Hello from Alden Hills! If you’re like me then you are pretty excited for today (its opening day for the Cubs if you aren’t a baseball fan… or worse a Cardinals fan).
I wanted to talk about something that came up a few times this month while talking with Farm customers. If you remember in one of my earlier posts I had talked about how the sustainable farming model is, at times, rooted in philosophy as much as science. What I mean by philosophy is that there are things that we do that come from a basis of “common sense” or “this is the right way to do things.” Now we have nutritional science to back us up on why a chicken is healthier when raised on pasture or cattle are allowed to freely graze in fresh grass but… is there science that says a “happy” chicken (or cow) is better for you? Not really. So why is the setting that our animals are raised in important? This is where sustainable farming becomes philosophical.
At Alden Hills we keep all of our animals outside (the only exception is freshly hatched chicks spend a couple weeks in warm brooding houses before they are ready for the great outdoors). Why do we farm in this model? After all you CAN be certified organic and produce a decent product in a factory farm prototype. We believe that we can produce a GREAT product by taking it to the next step and giving our animals fresh air and sunshine. It seems right to us that animals should be raised in the environment that they were designed for.
One intangible aspect of raising livestock is how they are handled. If you’ve ever seen videos of how a confinement farm handles their animals then you know what I am talking about… Dave, our livestock manager, is awesome at this. He is very patient and calm when dealing with our animals and whether it’s laying eggs or herding, animals do respond better when they trust their farmer. We believe that our methods of interacting with our animals is the right way to do it.
A more sobering side to this philosophy is how our animals are processed. When butchering time comes it is very important to us that our animals are in a stress-free environment and do not suffer. Part of our Organic certification is ensuring that our butcher uses the most humane treatment methods when the time comes. It is not always nice to think about this side of farming but it’s an important aspect of what we do. We put a lot of care in raising our animals and we don’t ever want to see our animals suffer.
At Alden Hills, we believe that the “how” is just as important as the “what” in farming. We believe that raising an animal “the right way” is a big part of our farming philosophy.
We always encourage farm tours, if you’re ever in the area we would love for you to stop by! We’re proud of the way we choose to raise our animals and we’d love to show you that as well.