Life On The Farm



Now that we're starting an all new barbecuing season, we thought you might want to review some GRASS-FED BEEF Barbecuing Tips...


For some silly reason, it has become fashionable for conventional chefs to recommend searing the meat first, then moving over to medium temperature. The justification of this practice comes from the idea of "sealing" in fatty juices, which sounds appealing, but really doesn't help the tenderness of the meat. We have spoken with several "Celebrity Chefs" about how they receive their best BBQ results, and they have clearly, painfully explained... "Oh no, Don't Sear First."


We get so relieved and express, "Well that's what we've been saying for years. How come others are telling people to sear it first?" And then these professional chefs tell us, "Because everyone's in a hurry and it's what they want to hear." 

We have completed many barbecue tests over the last ten years using lean steaks that have been cut from the same loin (next to each other). We have barbecued them side by side on the same grill, searing one first, while slow cooking the other. And every time we have conducted this test, the slow cooked meat comes out more tender and more tasty. So for your barbecuing enjoyment, we're providing you the following proven method of how to get the best barbecue results with our 100% Grass-Fed and Grass-Finished, All-Natural, Healthy Beef... 

STEP 1: Thaw out beef in vacuum-sealed package, then remove from package and rinse with room-temperature water and place beef on platter or in marinading zip-lock until grilling time.

STEP 2: Let the beef come to room temperature before placing on grill.

STEP 3: With gas barbecue, set to low temperature and cover lid to warm up grill. Clean off grilling surface, then place meat first on the lowest temperature of the grill and close the lid so the meat will basically just warm up during the first ten minutes of grill time. (For charcoal grilling, start coals on one side and place beef on the other.)

STEP 4: Open lid and move beef onto a warmer part of the grill (now over low flames) for about five minutes per side, depending on grill temperature and thickness of meat.

STEP 5: If this is your first or second time trying this method, then cut a small sample of beef right on the grill to check how it's doing - and try it. By the way, sometimes we never make it back in the house with any meat left.


STEP 6 - ADVANCED GRILLING: Sear at the end - just make sure not to overcook it. That's why we have you stop at Step 5 for the first few times. As long as the beef is still rare (almost raw) - once it has come up to temperature, you can sear it at the end to get the outside crispy without compromising its tenderness.

STEP 7 - Get as many happy people as possible all around you to enjoy your Grass-Fed Beef feast... YAY!!!


For more cooking suggestions, and some family friendly farms' recipes, you're welcome to click on this link of our website:

We sure appreciate all of your support and encouragement over the years, so we hope these barbecuing tips will help you to continue enjoying our Family Friendly Farms all-natural, pasture-raised meats for years to come.

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The Art of Sustainable Living

The Art of Sustainable Living

Sustainable farming is defined as a farming operation that maintains a self-reliant ecosystem thus minimizing the need to “go outside” the farm to purchase items that it may lack (like fertilizer and feed for example).

As we’ve been developing a sustainable farming operation called Family Friendly Farms, we’ve also been developing a sustainable family lifestyle here at Our Lady’s Ranch. Over the years, we have been creating a holistic family environment suitable to living in peace and to sharing it with others.


In this self-reliant ecosystem called Our Lady’s Ranch, we strive to utilize the farm and its related activities to balance the four essential needs of our humanity which include the spiritual, intellectual, physical, and emotional components of our lives.

We have found that Family Friendly Farms provides many opportunities to live a balanced, sustainable life by including activities of praying, learning, working, and socializing together right here at home without having to “go outside” to meet our needs elsewhere.

And this fulfilling, peaceful, agrarian family lifestyle is what we call –

The Art of Sustainable Living... 


We sustain our Spiritual Needs by making prayer a special part of every day by intentionally stopping various times throughout each day in order to thank God for all His many blessings, while asking Him to help us with the many that we still need.


We sustain our Intellectual Needs by homeschooling our children in order to make learning an important part of every day for the kids, while making "life-long" learning a priority for the entire family.


We sustain our Physical Needs by considering work a gift from God to help us bond together with common goals, while receiving a wonderful satisfaction upon completing them, along with a healthy work-out to boot.


