Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you started farming?
My wife and I both grew up in St. Louis County, but I knew I wanted to venture out to the country and get away from the busy atmosphere of the county. I have always worked for my parents at their restaurant, Clancy's Irish Pub and Grill, and wanted to start my own restaurant. My parents went to pick up a turkey from a farm in Rosebud, Missouri in November of 2005 and noticed a restaurant for sale. Less than 6 months later, I took over that business and moved from Washington, Missouri to Rosebud and bought a small farm with an old farmhouse and 9 acres. My wife and I married in 2007 and worked in our restaurant, also Clancy's Irish Pub and Grill, and decided we wanted to eat more sustainable and local food. And after having a baby in 2009, we decided that eating food that we know how it was raised is what we wanted for our growing family. So we started with a small garden, which eventually got bigger after we had a second child in 2012 and a third in 2014. Somewhere in between there, we started to raise Cornish Cross birds for meat. We initially used the birds for us, but eventually started selling them in the meat market that my parents opened in Rosebud and to some other restaurants looking for local meat.
Briefly describe what you produce.
We currently raise Cornish Cross chickens and are starting to get into pasture-raised pork. We also have a garden which produces heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, herbs, asparagus, onions, garlic, and much more depending on the season.
Could you tell us a bit about your farming methods?
When we raise the Cornish Cross chickens we only raise 50 at a time so we know that they are getting the attention and space that they need during the weeks that we are raising them. We start with baby chicks in a brooder and that are fed non-medicated starter. Once the chicks are old enough to go outside, we put them in a chicken tractor in the field behind our house and move them to fresh grass each day. Our garden is grown using organic fertilizer and as many heirloom plants as we can.
What does a typical day look like on your farm?
We start our day by feeding all of the animals on the farm. If we have baby chicks at the house, we start by checking on the chicks in the brooder or in the chicken tractor. We move them to fresh grass daily and fill up their waterer. Next we feed the pigs. We currently have 2 sows and 1 boar. The chickens and the pigs are supplemented with food from a local company that grinds the feed for us. Right now, we are busy planting and watering the garden. We can't wait to be able to start harvesting some of what we are planting.
What is your biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge has been marketing our product. We are a small family farm and feel that we aren't always able to find a way to get our products known to customers. That is why we are extremely appreciative to have the opportunity to participate in this CSA.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
The most rewarding aspect for us is knowing that we are feeding our family a healthy and sustainable food, and also that we are able to share that benefit with other people and that they enjoy it enough to keep purchasing our products.