The Place: Long Beach, Nova Scotia
The Treasure: Wild Mountain Farm
Open farm day! This year we took a trip up to visit Wild Mountain Farm and farmer Lance Bishop in a little community called Long Beach – about a half hour north of Wolfville.
We’ve actually known Lance for quite some time back when he used to vendor at the Halifax Farmers’ Market and caught up with him again at Wolfville’s market. He had fantastic products then and has fantastic products now – by far some of the tastiest beef around.
Open farm day was a good excuse to go see his operation in person. We’d seen pictures and talked to him about how he raises his animals, but of course seeing is a different matter.
We arrived a little after lunch and were immediately taken by the view:
Kathleen (Lance’s significant other) greeted us and took us on a mini-tour while more people arrived. First up were the pigs! The sows were all pregnant and separated from each other for safety until they gave birth:
When not expecting little ones the pigs have a very generous pen, I’d guess at least a quarter acre.
After that we took a short walk to where the rams were. The rams were being kept seperate from the sheep because of the breeding timing. Lance likes to have the sheep pregnant for the winter and birth in the spring.
The rams also have a very generous area. It’s nice to see the animals have room to roam if they want – in no way cramped. People in the city would be jealous of the space these animals have!
Know what’s nice to follow up with after rams?
We moved on to another pasture which housed the younger pigs in tractors. Not tractors like vroom vroom, but movable holding pens. The pigs were being held in these until they grew big enough that the coyotes won’t bother them - in the mean time it’s for their own safety.
Once they’re old enough they’ll be turned lose in to, you guessed it, a very generous area. The sheep will eventually be moved up to this area also.
Sheep! After wondering where Lance was (touring with the previous group) we walked down in search of him and to view the sheep’s holding area (for the time being, they’ll be moved up to the other pasture for the winter).
The sheep are in an absolutely stunning spot.
Guarded by Andy the mule and a llama that I didn’t catch the name of, the sheep have several acres of land to roam and a natural spring to drink from.
After visiting with the sheep we were invited to see where some of the farm’s cows and yearlings were being pastured, about 7 minutes away.
July was a very dry month for all of the province and August wasn’t a whole lot better. The pasture rotation is usually pretty easy to do according to Lance, but this year the grass just didn’t grow so things were a little off. That being said there were about 30 or 40 cattle here and I’d guess 10 acres – in the one pasture. A second pasture was open but they hadn’t decided to move over there yet – even though the grass really did seem greener on that side.
The way Wild Mountain Farm raises their animals is the model for ‘free range’ and ‘natural’.
As I said at the start of the article, we’ve known Lance for quite some time know and this is the most relaxed I’ve seen him. In talking with him after the tour he said that farming brings it all together for him, it’s something he needs.
In giving the animals in his care the best life he can and the customer the best product he can I think Lance feels at peace with himself.
He’s farming the right way - with the best interests of his livestock, his family, the customer and the land in mind.
Wild Mountain Farm can be found every Saturday at the Wolfville Farmers Market and they have a monthly meat delivery to the Halifax area. Go to their web site for details and to order!