The farming work we do together has been instrumental in helping the kids mature in many skills at relatively young ages. They have learned to communicate with all ages of people in a variety of social settings, while learning many practical skills including articulating their thoughts, making formal presentations, cooking a variety of cultural foods, and building several types of landscaping and construction projects, just to name a few.


We sustain our Emotional Lives by receiving visitors here, sometimes engaging with them in farm tour discussions along with other social activities. We really enjoy watching the parents show their children the wonders of God's creation. And in this way we get a chance to not only live in peace ourselves, but to share it with all of you :)

We hope that you have enjoyed this little glimpse into our simple way of living in God's peace as he continues to help us grow in... The Art of Sustainable Living.

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Well, around here, the Chickens come first. And here they are at two days old, just newly arrived from the hatchery. Can you guess how they arrive? Would you believe... Airmail!!! That's right - funny huh? The Good Ol' US of A Post Office allows them to be airmailed in special boxes like the one that Michael's holding here in the photo above.


The baby chicks spend their first month here in our cardboard insulated, sawdust floored, Heat Lamped Brooder. This little enclosure uses a hinged lid that operates like a horizontal door that stays open when we add bedding, food, and water. We also have another roof with windbreaker sides to insure they stay warm and dry.


After their brooder beginnings, we move them to a protected pasture. In this photo the young hens are seen foraging on grass and grubs, while still being supplemented with our special corn-free, soy-free, non-GMO grains. We keep them here for a few more months until they're ready to join the older birds on larger pastures.



These are fully mature laying hens that are now producing full-sized eggs for us while fertilizing the pasture. Chickens produce the highest known natural nitrogen source on the planet. They also de-infest the pastures of any grass-damaging crickets or parasites. It's an amazing system of cleaning and fertilizing which is natural, ecological, and extremely economical, while producing a healthy bi-product for our own nutrition and sustenance - their eggs!!!


Now being that Chickens are at the low end of the food chain, we can't just leave them out at night, so we give them a coop to nest in, where they can also roost in at night for their protection. This is a special coop because it has external flip-out doors for easy egg collecting (without having to go inside) and because it is built with four wheels so that we can move it around each pasture in order to keep spreading the fertilizer from one place to the next.

That's Michael on the ATV pulling the "Egg-Mobile" a few lengths forward. (He asked if we could soup up the coop with a 454 Hot Rod Motor and steering wheel, but that idea hasn't gotten built yet).



Mariana does most of the egg collecting around here and actually, of all the work that I've done here in the last seventeen years, my favorite job is (by far) collecting eggs with Nina (Special Time).



Then inside we go to wash the eggs. No conveyor belt here. Just a little water with a sponge does a fine job and keeps everything natural and pure.



Next we take turns weighing and packaging the eggs. By the way - if you've ever wondered what makes the difference between a medium, large, and extra-large egg... it's not the physical size, but the weight of the egg that matters. Another interesting fact is the refrigerator-shelf life of these eggs is over two months. They are handled so naturally and simply without distributor and shipping delays that our customers usually receive them within a few days of collecting and packing. It's nice for us to offer you the real meaning of Free-Range, Fresh Eggs :)

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This year's abundant rain gave us a few extra challenges, but it sure has made some naturally beautiful living portraits...


This photo captures the little creek that flows through our produce garden and orchard.


Here's a little spring that we discovered, that reminds us of God's kind words to all of us... "If you ask, I will become in you a spring of living water, welling up to eternal life."



And the little spring grows into a rivulet, which then joins other waters in order to create...


Waterfalls of love. And after the love moves along, the living water once again harmonizes with its natural environment to form...



An oasis of Peace :)


Then we little children get to enjoy God's amazing creation while we go about our family friendly farming work here at Our Lady's Ranch, nourished by God's Living Water.

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First, gather together as many cute kids as you can find.

Second, cut the base of the tree without showing the kids, so they can think you're the strongest dad in the whole world.

Third, eat your Wheaties.

Fourth, grit your teeth and push as hard as you can.


Fifth, everyone play around on the organic jungle-gym for a little while. 


Sixth, make sure to have at least one big kid to help with the heavy lifting.


Seventh, get some cool man-toys around for photographic props... Well, they also help when it comes to transporting the logs back down the hill. 


