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Pastured Sensations: Snohomish farm makes feed, offers annual meat packages

Nov 1st, 2012 | Category: Community, Farms

by Samantha Schuller

At their 23-acre farm between Snohomish and Monroe, owners Paul and Shawndra Johnson raise chickens, turkeys, and pigs in fresh air and sunshine. With the help of their two teenage sons and Shawndra’s parents, their farm is proudly family run and have a strong commitment to humane and healthy animal husbandry.

“I’d put our pork up against any other pork you might come across,” Paul said, adding they believe the conditions their animals live in contribute to the quality of their meat. Their hogs live on grass pasture in three-sided shelters, and can come and go as they please. “It’s important to give the animals a warm, dry place to sleep, but they should be able to get out into the dirt and grass whenever they want to,” Paul said.

Their pastured poultry and pork enjoy fresh, locally sourced, feed milled at the farm and formulated by Paul himself to optimize the health of the animals.

“For two years, when everyone else was relaxing at the end of the day, I was reading books on chicken and hog feed,” he laughed. “And when I was done with that, I called the authors and asked them even more questions.”

He is proud of his recipe, and is happy to be able to supply it to other small farms and customers at a price that’s lower than what he was paying before he began milling the feed himself.

Milling their own feed helps the Johnsons run a system that’s sustainable in more ways than one. “Farmers have to think about sustainability for everyone in the system—the animals, the environment, but also the farmers themselves. A farm isn’t sustainable if it doesn’t make business sense,” Paul said.

COURTESY PHOTO

At the same time, the grain for their feed is sourced from within Washington state, contains no GMOs, and is only milled as they need it, helping to preserve nutrients within the grain and contributing to healthier animals.

Customers to the farm can purchase pastured pork and grass-fed beef, brokered from a neighboring farm, or purchase a package that provides all the meat a family of four will need for a year. This package begins with a deposit paid in the spring, which helps the Johnsons with the season’s start-up costs, and then paid by the pound as each harvest arrives. Customers can expect a half hog in spring, about 25 summer chickens, a half hog and half beef in fall, and a November turkey.

In addition, the Johnsons raise layer pullets in the spring for families who want a small flock of hens, and a DIY package for customers who are interested in raising their own meat birds, including day-old chicks, fresh-milled feed, and a processing class back at the farm when they’re ready to harvest.

“I think there’s something wholesome and important about being so intimately involved with your food,” Paul said, adding, “though if you just want to be the one in the kitchen putting the finished meat into bags, that’s ok too.”

Pastured Sensations Farm is located at 14226 State Route 2 in Snohomish. For more information, visit www.pasturedsensations.com.

Published in the November 2012 issue of Grow Northwest.

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