I (Amanda) grew up in Manhattan and never paid attention to where my food came from or its true cost. I spent my entire adult life the same way. Working with dairy farmers changed my point of view. I came to appreciate the challenges and beauty of working with livestock. I began to learn about animal husbandry (breeding of animals) and the importance of genetic diversity in agriculture. Okay, this might be where I lose you and if I do, that's okay! Buuut, if I could ask you to take away one thing from glancing at our site or this post it would be:
When you buy meat from the store (even if it's organic), modern large scale agriculture has specifically selected animal breeds for intensive production including rapid growth, feed efficiency, continuous milk or egg production, or other targeted production characteristics. These animals aren't selected to live a fulfilling life on this earth.
At Table Mountain Farm, we are investing in animals called Heritage Breeds. These animals roamed the pastures of America’s pastoral landscape, the animals you’d find on your great-grandparents farms. They were bred over time to develop traits that made them suited to specific local environments. They tend to have better disease resistance, are well-adapted to their environments, and thrive in pasture-based settings. Heritage breeds store a wealth of genetic resources that are important for our future and the future of our agricultural food system, but they are at risk of becoming endangered or extinct. Our farm purposefully selects these animals to flourish on our land, breed and contribute to our local food source.
Have you herd of people saving seeds seeds to preserve heirloom plants? Well, we are passionate about storing a wealth of genetic resources in our animals.
It is important to us that every animal lives a fulfilling life on this earth. Chickens were designed to scratch in the grass, find bugs and take dust baths; so that is what they do in our fields. Our goats feast on pastures of diverse local grasses with weeds and flowers, as they were built to do.
I have come to realize why I don't meet many farmers who work with animals. It is a never ending job, regardless of what season we're in, the goats need to be milked and the chickens fed. I am a very relational person and interacting with all of these personalities throughout my day brings me tremendous joy. Some mornings all of the clamoring for attention and needs can be overwhelming, but at the end of the day (as I write this now) I feel such relief knowing their lives are in my care and that their full life has great purpose. Purpose in who they are, in what they contribute to our land, and in what they will provide to our community.
Some animals are here to produce milk or eggs and will live out their natural life on our land, while others are chosen for meat. Taking the life of a living, breathing, fully functional and relational animal is exceptionally difficult. We take no pleasure in the process. However, our family and many in our community eat meat We have tasked our farm with selecting animals with genetic diversity who will continue to breed here and we give them the best life we can before taking their life. If our family and community are going to eat meat, I will rest better knowing some of those animals came from our farm where we loved, nourished and honored the full life of that animal.
Thank you for your time.