My connection to food and the animals that nourish us started in my childhood in upstate New York. My Slovenian immigrant grandparents lived just up the road and they raised dairy cows, pigs and chickens. This provided our families with milk, butter and meat, as well as fruit and vegetables all grown at the farm. It was there that I learned the deep sense of satisfaction from caring for animals. While that care surely contributed to an adult sense of responsibility, it also fostered the idea that animals should only be owned if one could care for them in the best way possible. And that farm animals, while their ultimate fate might well be your table, should live their lives peacefully, with their needs met, and their days spent outdoors as much as possible.

 Jen at a pig butchering class 

Jen at a pig butchering class 

This philosophy has driven us to raise all of the meat Micah and I eat at our home and to once again feel the satisfaction of quality animal husbandry. We call our homestead here in Arlee Rusty Nail Farm, and we have raised broiler and laying chickens, pigs and a number of meat animals along the way. Some are raised seasonally each year and some were one-time trials to see what fit our needs and our lives. Each animal brings its own set of challenges. None of it has been easy, but all of the experiences have been worthwhile. From my childhood participation in plucking chickens to my goat escapades of today, I recognize the great efforts and sacrifices farmers make to bring quality, respectfully raised animals to our tables.

Friends and visitors to our farm have asked countless times—“How can you eat these animals once you have raised them?” The question confounds me, since the alternative could mean eating meat that you know nothing about. The horrors of industrial confinement meat operations are no secret. The impact to the animals, the workers, the environment and our health is known. Choosing, and it is a choice, to eat meat comes with a responsibility to know how the animals are raised.

My mission in creating Mountain Meat Shares is to source meat from local farms that I have visited, from farmers I have interviewed that raise animals to my standards—meat I would eat.  I will then work with local processors to create a finished product that you can enjoy each month.

 
 
 Way back... way, way back. Jen and her brother taming the pigs on their grandparents' farm

Way back... way, way back. Jen and her brother taming the pigs on their grandparents' farm