Teresa and John M. Penhall both have a long history with farming and their four children are fourth generation farmers in the Klamath Basin, Oregon. Teresa's grandfather, Joseph Meeker, and his wife, Dorothy, established Meeker Dairy in the early 1900s, which has been producing milk, turkeys, hay, potatoes, grain and beef for over 100 years. John's family raised hay and beef in Eagle Point, about 70 miles west of Klamath Falls where the family farms today. While both John and Teresa have been involved in agriculture their entire lives, their interest turned toward sustainable production methods in 1999. Now the 55-acre Penhall Farm—known as Food 4 Life—is home to a herd of sustainably managed Animal Welfare Approved Angus beef cattle and laying hens.
The Penhall’s farm is surrounded by water on three sides and is abundant with doves, ducks, geese, deer and coyotes. Their guard dog, Buck, manages to keep all their livestock safe—even from the occasional mountain lion. The Penhall’s beef herd began with the purchase of an old milk cow in 1987 and has grown slowly to around 30 mama cows. Teresa and John can identify who each grandmother, mother and daughter belong to in their closed herd. “John and I have always treated our animals with the utmost respect,” Teresa explains. “We both feel that God has entrusted us with these playful, innocent creatures for a season of their lives and we want to make it as carefree and comfortable as we can. There is no greater joy in life than sitting on a tractor in the morning dew, watching the calves play and frolic in the sunshine. We never poke or prod them and they return the favor by being kind right back.”
Food 4 Life’s laying hens are Java breed, considered the second oldest breed of chicken developed in America. Like their cattle, John and Teresa raise their hens on pasture. As a result, the birds produce healthier, tastier eggs. Research shows that pastured eggs contain three times as much vitamin E, seven times more beta-carotene, and twice the omega-3 fatty acids as industrial eggs. Having AWA certification helps Food 4 Life emphasize the difference between their high welfare pastured products and those from animals raised in confinement. “We became Animal Welfare Approved with the hope and dream that consumers will choose to purchase their animal products from farms like ours because they too are frustrated with the poor quality of life some of these animals are subject to in confinement feedlots,” says Teresa. “We hope to show consumers that a better way is doable!”