant noise, and motion, and care taking, and deal-making as feeling like I'm inside a rock tumbler. My mother thought it seemed like we live in a discotheque, with lots of strobe lights. From inside the discotheque- rock tumbler it feels as though we're doing everything wrong.
BUT...then miracle of miracles: I look back at the pictures I've taken in the last couple of weeks. It happens every time I upload pictures from my camera- I see that our life is exactly how it should be (though VERY loud). Our kids have found an entire universe to explore on our hillside. Our two year old can find and identify a Black Trumpet Mushroom, our seven year old literally swings on vines like Tarzan. They are perfectly wild and know nature like few adults do. They squeal and chant "yummy, yummy, yummy" when we pick up a whole, dead pig from the slaughterhouse (for delivery)- they know where food comes from in a way many adults do not.  We are living with our rambunctious, LOUD children by our sides. The calm and quiet part- that's never going to happen, but (as long as we don't have a stroke from over stimulation) they have a lot of interesting things to say. They are loved, and my greatest wish (more than for quiet or calm) is that they know it.
Here are some pictures of our wild children. You can't hear the shrieking and bickering so you'll probably think we're living a quaint, simple life.


Young pyromaniacs cooking noodles and beans in a mini self-made
wood fired the driveway.

OK, not the happiest looking face on the little girl, but it was a good time.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Little Visitors... From Mountain Road School

We had a fabulous visit with about 25 kids from Mountain Road School.
The kids were excited to learn, and were gentle with the animals.

You don't often hear of a group of 25 kids that are all willing to try pork rinds,
smoked sausages, and head cheese. Way to go Mountain Road School!

Here the kids are checking out some piglets- they were surprised that
 we don't have a big red barn, pink pigs, or lots of mud.

Super proud to say that not one kid was zapped by the electric fence! Phew!

A Walk in the Woods- Post-Silvopasture

We often field the question about whether silvopasturing
 (raising pigs in the woods) is harmful to the forest. We took a walk in our woods the
other day and this is what we saw. This woodland pasture was used heavily about 9 months ago.
 This section has far more vegetation growing on the forest floor now than it did before,
 and far fewer invasive plants- like Multi Flora rose and Japanese Knot weed than it did
before it was used. We have noted significant growth in saplings since our pigs have been on
silvopasture. We are very pleased with the health of our forests.

    No walk is complete without a visit with pigs and a homemade sword.

This section of pig fence is part field, part woods.
These guys like to come out and sun themselves in the field.
They thrive when they have a varied diet- in this case, from field, forest and dairy.

Gosling Love

Goslings are soft, and adorable, but not too fragile for BIG two year old love.

Sweet kisses.......but this is not recommended.

Pigs. Glorious Pigs.

Piglets- about 15 weeks old. Just before being moved to a new section of fencing.
 So curious!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Beautiful Morning at Climbing Tree Farm/ Young Pig Breeding Group

Early morning chores with no kids makes it much easier to take pictures!

One of these things is not like the others...

Note: To encourage the chickens to graze we feed grain only once per day, this also helps them
to grow at a healthy rate- not too fast. Needless to say, the birds get pretty excited at grain time
and aren't great about turn taking.

Young Mulefoot gilt. (gilt= young, un-bred girl pig)

Young breeding group on field/forest.
We keep breeding groups small, and with similarly sized pigs.

This section of fence was last used about six months ago-
with rest the vegetation comes back quite well. At this time last year the hillside these pigs
 are standing on was covered in six foot tall, super-invasive multi-flora rose bushes. Yay pigs!

Colby spends more time with the pigs, so he typically chooses who will be kept for breeding.
The pigs we keep to breed are selected based on many factors.
Here are some of the things we think about when we choose who will become breeding stock:

how well they forage
how well they respect the fence
 whether or not they are pushy with people or other pigs
whether or not they are loud and squealy
the quality of meat (tested when their siblings go to slaughter)
body conformation
general health
whether their mothers were good mothers

This fence is about an acre in size, roughly half field/half woods.
Five breeders will stay in this space for around a week or two
depending upon the condition of the ground and forage.

Powerful nose.

Meat chickens resting in a shelter made from a (very clean!) used septic tank.

Sheep: curious about the grain bucket I was carrying.

Sheep: so curious about the grain bucket I was carrying that one
 got a bucket stuck on her head.