Eighth, include the kids in everything you do... and pay them for their work in praise, thankfulness, and a little cash to boot.


Ninth, enjoy the fruits of your labor with some special family time, and... 

Tenth, remember to thank God for His incredible generosity toward each of His wonderful creations, especially the ones closest to you.

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During this time of year, it's important for us to keep the cows on fresh grass, and we have to move them often because they eat so much of it. 

We're continuously searching and finding more grass for them, and sometimes searching and finding the cows themselves. This time, we found them enjoying the view from this beautiful hilltop next to the farm. 

Here we are bringing them back down the hill with a bale of Alfalfa in the back of the ATV for incentive. With cows, we either have to pull them or push them to put them where we want them. So we first pull them as far as we can (Because it's usually easier that way) until they get out of line, and then we have to start pushing them. We pull them with a cattle "call" and some sweet feed, and we push them by walking toward them to lightly apply "pressure" for them to move.

Last month, the cows were feasting on neighboring pastures, so we needed to bring them back onto Our Lady's Ranch by moving them down the road and through the front gates. "Easier said than done"...

As soon as we got them through the gates, they saw fresh grass and took off running for it. Aaauugh!!! "All hands on deck!" Fortunately, there were enough of us to move them back in line to continue the march further down the road into the pasture we wanted for them. 

All the kids have learned how to push a cow along by staying behind its front shoulder. When you get in front of its shoulder it will start to turn or go backwards. Cows are so much easier to move than sheep because you can pretty well steer them around with that shoulder technique. But with sheep, you have to pretend that you want them to go in the opposite direction, because they will always go where you don't want them to go. 

Next was a tight squeeze between two fences where they tried to break ranks again. Thankfully, we're slightly smarter than the cows (sometimes) so we anticipated their move and got to the right place at the right time - to thwart their maneuver (that's maneuver, not manure). 

Aaaahhh - Back to Our Lady's Ranch with fresh new grass and peaceful streams. "You lead me beside restful waters"... for the cows and us!!!

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We thought you might be interested to know what it's like to have this much wind and rain on a farm...

It could have been a catastrophe with the animals, but with all the kids helping, we managed to rescue them, one group at a time...

This aint no duc' tape weather!!! If it wasn't hinged, staked, or bolted down, then it's no longer here. The layer hens did fine in their egg mobile, but the meat chickens had another story. They were all cozy in the Greenhouse for a few days... until the cover blew away --- oooooh no! But we got there in time to move the birds to a secure location.

Moving the birds turned out to be the best part of the storm for Joseph, because he got a chance to practice his 4-wheel driving skills. Actually, I was still putting my boots on when I saw him down by the creek and thought, "I hope he's not planning on driving through that!" Well, he sure was, and by the time I got there, he'd already been back and forth a few times. I just had to laugh and then reflect on my own youth thinking, "Funny, I wonder who he got that from."

The little pigs needed extra bedding in their hutch. They lay down next to one another (and even on top of each other) to keep warm. The main idea is to help them with a dry space, then nature works it out from there. The big pigs carry enough fat on them to weather any storm, and they usually stay under trees for cover, so they were all okay. 

The cows are big enough to handle pretty much anything - except maybe lightning. Here they are coming up to us in their current pasture. We called them in to look them over... all present and accounted for!!! 

So we've got some clean-up to do, but all in all we seemed to have weathered the storm pretty well. It presented a good opportunity to react together in a semi-emergency situation. The kids fell right into our family hierarchy of leadership (with obedience and respect to one another) as the various dangers were systematically calmed.

All has ended with reflection, stimulating conversation, and peace... Another bonding experience for us in "Life on the Farm."

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Well - we started with 10 picnic tables, 8 hoses, 6 extension cords, 4 bottles of propane, 2 furnaces, 1 water trough, a large scale, and 86 Live Turkeys -

We finished with................. lots of cleaning to do!!!

Actually, we'll be finishing with 86 very happy families enjoying 86 very healthy, tasty Turkeys on Thanksgiving/Christmas Day this year.

And here's how the day began...

