Along with vegetables, at Luna Bleu we also raise beef cattle, pigs, and chickens. All of our animals are raised as part of the farm system. The roles they play in cycling and recycling nutrients, eating insects, mowing grass, and tilling the soil are just as important as the products they provide.
All of our animals are certified organic, just like everything else on the farm. This means our animals are raised on certified organic feed (hay, pasture, grain and cull vegetables from the farm); they are never given any antibiotics or growth hormones; no herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers are used on their pastures, and they always have access to the sun and fresh air outside (in the summer they are on pasture 24/7). Our meat and eggs are all certified organic.
We started our herd of cows with a Jersey named Ellie and a Milking Shorthorn-Jersey Cross named Eva. Eva was the grand dam of our herd for many years. She lived a long and productive life, taught many young folks how to milk by hand and is the cow pictured on our logo and signs. She died on Mothers Day, enjoying new pasture, in the spring of 2009 at the age of 20.
Our beef herd is now primarily made up of Devon cattle. We chose this breed because they are efficient grazers and produce high-quality beef on a grass-based diet. They are also well adapted to our climate with thick skin and hair that keeps them warm in the winter and sheds out so they don’t overheat in the summer.
In the spring, summer, and fall our cattle rotationally graze on our home farm and a few pieces of land in the community. We move them to fresh pasture at least once a week, and often every two or three days which keeps them eating the highest quality forage and gives pasture plenty of time to regrow before being grazed again.
All the little white patches in this photo are spider webs, a good indicator of the amount of life these grazing practices encourage.
In the winter all the cows come back to the home farm where they can freely go between our hoop barn and a smaller piece of pasture depending on the weather. They love being out in the sun on nice days, and always having plenty of fresh air helps keep them healthy. Inside the hoop barn we use a mixture of wood chips and hay to keep everything dry and clean, and the bedding pack they create provides a wonderful source of compost to spread on vegetable fields and pastures.
Little calf Valentina making use of a bale feeder for an extra comfy bed in their winter paddock. These two come from generations of Devon breeding on our farm, but somehow the white face from a long ago Hereford ancestor just keeps peaking through....
Our beef is available by the cut at the Norwich Farmers’ Markets as well as right here at the farm. You can sign up for a Meat CSA Share with or without a vegetable share, which gives you a monthly mix of beef, pork and chicken for a small discount. We occasionally sell beef animals by the whole, half or quarter, contact us for more information.
Pigs are smart and piglets are cute. We purchase weaned organic piglets in the spring and raise them on our organic fields, feeding them weeds and cull vegetables from the farm and certified organic grain.
Pigs are our natural field renovators. They love rooting around eating plants and roots and grubs. Our pigs get plenty of sunshine and exercise and always a nice mud hole to wallow in. Although pigs, unlike cows, cannot get all of their nutrients and energy from pasture, they do love to eat grass and other forages and it is good for them. We try to move them every couple of weeks to new pasture.
Pigs enjoying all of the leftovers from salsa making. Tomatoes are one of their favorite vegetables.
Our pork is available by the cut at the Norwich Farmers’ Markets as well as right here at the farm. You can sign up for a Meat CSA Share, a monthly mix of pork, beef, and chicken for a small discount, with or without a vegetable share. We also occasionally sell pork by the whole or half animal, contact us for more information.
Our poultry is all organic and raised on pasture and fallow vegetable fields. The chickens help us to improve our field and pasture fertility, and the bugs, worms, and grass they eat foraging makes healthy and happy birds. In addition to the foraging, we feed our chickens organic grain.
We get our day-old chicks in the mail and provide them with a warm, dry place for their first few weeks. As soon as they are hearty enough, we put them out on pasture in movable pens.
Young chicks in the brooder.
When they get a little bigger we put a flexi-net fence around them and open the pen doors so they can go in and out and have plenty of room to explore and forage. The electrified fence also helps to keep predators out and the chickens away from growing gardens.
We raise Freedom Ranger chickens for meat. The Freedom Ranger breed comes from a mix of American and European heritage breeds that were selected to grow faster than an egg layer, or dual purpose breed, but slower than the Cornish Crosses that are the standard for industrial farming. The slightly slower growth means they stay active and foraging their whole lives while still producing tender flavorful chicken.
Six week old freedom rangers on pasture.
Our chicken can be purchased fresh or frozen at the Norwich Farmers’ Market, through our Meat CSA, or directly here at the farm. We have a discount for purchasing ten or more chickens and we appreciate advance orders.
If you want to know when we are bringing fresh — never frozen— chickens to the farmers’ market, like us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram— we try to post there when we’ll have fresh chickens, so you’ll be sure to see our announcements.
One last thing on the chicken front . . . because we process on farm, we can only sell whole chickens. Sometimes people are hesitant to buy larger birds when we have them, but don’t be afraid!
Larger birds are great to roast one day and use for soup or stir-fry the next, or to cut up for many different meal options.
When you buy them fresh, it's easy to cut them up and freeze pieces . . . have a wing party over the winter, use a chicken breast in stirfry, and save the carcasses for stock. . . Contact us if you want to be on our “fresh chicken” list so you can cut up your own chicken.
Intimidated by the idea of cutting up a whole chicken? It's really not hard! Here is a great video showing how to cut up a chicken (hat tip to our pals at Sunrise Farm for finding this). Very clear directions and demonstration. Take a look and bookmark it for the next time you buy a fresh, organic, free-range chicken from Luna Bleu Farm.
If that still seems a little difficult, let us know when you contact us for fresh chicken and we'd love to show you how!
Like our broilers, our layers spend their lives on pasture, foraging for plants, insects and worms, and happily cleaning up cull vegetables as well.
In the summer our layers move around the pastures in an "egg mobile" where they have space inside to roost at night and lay their eggs, and fresh pasture outside to enjoy. Having them move through the pasture is not just good for them, it also adds fertilizer to the pasture and as they pass through areas the cows have gone through previously, they scratch up cow manure, spreading it around and helping decrease the number of flies and parasites. Plus, it makes for those beautiful orange egg yolks high in omega 3's!
Our eggs are available for purchase at the Norwich Farmers Market, the farm and for our CSA members as an add-on Egg Share. You can also find our eggs on occasion at the South Royalton Market.