Farming in the Gunnison Valley at Parker Pastures
Grass fed meat, dairy and eggs!
The big change in our lives is that the Dussault-skis have become the Dussault-farmers. Around mid May we were blessed with an invitation to be summer interns at a local sustainable farm. This farm happens to be right on the edge of Gunnison which makes it easy for us to commute back and forth a couple times daily. The farm is managed by a Bill and Kelli Parker and their three children. We have known Bill and Kelli for many years as we all grew up together here in Gunnison. Our children have become best of friends with the Parker's three children who are very close in age to our boys. It is great to see the children flee to the fields, barns and different club houses they have created. As soon as their feet hit the ground we usually don't see them until it is time to go. However, they do help with some of the basic chores and pal around with us when we need an extra hand. They don't even know that they're doing chores because they just think they are playing with the animals. For us adults, we have been learning so much about raising animals and the art of holistic land management. Over the summer we've been around for the birth of everything from kittens, pigs, sheep, goats and cows. We daily experience the cycles of life and death. Farmer BIll as we call him said it best the other day when a cow got sick, "You know what they say. If you're gonna have livestock, you're gonna have dead stock." All in all, the farm is filled with healthy and happy animals.
Our daily tasks have included bottling milk, separating cream, moving sheep, pigs, cows and chickens to fresh and vibrant pasture to forage around on. We move 6 chicken tractors daily. The chicken tractor is a 10x12 pen that house about 50 chickens each. They have no bottom to the pen so the chickens have access to fresh grass, dirt and all the other organisms for them to forage on. In addition to moving the chickens twice a day we also supplement their diets with some grain and make sure they have fresh water. There is also 8 dogs that help protect the livestock. In the evenings of each day we collect 10-12 dozen of fresh free range eggs.
The end product is something we believe in and have come to appreciate much more than in the past. It's kind of like going back in time when it was common place to be eating your local food that you either raised yourself or visited your nearest farmer to buy your food. There's just nothing quite like carving into a 6lb. chicken that you had raised on pasture from just hatched to just cooked. Yummy! Not only is the food we're helping to raise delicious, it is far superior in health benefits than what you can buy at the large industrialized super markets. We call it nutrient dense food and consider it beyond organic.
I would encourage everyone to do a little research and find out if you have any local farms around your area and see what they have to offer. Many of the small farms are excited to share what they are doing and provide a farm tour. Then if you want to take the next step start buying some of your food local and support your local farmers, bakers, orchards, etc...