From the age of four, Tom Martin knew that he wanted to be a farmer. His childhood memories of farming with his father have inspired his dedication to the land and his animals, and to leaving both in even better condition for the next generation. “There’s a different way to do things these days that is healthy and productive,” Tom says. “Raising our cattle on pasture is one of the things I can do to make sure that my sons will be able to farm healthy land with healthy animals.”
Tom and his wife, Sharon, started raising grassfed Angus cattle in 2000. Today, they run about 130 head on 86 acres, raising and finishing the cattle entirely on grass and forage. Familiar with conventional systems, the transition to intensive grazing was a learning experience for Tom. “I needed a lot of fencing and to learn about grass, among other things,” he notes. “But I met so many tremendous people along the way—a real community of farmers dedicated to raising cattle on grass and to helping each other out.”
One of the benefits of Tom’s intensive grazing system is that he interacts much more with his cattle. He checks on them twice a day, getting to know them individually and adapting their care as needed. Concerned about protecting the soil and preventing erosion, Tom has also seen the benefits to the land of a rotational grazing system. “The cattle,” he says, “are our partners in growing the grass and fertilizing the soil. It’s a wonderful, natural system that works.”
Tom enjoys working the farm with his sons, Gabriel, Zach, Nate, Jacob, and Joshua. Eight-year-old Jacob is especially interested in helping out the farm and Tom has been impressed with his sons’ composure when working with the cattle. “Jacob and his brothers really have a feel for it,” Tom says proudly. “My greatest contribution is in teaching my sons to respect the land, the animals, and those for whom we feed.”
For more information, including where to purchase Mountain Lane Beef products, visit www.mountainlanebeef.com.