Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Know Your Farmer - Becoming an Expert

It's baseball season again.  As a Kansas City area native, that's a pretty exciting thing, especially this year.  In case you've lived under a rock for the past five months, our mighty KC Royals won the World Series last year and that's something that has made opening day have a whole new meaning.

One of Our Little Royal's Fans
I was in the 5th grade the last time the Royals won the World Series.  On a scale of 1 to 10 for sports knowledge at that point in my life I was about a .001.  And my older brother might think that is being generous.  I loved George Brett and thought he should marry my aunt - because how cool would that be?  I knew you needed a baseball, a glove and a bat and that when the baseball hit you it really, really hurt.  Oh, and ghost runners.  You had to have ghost runners to play a real game of baseball.  Growing up on a farm, my brother and I always had a shortage of playmates.  Like it was just the two of us.  Being unathletic myself, this made sports for my brother not much of an option.  I was terrified of flying objects.  No exceptions.  One day he decided he was GOING to teach me to catch a baseball no matter what.  After watching me close my eyes, duck and then waiting for me to fetch the ball only to throw it back somewhat short of his glove, he developed a new teaching strategy.  Pain.  He thought if he threw it hard enough at me I would eventually figure it out.  We'll just call that experience a general epic fail and move along.  I still can't hardly catch a ball but I have great  memories of that fine day.

My husband, who I affectionately refer to as Farmer Chad, has taught me many things and has worked to overcome many of my foibles from childhood.  Including sports knowledge.  He has transformed me into a huge football fan, convinced me that March Madness is the best thing ever and, with a little help from a much-improved baseball team, completed the trifecta of sucking me in to baseball last season.  At one point last fall I found myself immersed in a conversation about baseball with someone, spouting facts and talking stats and  thought, "Holy Cow!  Is this even me?  I sound like (gasp), an EXPERT!"

Everyone in KC became a baseball expert last year.  I think we all found ourselves in conversations where we probably really didn't know exactly what we were saying but were comfortably using buzz words and statistics that we had heard from the sporting pundits.  We find ourselves in an age of experts.  With the increase of information at our fingertips through the Internet, TV, live streaming and the endless juicy morsels we all toss around like proven facts on various social media outlets truth gets a little bit blurred and sometimes we need to figure out who the real "experts" are.

We find ourselves, as farmers, in a place where we have to answer a lot of questions about our products.  What are they fed?  Where are they kept?  Are the chickens free-range?  Antibiotic free?  Hormone free?  Grass fed?  Grain fed?  We've worked to learn and understand the debates that rage about GMO's and medications, grain fed vs grass fed, etc.  Through our research we've learned one thing - it really is going to come down to personal preference.  I can site research to support any opinion or stance, for or against.  I also know that any facts I share most likely won't change anyone's mind.

The great part about our country is that there are customers for every business.  If you prefer organic, there are farmers that will do that.  If you prefer non-GMO, there are farmers that do that.  If price is your determining factor, there's Wal-mart for that.  What we can provide is that link to local.  You can come visit the farm.  You can ask questions about what the animals eat and about our animal health plans.

The Sheep Whisperer

 You can see how the animals live, check out their feed - heck, you can even feed them if you want!  Sweetly serenade them, brush them, tell them your life story - they like company and can keep secrets really well.  Instead of putting buzz words and labels on our food that might be misconstrued or interpreted in different ways, we prefer to allow you to come see it for yourself.
Piggy Love

King of the Hay Pile
We don't claim to be experts on everything, but we are experts on how our animals are raised and how food that comes from our farm is produced. I can tell you how I prefer to use different cuts of meat.  I can tell you how I hard boil an egg so that it will peel more easily.  I can tell you the difference between Berkshire pork and other pork that's available.  On these things we are experts and if we don't know an answer we will get it for you.  At the same time, we continue to learn, continue to research emerging trends and continue to be here for you to come and visit!  Our farm is always open and we really do love to talk about our farm and our animals - because, on this topic, we are EXPERTS.