Circle B Ranch is nestled in the gently rolling hills and woodlands of the southwest Missouri Ozarks. The 90-acre farm is conveniently located in the town of Seymour, just 32 miles east of Springfield. “At Circle B Ranch, we raise hogs the old-fashioned way: outside on the pasture, where the hogs can run and exercise,” farmers John and Marina Backes proudly explain. “It’s the way nature intended.”
John and Marina relocated from Branchburg, NJ, in September 2009, where they owned a small hobby farm, raising turkeys, ducks and chickens for their own consumption. But they believe their non-farming background has also played a key role in the success of their outdoor hog farming operation at Circle B Ranch. John has extensive experience in mechanical contracting, so the entire infrastructure of the farming operation goes to him, as well as the everyday operations of the farm. Marina owned and operated an upscale catering company in Somerville, NJ, for 11 years, which taught her the quality of food on our tables.
John and Marina undertook extensive research on the type of farming that would work best on the 90 acres they purchased and eventually decided the property would provide the ideal environment for outdoor hog production. With a passionate belief in high welfare farming, there was never any discussion about how they would raise their Berkshire and Red Wattle hogs: “We do not practice any confinement raising,” says John. “The more humanely treated the animal, the better the meat will be. The difference that natural, humane treatment can make to the taste of the pork is out of this world.”
John explains that they breed, farrow and raise all their hogs outdoors, and is fond of the English-style outdoor farrowing huts that are popular among European farmers. “We raise our hogs in a natural environment where they graze on pasture and wooded areas rich in natural nuts, grasses and berries, as well as mineral-rich earth and roots. We provide fresh spring or well water, which greatly reduces parasites. Parasites affect meat quality.”
The Backes are very serious and passionate about providing their customers with the best pork products possible. “We dedicate a tremendous amount of time and effort to offer our customers the ultimate in a naturally raised healthy pork product,” says Marina. “The time spent on each hog translates into a better tasting pork product.”
Both John and Marina and their family are extremely proud to be AWA certified. In fact, John built the layout of the farm to comply with AWA standards for pigs. They firmly believe that an animal’s welfare is very important to the taste and the appearance of the meat, which is why Marina and John make such a significant effort in the natural and humane raising and handling of their traditional hogs.
Circle B Ranch pork is available through their online farm shop, as well as at numerous stores and restaurants in Springfield, St. Louis, and Kansas City, Branson and Bernie. For more information—and details of where to buy—visit www.circlebranchpork.com. To stay up to date with farm activities, following Circle B Ranch on Facebook at www.facebook.com/circlebranchpork.