We like to start our group events around here at Our Lady's Ranch with a little prayer. So here we are praying together, asking for a successful harvest, while the Turkeys in the Trailer (left side) were praying for the opposite :)



And the work begins...That's our good friend Larry Lane on the left standing next to Michael and Mariana. Larry's a federal trapper who helps us keep predators minimized at the Ranch. He's the best!!! And each year he brings 5 or 6 young men to come out and help us with the Turkeys. It's a wonderful day for all of us, and his friends quickly become our friends too. Most of them return each year for this day of good food, good friends, and good fellowship. 

The young men on the right are at the plucking machine, there are several people in the trailer doing the heavier cleaning, and that's Christia and Ali in the back packaging the finished product.


Here's a closer look at the packaging process. Ali's selecting the appropriate sized bag to receive the finished Turkey, which then gets dunked into a hot cauldron to shrink the bag tight around it. Then its placed onto the scale where Christia labels it before placing it in the refrigerator to chill for three days prior to freezing.

 Most of the Turkeys this year went from 15 lbs to 25 lbs in size with a new farm record of "El Grande" this year weighing in at 40.9 lbs :)



Hurray - Lunch time!!!

After Christia suggested making breakfast burritos with eggs and sausage, I asked her to double up on the Family Friendly Farms Country Sausage... That was the least we could do for this high energy team.


The day just wasn't long enough, so we worked into the night... That's Christia still packing - still smiling. She's a trooper... She's 16 years old, which means that I've had the privilege of working with her for over 12 years now. I've never yet seen her back away from a challenge and she's always the last one to call it quits - a real leader... You go girl!!!



It got a little chilly outside that night, but nothing that a little hot chocolate and a big fire wouldn't cure. A job well done with a rest well deserved!!!

And now? . . .   Let's Eat!!!

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Poultry Birdhouse


Another fun project for the kids and I… this time in the Garden area where we worked over the top of a planted area to erect a Winter home for our Freedom Ranger Meat Chickens. These are no ordinary birds, so they’re getting an extra-ordinary home.

We started with the foundation and framework by using 1-1/4” pvc pipe that we painted for solar protection and connected with 2 x 4 pressure-treated lumber. Those are 30 foot lengths of pipe that are spaced every 3 feet apart to make a 20’ wide by 60’ long house. We also put a 42” high wire fabric all around the edges to keep out any critters that seem to enjoy dining on the chickens as much as we do. This wire extends a few inches underground as well to inhibit the curious diggers.
Our next building step is to roll the Greenhouse fabric up on the edges to then pull it over the top of the framework, but it just so happened that the 9:30 bells rang to call us into a little break for prayer.  That turned out to be an important part of this project, because were about to need all the help we could get.
So here we are rolling up the fabric edge over a 64 foot long piece of 1” pvc pipe. We were going to glue the edge of the fabric to the pipe (which failed miserably), but changed over to using screws at every 18” along the pipe to fasten the fabric to it. The other side of the fabric will receive the same treatment with the pipe you can see laying there in the photo above. These pipes provide several practical functions which include the ability to roll the finished sides of the Greenhouse up and down. We roll up the sides during the day to receive the necessary ventilation, while closing up the sides at night and on rainy days to allow for a dry, warm climate inside the greenhouse when its cold or wet outside. The chickens are allowed to roam around and graze outside most of the time, while being offered a cozy home and sleeping area during inclement weather and/or cold nights.
Now for the big moment - Pulling the translucent fabric over the frame… This took all hands on deck as you can see. And good thing for those prayers, because we needed to stretch a fabric length of 60’ over a frame of 60’. That sounds correct, but actually we needed the fabric to be quite a bit longer in order to wrap the fabric around the end pieces of the frame to clamp it into place. That wouldn’t have been so difficult except that this fabric is a custom ordered, single piece of material that was shipped out to us from the East Coast and could not be lengthened. Well, I discovered the problem earlier but just continued along thinking that we’d have to figure something out when we got to it - and now we got to it… So how in the world were we going to fasten this giant, single piece of fabric to the ends of the frame?

