Rettland Farm, made up of several area lots of land owned and leased by the Ramsburg family, is the type of farm/business that people that like to support. Small businesses want to succeed, and their owners appreciate being able to see customers enjoying the end product of the family’s work.
The Ramsburgs and their staff focus on chickens, pigs and sheep in the livestock area, and are also expanding into various grains that are now allowing them to offer items such as warthog flour, milled just down the road right below the Maryland/Pennsylvania border at Union Mills, shown immediately below. This water-powered process stone-grinds the grain, providing a suitable final step in bringing us flour that is cared for closely throughout the process.
I visited one of the most recent areas of land used by Beau Ramsburg and family, located right along Route 97, connecting historic Gettysburg to Westminster (Maryland) and the Baltimore area. In addition to being the home of the larder, where individuals in the community can come on Saturday afternoons to purchase their products, this Baltimore Pike farm is where you’ll find many of the chickens and pigs.
Rettland Farm is currently using Cornish-Rock chickens; we often think of these as our broiler chickens. After about two weeks in the warmth of a brooder house on land near the Ramsburg home, the chickens are brought to the Baltimore Pike location, where they are allowed to move freely in and out of the shelters, foraging on the barley, oats, clover, rye and other grasses planted for their sake.
These chickens live together in their flock until approximately 7-9 weeks of age, before being processed for our use by the farm staff, just down the road at their original farm. Every step is done in a way to minimize stress, allowing for the best flavor, as well as providing ethical treatment for the animals throughout their lives.
Beau feels, as many do, that the ability of the animals to move and roam freely outside also leads to a product that is of the highest quality. This belief is backed up by numerous local restaurants who are purchasing Rettland Farm meats.
In order to maintain the best quality of the land for long term use, and ultimately to provide the best foraging for the chickens, the shelters and fencing are moved throughout the season.
One can’t help but notice one creature of a different shape living amongst the chickens: Ween, a laid back Pyrenees guard dog (one of several the family has) that befriends and protects the flock. Beau noted that the young chickens soon learn that she is their protector, and they move toward shelter at her bark or even cuddle nearby Ween when resting.
Further from the highway is the area where the Berkshire/Tamworth pigs live and forage for about ten months, once again eating the vegetation planted for them, as well as supplements of sorghum, barley and soybeans. As with all of the Rettland Farm products, the Ramsburgs follow an antibiotic-free and non-GMO philosophy for their animals.
As with the chickens, the foraging area is moved on occasion, in this case in a rotating “wedge” though the field. There is also a separate area for the pigs that are farrowing, with an A-frame shelter for each pregnant sow.
Beau is part of a farming family, having grown up on his father’s dairy farm, once again just down the road. When we buy food locally, we’re supporting families and our communities directly, and continuing the prosperity for many individuals tied to the agricultural economy.
In addition to his direct experiences on his family farm as a youth, Beau graduated from Penn State with a Dairy and Animal Science major. His farm’s efforts to bring us the best possible product has been rewarded with some of our best area restaurants buying and serving his products, including the historic Inn at Herr Ridge, the newly opened and upcoming York favorite, Tutonis, Baltimore’s famed spots, Woodberry Kitchen, Fleet Street Kitchen, and Bottega, Elizabethtown’s Rooster Street Provisions, the restaurants at Hotel Hershey, and Harrisburg’s Mount Hill Tavern.
In addition to supporting these great places with our dinners out, feel free to stop by the larder (for your own dinner table) on Saturday afternoons at 2776 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg PA. Follow the farm’s Facebook page here, or visit the blog.
Thanks to Beau Ramsburg and family for allowing me to spend some time on their wonderful farm. Remember to support local businesses and farms.