A Farm Conversation


We invite you to read our random thoughts as we continually learn and educate ourselves about how to be good stewards of our land, our river and our animals.  We invite you to share what you know and wonder with us as we travel this food journey and try to do all we can to raise meat animals with integrity and gratitude for the life they give us along with trying to rebuild our farm land organically.

Cancer now Coronavirus , but a renewed Sugar River Farm is operating to bring high quality food from, “Farm to Fork!”

It has been over a year since we have been on our website here at Sugar River Farm.  Honestly, at first we were just busy.  Rocky was running the farm full-time without anything but a little volunteer help occasionally.  Terri was teaching full-time, working on another graduate degree, and selling in 5 farmer’s markets.  Then Terri was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and our world stopped.  The farm had grown too big, and Rocky would suddenly need to be a full-time caretaker during the initial recovery, and part-time over the next couple of years.

Pigs are incredibly funny due to their natural inquisitive nature and high level of intelligence (yep, smarter than any dog you have ever seen!).  Well, that is Terri’s perspective and many of you know it was due to a pig that Sugar River Farm was born.  Rocky, on the other hand says pigs are too smart for their own good which makes them 10 times the work as any other beloved creature on the farm.  So, the pigs had to go when Terri got sick.

It was also good-bye to farmer’s markets.  Thank goodness LaBrioche switched from buying our ground pork to our fabulous grass fed ground beef.  Sadly, COVID-19 has closed LaBrioche.  But, about a year ago a fabulous little market and bistro opened in Evansville, WI.  The Grove Market LLCwas the birth of a dream for our daughter-in-law and her family.  Fast forward to now, during the pandemic crisis and while the bistro is temporarily closed, the market is open and flourishing!  You can purchase our fantastic dry-aged beef along with Bering Bounty fish, Grove Market quiches (made with SRF eggs!), soups and entrees, fresh mushrooms, local preserves & condiments and much more!

Check out The Grove Market LLC in Evansville, WI.  Check their website for current days and times of operation.  Groceries and meals available for curbside pick-up during social or physical distancing periods.  Call for more information:  608-882-1566  You can also message us through the our website and we can assist you with ordering for pick up at The Grove Market.

How Safe is the Beef You Eat?

How Safe is the Beef you Eat?  Click the link to read the full article from Consumer Reports.  Essentially, all beef has the potential to contain harmful bacteria so proper cooking methods are necessary.  However, know how and where your beef is raised can reduce your risk by 50% or more.   Grass-fed beef poses the lowest risk to humans consuming it as well as being better for the animals and the environment.

Why Pastured and Grassfed?

Raising animals on pasture is a step back in time so why do we do it?  Most if not all the meat, eggs, and dairy products that you find in the supermarket come from animals raised in confinement in large facilities (Factory Farms) called CAFOs or “Confined Animal Feeding Operations.”  Although the food appears to be cheap and convenient, there are hidden costs, including:

• Lower nutritional value in the food you eat including higher “bad” fats
• Air, land, and water pollution affecting not only those “farms” but the surrounding area
• The Use of hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs to keep the animals “healthy”
• The loss of small family farms
• Animal stress or even abuse

 Small farmers like us do not treat their livestock with hormones or feed them growth-promoting additives. As a result, the animals grow at a natural pace. For these reasons and more, grass-fed animals live low-stress lives and are so healthy there is no reason to treat them with antibiotics or other drugs.  The meat from animals raised like this is higher in Omega 3s and other healthy fats.  Beef that is 100% grassfed and finished like ours is more nutritious. A major benefit of raising animals on pasture is that their products are healthier for you. For example, compared with feedlot meat, meat from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,” orCLA.

The Art and Science of Grassfarming. Raising animals on pasture requires more knowledge and skill than sending them to a feedlot. For example, in order for grass-fed beef to be succulent and tender, the cattle need to forage on high-quality grasses and legumes, especially in the months prior to slaughter. Providing this nutritious and natural diet requires healthy soil and careful pasture management so that the plants are maintained at an optimal stage of growth. Because high-quality pasture is the key to high-quality animal products, many pasture-based ranchers refer to themselves as “grassfarmers” rather than “ranchers.”  They raise great grass; the animals do all the rest.

Unnatural Diets. Animals raised in factory farms are given diets designed to boost their productivity and lower costs. The main ingredients are genetically modified grain and soy that are kept at artificially low prices by government subsidies. To further cut costs, the feed may also contain “by-product feedstuff” such as municipal garbage, stale pastry, chicken feathers, and candy. Until 1997, U.S. cattle were also being fed meat that had been trimmed from other cattle, in effect turning herbivores into carnivores. This unnatural practice is believed to be the underlying cause of BSE or “mad cow disease.”

Animal Stress. A high-grain diet can cause physical problems for ruminants—cud-chewing animals such as cattle, dairy cows, goats, bison, and sheep. Ruminants are designed to eat fibrous grasses, plants, and shrubs—not starchy, low-fiber grain. When they are switched from pasture to grain, they can become afflicted with a number of disorders, including a common but painful condition called “subacute acidosis.” Cattle with subacute acidosis kick at their bellies, go off their feed, and eat dirt. To prevent more serious and sometimes fatal reactions, the animals are given chemical additives along with a constant, low-level dose of antibiotics. Some of these antibiotics are the same ones used in human medicine. When medications are overused in the feedlots, bacteria become resistant to them. When people become infected with these new, disease-resistant bacteria, there are fewer medications available to treat them.

Caged Pigs, Chickens, Ducks and Geese.  Most of the nation’s chickens, turkeys, and pigs are also being raised in confinement. Typically, they suffer an even worse fate than the grazing animals. Tightly packed into cages, sheds, or pens, they cannot practice their normal behaviors, such as rooting, grazing, and roosting. Laying hens are crowded into cages that are so small that there is not enough room for all of the birds to sit down at one time. An added insult is that they cannot escape the stench of their own manure. Meat and eggs from these animals are lower in a number of key vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Environmental Degradation. When animals are raised in feedlots or cages, they deposit large amounts of manure in a small amount of space. The manure must be collected and transported away from the area, an expensive proposition. To cut costs, it is dumped as close to the feedlot as possible. As a result, the surrounding soil is overloaded with nutrients, which can cause ground and water pollution. When animals are raised outdoors on pasture, their manure is spread over a wide area of land, making it a welcome source of organic fertilizer, not a “waste management problem.” Read more about the environmental differences between factory farming and grass-based production.

The Healthiest Choice. When you choose to eat meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals raised on pasture, you are improving the welfare of the animals, helping to put an end to environmental degradation, helping small-scale ranchers and farmers make a living from the land, helping to sustain rural communities, and giving your family the healthiest possible food. It’s a win-win-win-win situation.

Most of this information is taken directly from Jo Robinson at Eat Wild click the link to find out more.