As it turns out, the good folks who shipped us the material cut it a little long (Just in Case) - 60’-3” to be exact. But that still was oh - so close, but just not long enough… but before abandoning all hope, we then discovered that the frame length was just under the 60‘ length by 2 inches. So that gave us a total of 5 extra inches which turned out to be the perfect length for us to wrap the end-wall of the framework and clamp it to the fabric without even having to cut the fringe off the edge of the fabric. Wow!!! Okay - luck, karma, divine providence - you’re welcome to attach whatever name to that gift that you like, but for me…a sigh of relief along with a humble thank you seemed quite appropriate at the time.
And here we are all done with the new Greenhouse/Birdhouse. You can now get a good look at the rolled up sides allowing daytime ventilation for the chickens. Also interesting are the end-walls which received a separate piece of the special fabric, tucked under the top piece and clamped to the same end wall pvc framework so the rainwater will gracefully flow over the fabric, keeping everything clean and dry inside.

We built the greenhouse over an actual part of our garden, so you can see some greenery on the floor in the back area. These are summer squash and pumpkin plants that now provide organic veggies to the chickens while they’re inside, and they get grass and crickets around the garden when they’re outside. Another good example of working with the laws of nature to increase production while minimizing the need for chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
Family Farm Freedom, Freshness, and Flavor -
That's what we're going for here... Amen! 

Sent with Blessings and Peace from all of us to all of you, 
The Zeiter Family - Phil, Alicia, Ty, Zach, Tia, Ali, Joe, Mikee, and Nina -
Your Family Friendly Farmers
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A Day At The Farm

A Day At The Farm

Mariana is our youngest at nine years old and this year she became in charge of the laying hens and egg production.  Here she is collecting eggs from a specially designed coop that is kid friendly because we can get the eggs from the outside without walking in the coop itself.  The next step is for Mariana to wash and dry and weigh each egg, then place them into cartons of correct size, then label each carton.  It sounds like a lot of time, but she can wash and package 10 dozen eggs within an hour or so - not bad for a little whippersnapper.





Care for the chickens
Michael is eleven years old and in charge of the Chicken Brooder where we start the Meat Chickens and Turkeys in a warm/safe environment before moving them out to the pastures.  These young chickens (Pullets) in the photo are about three weeks old and will be heading out to the pastures later today where they'll be eating all natural forage, bugs, and crickets.  Michael will be in charge of organizing the move, so he'll be catching these birds and supervising his older siblings on this operation.
Chicken Tractors
Once the Meat Birds are out on Pasture, we shelter them in these portable units called "Chicken Tractors." We let the Chickens out each morning and close them back in each night to protect them from predators. Here's Christia (15 years old) moving the tractors one length (each day) in order to spread the nitrogen fertilizer of the Chickens around the Pasture.  After a season, we'll run the cows on this same pasture that has been naturally fertilized and cleaned of all pathogens by the hungry Chicken Cleaners - a good example of one of the many symbiotic relationships between the animals in this natural ecosystem here at Our Lady's Ranch.
Pasture Management
Here's Zachary (17 years old) fixing an electric fence to keep our curious little milking cows in a spot where we want them to stay. Zachary's been working outside with us on the Ranch since he could walk and started driving at age 13 with not only cars, but tractors and equipment of all kinds. Needless to say, he's the Ranch Manager and has developed a wide variety of knowledge and skills in everything from animal husbandry to pasture optimization to building maintenance, so he keeps our operations running smoothly.
Pasture Irragation
Here's Joseph (Age 12) with many responsibilities at the ranch, not the least of which is the pasture irrigation. Twice a day, Joseph zips around on the Quad and checks the watering system while closing and opening new gates along the pipes to move the water around the pastures in sets. We run two sets at a time in order to get fresh Sierra snow-melted water to each stretch of pasture on a weekly basis.  We maintain deep-rooted, native, perennial grass plants on our pastures, so they receive a deep watering on a weekly cycle.
Pasture Raised Turkeys
Here's Happy Ali (14 years old) getting in on the Turkey action - checking on their water supply and getting ready to close them into their coop for the night.  Turkeys naturally roost on tree branches, so here you can see one of our Turkey shelters that is equipped with roosting rails inside for the Turkeys to fly up and set on for their cozy protected sleep area. Nature accounts for many Turkey offspring because many of them get eaten by predators in their tree roosts, but we can't afford to loose them to predators, so we close them up at night and let them back out in the morning to wander and forage while fertilizing and cleaning the pastures like the Chickens.

