Folks who haven’t spent time on a livestock farm may be unaware that the phrase “going off” is a polite way of referring to animals headed for slaughter. They might also assume when Rachel Breeden says she’s got four hogs “ready to go off,” that she’s somehow ambivalent about the reality that much of the livestock she raises at Hampton Ridge Farm will end up on a dinner plate.
But the truth is, Breeden has given that subject a lot more consideration than most. In fact, she’s making a living by helping people reconnect to the local landscape and the food it produces.
In 1996, Breeden’s parents, “city kids” from Detroit, dove feet-first into the farm life, purchasing 50 acres and a handful of livestock in Glencoe, KY. By the time they passed it on to her, the operation had grown to include approximately 200 cows, pigs, bees, chickens, ducks, and turkeys—a cornucopia of creatures raised for consumption. Customers, both home cooks and chefs, can order individual cuts or bulk packages online and choose a pickup option in Florence or Dry Ridge, KY.
Breeden and her husband quickly became entrenched in their local food community, introducing tours and food-share programs. They still have regular jobs—he’s a full-time diesel mechanic and she works part time at an insurance company. But while the farm grows at a steady clip, they’re focusing on things like fence mending, feed math, and community outreach. The latter is most fulfilling for Breeden.
“It’s the law of large numbers,” she says. “Animals will get sick; there will be coyote attacks. There will be bad days when you wonder if you can keep going. But then you think about the families you’ve fed. The time and tenderness you’ve put into being there for an animal from start to finish. Making sure it’s done right. That’s what gives me a sense of purpose.”
Photo by Tine Hofmann – www.tmphotography.net