Early in July we had a special visitor to the Willis family farm, Ken Myers and his two adorable children stopped by during their summer vacation. Ken had visited us a few years ago with a group from Chipotle Mexican Grill. To support its mission of Food With Integrity, each year Chipotle sends employees by the bus-load to visit our farm to gain a deeper understanding of what the mission means. The employees learn more about farming sustainably, the humane treatment of farm animals and how all of this plays into the flavor of Niman Ranch pork.
Ken was so inspired by his trip to our farm that he has been telling his children stories ever since and wanted them to see our pigs the way he did : pasture-raised, curious and friendly. When they arrived it was one of the hottest days during this hot and dry Iowa summer. The pigs were just lazing about and were not very interested in our visitors. However, they were interested in the mudhole by the water tank, which the pigs use to cool down on hot summer days. The children were excited to walk into the field and finally see the pigs they had heard so much about.
After seeing the pigs, my father led them to the Dream Farm where we have about 140 acres of native Iowa prairie with a few natural ponds. A truly beautiful site. While there we introduced the Myers clan to our flock of chickens, including six special ones that are quite tame.
The six very special chickens were given to Sophia and me by a friend who teaches fourth grade and hatched them in his classroom. We took them off his hands when school got out but they were a bit too small to be placed with the rest of the flock. They lived in our
basement for several weeks as they continued to grow before we released them with the others at the Dream Farm. They are so tame they practically jump into your hands. Ken’s children were thrilled to hold a real live chicken and found them really amusing and fun to watch.
We had a great time with Ken and his family. Our relationship with Chipotle has allowed us to meet so many great people It is always rewarding to hear that the work we are doing on our farm has such a personal impact on others.