Wyebrook Farm, located in Honey Brook, PA, is a dream come true for owner Dean Carlson. Having worked in finance for 15+ years he was often perpetuating the concept that we must always want more. After a while though, he started asking the monumental question, “When is enough, enough?” That is when Dean decided he wanted to stop perpetuating the ideal-ology of you never have enough. So, he pursued his dream of having a self-sustaining farm as his contribution to the planet.
Dean purchased a 360-acre farm that that was on its way to be sold for real estate development. Knowing that he wanted to raise livestock and open a butcher shop, the land Dean purchased was perfect for the rotational grazing of his beef, hogs and chickens. Within a few years, Dean realized the butcher shop wasn’t meeting his customer’s needs, so he at the demands of the market, he opened a restaurant. He now leases acreage to a local vegetable farmer who supplies the restaurant with fresh, seasonal veggies. This helps continue his close looped system on the farm.
Our tour began with the free range, laying hens and the chicken tractor. While chicken tractors have become a staple of every organic, free range operation, each has its own unique trait and this one did not disappoint. Dean has a motion-sensor egg mover on a timer, which moves the eggs from the box to the conveyor belt. This helps prevent broken eggs, broody hens and dirty eggs, saving him time and money.
Next, we moved to the pasture raised meat chickens. The chickens are raised in a movable hoop house that follow a grid-like pattern across the pasture. Each house contains approximately 100 chickens, all having access to fresh water, pasture and moved daily. Dean installed a solar-powered well at the top of a hill to address the need for water on his farm. Since it is solar powered, he never worries about losing power, which is one less stress to have.
The pasture raised pigs were next on the list. Dean showed us the large wooded and spring abounding pasture where the pigs reside. The hogs have ample amount of shade from old-growth trees, pasture extending beyond them is perfect for foraging and springs dotted throughout their pasture provide 24/7 access to water. The only thing Dean provides are huts, for inclement weather, and grain. This low-input hog operation is a concept that many of the students had been wanting to see in action and learn about the pros and cons.
Finally, Dean introduced us to the butchering side of the farm. Students received a demonstration of how to break-down half a hog, the cuts and tools needed to perform the task efficiently. The butcher walked them through the primal and smaller cuts from the primal’s. Wyebrook only butchers what they need, that results in three hogs a week and for their restaurant and individual cuts for butcher shop.
The day at Wyebrook was a wonderful opportunity for the students to see a farm-to-plate operation. Students were able to observe different techniques in technology and management of livestock, which they would be able to use in their own operations.