A central Florida rancher…. ranching with a PURPOSE! Focused on heritage breed animals and sustainable practices.
This is a true story of making lemonade from life’s “lemons”. This unique family farm was originally a Dairy farm until modern farming regulations began to contradict and undermine the good care of the animals. Small creameries went by the wayside as the “megga farms” were the best poised to construct the necessary facilities and meet waste disposal requirements. The family built “modern” facilities with the required concrete floors and special drainage together with installing fans for cooling and circulation and mats to aid comfort. Joint problems, arthritis and much shorter life spans of the cows housed in the new barns were the result. You see cows are used to walking and standing on grass.
After the first generation left the Dairy business Torm, had visions of raising cattle and other livestock for the purpose of having the BEST quality meats. He researched Wagyu cattle and the foundation of his herd came from Wagyu raised by a Washington rancher who worked in partnership with the U of Washington in developing the first Wagyu in the States. Torm’s cattle roam freely on the 450 acre farm in Central Fl which is studded with small ponds and beautiful native oak hammocks dripping with Spanish moss. This is “Old Florida” out of a picture book.
For the growing Wagyu herd, Torm planted a special variety of Bermuda grass. One which has a deep root system for drought tolerance and a high nutritional content. (the Japanese prize Bermuda grass for Kobe beef due to the”sweet” qualities and light white marbling it produces. )
Torm believes in working with the land and environment, and accentuating the best qualities in the breed.
“You want to keep the tractor turned off as much as you can”, says Torm.
He also believes that focusing on one characteristic such as “marbling” is short sighted. He likes to accentuate the strong characteristics of the breed such as slow growth , easy birthing, strong genetics and of course intramuscular marbling. These Wagyu are marbled with the healthier monounsaturated fat for tender and flavorful meat.
His purpose is to produce beef which is both healthy and tasty. By utilizing only grass feeding with no grain “finishing”, he produces a truly high quality beef from healthy animals.
He promotes natural farming without major irrigation or yearly pasture planting (keep the tractor off- remember) so when he does use the tractor it’s for a purpose. Torm has a very sophisticated tractor attachment that cuts, bails and wraps the grass in “shrink wrapped” bails, right in the field.
The wrapping protects from both sunlight and moisture, retaining nutrients for supplemental feeding in times of drought or frost. Torm epitomizes “back to nature” farming principals.. But on the other hand… he has meticulous records of breeding and genetic profiles of each animal.
The Dairy barn is now home to Berkshire pigs, which have gained great popularity with modern chefs for natural marbling and true pork flavor, he is also raising Mangalista pigs, which are virtually unheard of in America. The Mangalista is an old breed with incomparable flavor and copious amounts of pure clean lard which is prized by pastry chefs. Like the Wagyu cattle, both are very slow growing breeds which have been phased out of major modern pork farms. Slow growth translates to healthier animals and these are loaded with flavor!
Torm is also the first to raise a herd of Berkshire/Mangalista cross, accentuating the best qualities of both breeds. The concrete flooring of the barn, which was so inhospitable to the cows, is quite welcomed by the pigs. It makes for a nice clean area to raise the piglets and provides shade during the heat of the day. However they are free to roam in the pasture as they please. Torm enjoys turning on the water sprinklers in the barn for a refreshing shower for the pigs to roll around in. They are happy just being pigs! There is a limited amount of this specialty pork available for Viva Gourmet customers.
Torm raises strong healthy animals by working WITH the special breeds and the land. The animals KNOW he is “the man”. On a recent visit, we sat in the golf cart in the middle of the pasture under a stand of century old oaks; he began “calling” the cows… They started moo-ing and in a few minutes were surrounding the golf cart. They weren’t much interested in me, but Torm. They walked right up next to him. I now call him the “cow whisperer “.
His children are learning all about the cycle of life living on a farm and the whole family is concentrated on healthy eating. The animals on the farm are well cared for by this modern “cowboy” who wears shorts and rides a golf cart, and are living quite happily on one small Central Florida farm. This results of this purposeful rancher are healthy animals and flavorful meats!