We started into this sideways… or backward…? Half way through life as scientists and business owners, we took a look at what was happening to the food chain and it scared us.
Montana is a resources state, but we still didn’t know where our meat or greens came from.
What to do?
We came up with a grand plan-- the beginning of many years of trial and error, steep learning curves, and retrace-and-try-again moves.
We learned how to breed and butcher and cook heritage poultry.
We learned how to raise heritage sheep and goats in Montana weather, on Lake Missoula soils.
We acquired a small herd of American Aberdeen and Red Angus cattle.
Best of all, the kids had a blast growing up, and we do know where our food comes from!
The Visionary Workhorse
Actually, he does everything. The dogs call him Alpha Dude.
The Voice Of Reason
Tickler of sheep and mama to giant baby dogs.
The Indentured Servant
Always prepared for emergencies!
The Animal Whisperer
Never gives up on a critter who wants to live. She knows everyone's name!
The Sheep Wrangler
Extensive resume including: sheep jockey, flying lamb outfielder, general tussler.
It all began on Alice Lane, as we built out the land in our backyard to house a handful of chickens and a sheep or two.
The girls raised prize chickens and grew to love the sheep, so we added another pen. And another. And another.
In 2014, we were able to rescue a nearby 80-acre farm from immanent subdivision and put a conservation easement on it.
Open Reach Farm (named for its groundwater slough) is the center of our operations now. We raise grass-fed, grass-finished heritage animals for breeding stock, meat, and wool.
The United States has gone “vertically integrated” in every way we can think of.
Ranchers grow calves into steers and send them off to feedlots who sell them to processing plants who sell the meat to distributers or wholesalers… etc.
Animals that can withstand such treatment are huge, short-lived, dependent on grains, soy, antibiotics, de-wormers, and growth hormones. Yuck!
The key to growing meat on pasture and selling it locally is having the right genetics.
It is necessary to go back to heritage or near-heritage breeds.
They are typically smaller and grow slower, but they don’t need all those inputs that no one wants to eat. Just good water, grass and minerals are enough for animals with “grass” genetics.
Let’s just call them the “old normal” and say, “the new norm is the old norm”!!!
We have chosen our breeds to be hardy, good mothers, easy to raise on grass, and in the case of our sheep, producers of wondrous wool.
Most of our stock is sold to breeders, but the animals not up to par for that purpose are mighty tasty.