WHERE WE CAME FROM AND WHAT WE DO
Leonard, Byron, Evelyn, Larry, Eleanor
The Story Began When...
Leonard Fenn (1892-1986) married his wife, Augusta (1899-1990), in 1917. Shortly after, Leonard and his father Marion (1866-1935) were looking for land to farm. The father and son purchased two, 40 acre lots from a timber company after it was logged in 1918 and the family moved to Townsend on Christmas Eve in 1919. Leonard and Augusta had four children; Byron (1924-2011), Larry (1921-2005), Eleanor (1919-1995), and Evelyn (1917-1999).
Developing the Land
Leonard and Marion worked the land and farmed around the stumps until they could remove them with fire, dynamite, and hours of back breaking work.
To aid with the war efforts, rubber tires were donated to the government and horses were brought in to help farm and clear the land.
Alas, the Fenn farmstead was erected.
Much of the Fenn farm, like many of that era, farmed for sustenance. They produced dairy, cash crops, chickens, and pigs.
As the farm matured, an additional 80 acres was acquired and more land was cleared.
The Fenn kids grew, had children of their own, and slowly dispersed. In the 50s, Leonard became sick and his son Larry moved back to the farm to help. Shortly thereafter, Larry bought the farm from his father (Leonard). Ultimately, the farm went defunct in the 60s.
Our farm is located in the "big woods" of northeastern Wisconsin approximately 75 miles north of Green Bay on the same sandy loam soil Leonard and Marion cleared in the early 1900s. The farmhouse was sold along with the adjacent structures. Today, the home, silo, and machine shop are the only fingerprints of the Fenn farm that remain.
After trying the delicate and flavorful meat, my father, Jeff Radish, was set on raising these green grazers of the Far East. In 2012, we took the plunge into uncharted territory, resurrecting the defunct farm my mother, Vicky (Fenn) Radish, was born and raised on.
Why Did We Choose Yak?
As the agricultural mentality continues down the path of "get big or get out," the small farms of yesterday are falling into antiquity. It appears that the only way for a small acreage farm like ours can survive is to find a niche market and unsurprisingly, yaks rise to the occasion! There's a lot to love about these multifaceted animals.
Yaks are sustainable. You can raise approximately three yaks on the same acreage as a single beef cow.
Yaks are hardy. For generations they have adapted to the Himalayan cold. They're one of only a few bovines that can survive -40°F temperatures without shelter. Our yaks grunt (yes they grunt) off our Wisconsin winters.
Yaks self calf with an average weight of 20-30 lbs. In the wild, yaks can't rely on the assistance of a human to pull a breeched calf.
Yaks are easy keepers. Calves can be bold early but they respect the fence lines into maturity. Some farms only string a single wire on their fences. No need for a rugged, high fence like their rowdy, buffalo cousins.
All natural, grass-fed, and pasture raised start to finish. The yaks are supplemented hay when necessary and we do not administer hormones or antibiotics to our animals. We primarily raise our animals for meat production but we try to use as much of the animal as possible (skulls, hides, etc.)
What is a "no stress/home kill"? We pay extra to have our butcher and meat inspector travel to our farm on processing day. Our yaks are not transported, dry lotted, fasted, or subject to a foreign environment. By dispatching our yaks in their "natural" environment locally on the farm, the animal's meat isn't subject to the adverse effects of adrenaline from being stressed and/or frightened.
Once dispatched, our yaks are processed and inspected at a local, state certified facility. From our farm to your plate, we are proud to say we do our best to provide the highest quality meat in the most humane way.
If you'd like to learn more about adrenaline/lactic acid, meat quality and why it matters, there are many resources out there. I feel this link does a decent job at describing the science, however.