HOW WE FARM
It’s fairly simple, really. We let our animals be animals. Cows eat grass, chickens eat bugs, grass, and corn, and we eat beef and chicken.
We don’t worm our cattle or give them any other preventative medication. We rarely supplement their diet with anything other than minerals (kelp and salt). In the winter when the grass isn’t available, we feed hay. Good quality hay. Occasionally we’ll offer grain-finished beef, but you’ll always have a choice.
Our layers and broilers receive a non-medicated grain feed and live on clean grass and sunshine. They are not confined to a dirt lot. They’re happy and healthy and have a bright red comb to prove it.
I grew up on a farm in north Arkansas and have always wanted to farm on my own. We started in 2016 with weaned calves and had no idea what we were doing. Sometimes it’s better to start something doing it wrong than to not start at all. We made mistakes, and learned and made more mistakes and learned more. We still make mistakes, but we don’t quit just because we run into a problem, a problem we most likely caused.
We decided the feeder calf operation wasn’t what we wanted. Feeding grain and hay to calves in a 2-acre lot was not healthy for the calves and not healthy for our wallet. We leased some pasture and ran an ad to graze cattle for other farmers. Sometimes a farmer will have too many cattle and not enough grass or not enough manpower. It worked, and on January 1, 2017, we received our first herd of other farmers’ cattle. We were now grazing other people’s cattle on other people’s land. Credit to Greg Judy and his books No Risk Ranching and Comeback Farms.
Speaking of Greg and how his experience has helped us, rarely does a person become successful on their own. There’s always someone else that deserves credit. I don’t hesitate to ask for advice, to read an article or book by Joel Salatin, Kit Pharo, watch a YouTube video from Tim Thompson or Justin Rhodes. If you’re not studying then you’re most likely not growing. And that includes growing pains.
Joel says it’s better to start something and be doing it wrong than to never start at all.
In October 2019 we decided to stop selling live animals and strictly sell meat and eggs. We were processing our own cattle – that’s a chore! and our own cornish cross chickens. The USDA informed us we couldn’t sell our beef unless we processed it under their watchful eyes. Turns out we weren’t doing a good job processing it anyway. But yet again, it’s better to do something wrong than not do it, because in this case we never would have started selling professionally butchered beef had we not processed it ourselves, to begin with.
And that’s how we got to where we are today. We sell our GannFarmRaised beef, chicken, and eggs. And we started out doing it all wrong. We have slowly gone from chaos to profit.