Lyon Ranch Farm Tour

We work hard and we own what we do. But nothing is permanent. We allow ourselves moments of pleasure and joy because our life is day to day and we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow
— Farmer's quote in "Killing It" by Camas Davis
View on the ranch

View on the ranch

I'm in the middle of reading Camas Davis' book, Killing It which is a memoir about her time as an apprentice in a family pig farm and butchery in the Gascon region of France. This book is an insight into another way of connecting the farmer to the meat consumer. In America, 97 percent of the pork we consume comes from factory farms. That's 97 percent of 100 million hogs. 

Pollen in the wind

The book is taking me back to the care in which the Lyon Ranch, our pork producer for Mountain Meat Shares, raises their pigs. Earlier this June, I had the opportunity to spend time with Roxie and Jason Davis at their ranch in Drummond, Montana. It had been a rough spring-- the flooding of the Clark Fork river changed the seasonal routine of this ranch that not only covers both sides of interstate 90, but encompasses a swath of the Clark Fork as well. The flooding kept Jason from his hay fields and kept Roxie from moving young pigs to the lower spring pasture. 

Roxie invited me for dinner that evening after we toured the various pastures that held the pigs. We talked goats, managing a milking schedule, the challenges of today's family cooking at home and the hard work involved with managing multiple enterprises on their farm. On our rambling tour, Roxie pointed out the confirmation features she believes make the best pigs for today's eating habits. Her favorite breed mix would be a Berkshire crossed with a Large Black. These are heritage breeds with a lot to offer when raised outside, moving around, exercising those lovely hams.

But managing a small herd for a demanding and erratic market is a challenge. A sow's litter may have 6 or 8 or 10 piglets, and finding the right market and the right stage of their growth is part of the art of small scale farming. Roxie is committed to a sustainable model that brings this family ranch into the future, and hopefully inspires the next generation to take her lead.

PorkJennifer Knoetgen