Family Friendly Farm OnlineWell, we just wouldn't be complete without Ty (19 years old) who keeps us online and connected to you all.  She's had the hardest job of all (Teaching her parents how to work on a computer). She'll be sending out this Newsletter shortly, along with cooking up a storm at the local Farmer's Market
this Saturday.








Well, there you have it - A day of Farming Operations here at Our Lady's Ranch. Thank you all for your continuing encouragement and support.

Blessings and Peace to you,

The Zeiter Family
Family Friendly Farms
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Moving The Turkeys

Moving The Turkeys

This week at Our Lady's Ranch we started preparing for Thanksgiving by moving some turkeys from their small starter home to their new grand estate...

Turkey Coop

We recently completed their new mobile coop (notice the wheels) in order to move them from pasture to pasture, naturally fertilizing the grass to keep it healthy for them and the other grazing animals. 

Next, we moved the turkeys from their brooder to the new coop. Mikee (on the left) and Jo-Jo (on the right) coordinated the effort! 

Then came the big move! With Jo-Jo on the tractor, we carefully transported the turkeys over the creek to their new home. 

We placed the coop in a luscious green pasture right next to another mobile coop of turkeys who began this transition a few months ago. Growing several ages of turkeys yields a variety of sizes for you to choose from. (If you look at the photo real close, you can see some of our pigs in the background coming to say 'hi' to their new neighbors!)

The turkeys will spend the next several months foraging on this pasture and basking in the California sunshine. 

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Healthy Environment + Healthy Animals = Healthy Happy People!

Healthy Environment + Healthy Animals = Healthy Happy People!

Hi Everyone - 

Just thought we'd share with you the way we provide healthy meat for you...

It all begins with cleanliness - Clean air from the pacific breeze, clean water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, clean pastures with chemical-free forage, and clean animals free of any added hormones, antibiotics, corn, soy, or GMO’s.


After cleanliness, the next most important ingredient to raising healthy animals is fresh, nutrient dense natural forage. We utilize a system of livestock rotation to control the animal’s grazing patterns in order to increase the nutrient rich grasses while decreasing the undesirable ones. Moving the various animals across segregated pastures called paddocks (separated by fencing) creates many positive benefits for the forage quality, animal health, and environment.  

The cows are allowed to graze first, moving across the paddock, naturally eating the top two-thirds of the grass plants while trampling a portion of it, which is necessary to add to the top-soil of the pastures (mimicking the natural paths of the buffalo that came before them). After a full day of heartily munching grass and chewing their cuds (Digesting the forage in the rumen of their four-part ruminant stomach, which is designed to process grass, not grain) the cows are moved to a  fresh paddock to continue their diet of clean, fresh forage. 


Then Chickens and Turkeys are moved onto the grass that has been clipped to poultry friendly height that they can enjoy along with the grasshoppers and insects that have been exposed by the cows before them. They provide an organic benefit to the pastures, which is the spreading of their own waste product, which just so happens to be the best nitrogen rich fertilizer available on the planet. The collectible bi-product of this co-habitation are the most natural, pure, and healthy chicken eggs available anywhere. The creamy whites and dark-orange yokes look richer, taste better, and contain one half the cholesterol of industrial grown eggs, while sustaining a healthy environment for all of us.


The pigs come next grunting and snorting and getting into everything, especially the acorns… yum!  The pigs rotate pastures more on an annual basis than a daily or weekly one like the cows and chickens, but they nonetheless provide an equally important function to this natural ecosystem including aerating the pastures and removing the larger bugs.


Then come the sheep… our weed-whacking department.  Sheep like grasses that are more fibrous (the ones that are undesirable for the cows), so that makes for a nice complimentary diet. They roam around the pastures converting all the weeds into tasty-tender meat.


These rotational grazing practices allow the natural foraging habits of these animals as originally intended by our Creator. They provide the animals with a low-stress environment that allows them to grow at the normal pace they have been accustomed to over the centuries. The results are not only a much more healthy product, but a much more tasty meat that is packed with nutrients, as God originally intended for us.

Here's to Healthy, Happy Living from all of us to all of you! 

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