"YOU CAN'T RUN AWAY ON HARVEST DAY" - Barbara Kingsolver from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

This book changed our food life. And lots of other things. My wife’s best friend had recommended it when we were living on the ranch in the early days (‘You guys are like that book! Read it! You will love it!” Thanks, Courtney.). Suddenly, we were making our own bread, Gina was canning peaches and tomatoes and we were making most, if not all, of our food from scratch. Which was good timing for AJ, because he was just starting solids. Lucky baby!
It was the kids that propelled us, for sure. Gina’s family thought we were nuts. She had grown up on a farm in eastern South Dakota and her family still farms back there. Gina called her aunt for her Bell canning guide and borrowed her mom’s equipment. The slow-food movement, the local-food movement and all kinds of terms were a fit for our family. We loved it. We still do!
We brought our kids to sell beef at the markets and soon they were playing “Farmer’s Market,” tucking an umbrella into the couch cushions and yelling “BEEF FOR SALE!” We took them down to the chickens and AJ helped us pluck (or chase after) feathers when we harvested the chickens, Lucy tucked snugly in the Moby riding on mama’s chest. They both helped us make cheese and when mama oversalted the first batch, AJ’s suggestion of grapes on the top made it not only edible, but delicious.
And, even now, when we sit down to eat the beef or the chicken or the elk that dad had hunted, we thank the animals for their sacrifice. Our kids know where their food comes from. Sometimes that is a blessing and sometimes it leads to hard questions. We are not afraid of that.
You might have some hard questions, too. Well, that’s why we are doing this—transparency. And connection. From start to finish. So, let’s focus on the “finish” part of the equation.
Our contracts specify that you are buying a live animal and that we will work with custom butchers to process the meat as a service to you. In order to sell individual cuts of meat in ANY retail marketplace or storefront or by any other means, it has to come from a state- or USDA-inspected butchering facility. For the Laramie area, there is no facility within 90 miles. Anyone who sells individual cuts has to take their meat (if they own livestock) to get processed in one of those facilities, or else buy the processed cuts “off the truck” (Sysco, Food Service of America, etc) and repackage it for sale. The government does this so that they can inspect and control the processing of meat for individual sale.
We can only sell in Wyoming, unless we process at a USDA-inspected facility. Whenever possible, our animals are harvested right on the ranch. No trucks, no high-traffic holding pens, no shoots. That’s important to us and we support it every chance we get.
We sometimes use state-inspected or USDA facilities if out-of-state interest is high enough to warrant the trip or if schedules regulate that necessity. If non-Wyomingers want to get their meat from us, a known source, we can support that effort. And our local (and regular) butcher is sometimes booked.
When it comes to the chickens, they will be harvested on the ranch. Again, because you are buying a live animal and we are processing it as a service to you, we will make it as simple as possible and butcher right there.
In Barbara Kingsolver’s book, the irony is that you can’t run away form the end game. The real end game. And for people who choose Black Market Farm, they wouldn’t want to. It’s about having a relationship with your food from beginning to end. It’s a process we treat with reverence, dignity and respect. And the results feel good to feed our family. And yours!