1st Generation Family Farm
Remember Little House on the Prairie? Some days I feel like Ma Ingalls (but please know I'm NOT giving up indoor plumbing, electricity or the internet!). My brother tells me he feels like he goes back in time when he visits us because when he goes into my pantry he finds jars of homemade bone broth, rendered lard, homemade jellies and pickles, etc. Oh, and don't forget all the grains for fresh ground flour! I'm kind of a "homemade" junkie, nothing like making supper and knowing that you raised or grew ALL of it!
I don't know what the Ingalls would have called their farm but our farm got its name for a couple of reasons. Judi grew up on a farm in North Dakota but had been away from it for quite some time. Josh grew up in Park Rapids and had been working in North Dakota. When we decided to move to Park Rapids full time, for Judi it was like coming back home to a farm and for Josh it literally was coming back home. Enter the name "Back Home Farms". :-)
ABOUT BACK HOME FARMS
As you many have already heard, we started Back Home Farms with a Saturday trip to the Winger livestock auction. We came home with three baby pigs in the back of our pickup under a large water tub. We set them up in our garage so we could keep close eye on them and before we knew it we were hooked and knew that we wanted to share our new found love with those around us.
The first few years we had the farm were a bit of trial and error as we learned which breeds and animals we wanted to include on our farm. We had our pigs of course, tried some goats (won't do that again..LOL), added some chickens and then raised a couple Jersey bulls for our own meat.
Two years into farming we moved....and by moved I mean we moved the ENTIRE farm! Pig huts, chicken coop, animals and all! Our move gave us the opportunity to expand and grow.
Once we got settled in the new place (our home now) we decided to focus our pork production on using Purebred Berkshire boars with a variety of purebred and crossbred sows. We found an excellent source for boars where they are tested and known for their excellent meat quality.
From there we found Niman Ranch. Niman Ranch is a network of U.S. family farmers and ranchers who raise livestock, humanely and sustainably. Raising pork for Niman Ranch means that all animals are raised outdoors or in deeply bedded pens and that we do not use any farrowing crates, our sows farrow in open pens. It also means that we feed a 100% vegetarian diet.
So, while growing our production was important to us we were not willing to give up quality for quantity. We strive to raise the tastiest and most healthy meat that we can. If we wouldn't feed it to our own family, then we are not going to offer it to you. That being said, we are very proud to say that in 2017 Niman Ranch ranked us 5th out of 300+ farmers for meat quality for our pork!
Along with our hogs, we also raise beef cattle, chickens and sheep. We love to garden and are sometimes known to "overdo" our garden. What we don't can or freeze for our own family, we love to share with folks at the farmer's market! Our produce offerings vary based on what is in season. Some of the things folks watch for from us are our basil pesto, raspberry or strawberry jalapeno jelly, beets, candied jalapenos, dilly green beans and also a few herbs and peppers!
So that is a bit about us and how we got to where we are today. We are very glad you took the time to read a bit about us and look forward to serving you some great home grown meat in the future. We love to talk about our animals and products (ok, I just love to talk!) so please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have!
Know your Farmer, Know your Food!
Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore, the claim "no hormones added" cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones."
A little more about our animals...
We breed and raise Berkshire pigs along with our cattle, sheep, and chickens. With our pigs we run mostly a "farrow to finish" operation but we do also sell weaner pigs (6-7 weeks old). We do not use crates, our sows farrow in large open pens where they make their own nests for their babies. No routine antibiotics are ever given to any of our animals. The pigs we "finish" are for our customers at the Farmer's Market and also for our half and whole hog purchase customers. It takes 7-8 months for a pig to get to butcher weight.
We also have a herd of beef cattle that we raise for breeding, meat production and just because Josh loves cows! We have Black Angus bulls we use for natural breeding. Gestation length ranges from 279 to 287 days. Once a calf is born it typically takes 18 months before that calf is at butcher weight and ready to feed your family. You can see that raising cattle is a long term commitment!
Our cattle are fed a combination of grass, hay and grain. The grain helps add additional marbling to the meat. We do not use any hormones in our cattle production. We have mostly Black and Red Angus along with a couple of Hereford cows.
Our sheep flock is made up of purebred PolyPay sheep. The PolyPay breed is a cross of four breeds.
Finnsheep with its high prolificacy, early puberty and short gestation;
combined with outstanding strains of productive widely adapted, hardy Rambouillets;
Targhees with superior fleece quality, large body size and long breeding season; and
Dorsets with superior mothering ability, carcass quality, early puberty and long breeding season provided the gene pool needed to develop a more versatile, productive sheep.