At Fat of the Land Farm we started with dirt. When we, Andrea and Justin Hilborn, moved here in 2010 the previous owner harvested the crop of wheat and what remained was all ours. Looking out over acres of bare earth drove home the reality of the responsibility we were assuming. We hired our neighbours to plant the fields to the perennial pastures we have today and started our venture with a modest 30 meat chickens and 12 turkeys. Since then we have added pigs and cattle, with the occasional egg laying hens.
Building a farm from scratch has required us to be patient. As the flocks and herds have grown we have refined our systems and infrastructure to allow us to work with our animals in a low stress and enjoyable way. We take great pleasure in moving our cattle to fresh grazing everyday, watching the pigs root around in the forest, and seeing the chickens gobble up grass after moving their portable pens. We are pleased as well to see how our management impacts our land, with water being retained better in the soil, a larger variety of plant life in the fields, and greater diversity of wildlife such as salamanders and bobolinks. Perhaps most of all we enjoy the fruits of our labour. To be a part of the process of raising responsible, healthy meat is all the more enjoyable when it tastes great.
The path to where we are now was not always clearcut and obvious. We met as vegetarians who were intent to save the world and after travelling and visiting small farms one summer we gave up the vegetarianism. Still, we didn't dream of raising livestock. After raising those first turkeys and chickens we knew we had found our fit. Since then our beef and pork have grown to a scale so that we can effectively manage the land we’ve become responsible for. We've learned a lot of lessons along the way, most of them hard. Time and experience has made us realize that what we choose to put on our plate can have a great impact, and though our little farm isn't going to save the world we can make our little slice better than it was, raise animals in the best possible way, and provide people with good food.