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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Sunday, February 22, 2015


We've got a LOT of frozen milk stockpiled at our place right now.
On these super cold days cases of milk often freeze in the time it takes to drive from our house, where we store the milk (a classy home d├ęcor) half a mile down the road to where the pigs are waiting to slurp it down. While we wait (months??) for the weather to warm, and the milk to thaw, our kids have found a good use for the solid ice blocks.
 Here you have the milk-gloo (igloo made of crates of frozen milk).

Feeding Pigs...On Skis

It has been very snowy.
We've had snow (and lots of it) a few times a week for a month.
At the farm we've also had a huge run of truck trouble (on all three trucks!).
These photos were taken on a beautiful snowy day when we had three broken trucks-
 skiing to feed the pigs.
We started the day out feeling grumpy and feeling like everything we owned was broken.
We ended the day with sore backs (that's a big kid to carry in a backpack),
hot chocolate, contentment, and a good memory.

Chicks on Darrow Campus

The chicks have arrived at Darrow School, where we are helping high school students raise and slaughter chickens for their sustainable "happy meal" project. At first the students would only poke and pet the chicks in their shipping box, but then they quickly became comfortable picking up the chicks. One teenaged boy said "it's like holding an angel."

One of the chicks was injured in transit. We discussed its options. We could leave it and let it die on its own or we could kill it, with the assumption that we would be lessening its suffering. Of killing the chick many of the students said things like "But I don't want it to die." We reminded the class that they aren't pets, and that in the end all of the chickens will die- so that they can have meat. This seemed eye opening, especially after the flurry of chick naming and cuddling. In the end the students decided that it was the most fair to the injured chick to kill it in order to prevent further suffering. One brave 10th grade girl did the job. I was impressed that this young woman and her peers chose the more difficult route in the name of kindness. I am proud to be working with these deep thinking, compassionate human beings. It gives me hope to meet young people like these.

The world's best documented chicks are raised
by teenagers with smart phones...



Cold and Sparkly

It's been cold enough and snowy enough to make our lives
extremely difficult this last month or so,
 but damn is it beautiful. I have never seen it so sparkly.

Guy Time

Tonopah (boar) and Kapugen (guard dog) get along well.
 Sometimes they curl up together to sleep, other times they share a meal.
 Here's a photo of a couple of guys just hanging out at -11 degrees.  

"Story Hour"

We've been regulars at library story hour for over seven years-
 both of our kids live(d) for it. I try really, really hard to be there,
 but sometimes we have work that can't wait and we can't go to the library.
 Here's what farm kid "story hour" looks like.

Darrow School Comes to Climbing Tree

Students helping Colby move a round bale.
We're working with Darrow school, a private high school in New Lebanon. The students have been challenged to recreate one of the most ubiquitous products in America - the McDonald's Happy Meal - from scratch, using only what we can find around us. They have been working with local farmers to help them learn some basic skills like cheese-making or bread-making, and they are trying to grow small pots of produce in various locations on campus.  They are also raising chickens right now in the biology classroom - for meat, not eggs - and another farmer is going to help them slaughter and render them for cooking.  Another team is working on the packaging - both paper and ink.

Ultimately, the goal of the project is to learn something about how we sustain ourselves - locally, nationally and globally - and to begin to think about whether what we are doing is in fact sustainable.  This challenge is the core project in 9th grade history - it was meant to lure the kids into examining essential questions about human geography.

The students are learning project management, how to use social media to advocate for change, research and writing, and self-reflection and evaluation, in addition to content.

For a longer description, you can read this:

Here are some examples of student research:

We've been surprised and excited by how insightful, curious, and thoughtful these students are. We look forward to watching their mistakes and successes (both important!) throughout this project, and can't wait to see what they come up with for a finished project.