john and his hogs

For those of you who don’t know him, let me introduce you to John Backes, co-founder of Circle B Ranch. He began his life in New Jersey where he developed a love for the outdoors and a passion for the slow-food movement. Since then, he has held to the belief that slowly-raised, natural food is better for the environment, better for the farmer, better for you, the consumer. He shares these views with his wife Marina, who is also his partner. Because of their interest in the slow-food movement, they cultivated a hobby farm for over 20 years, learning what it took to make animals happy and produce sustainable yet healthy food. Their experience eventually led John and Marina to begin Circle B Ranch here, outside of Seymour Missouri, in the fall of 2009. The ranch has since been successful due to their dedication to the animals they raise and the quality of their products.

Circle B Ranch’s success is partially due to John’s commitment to the farm and to the animals. He has dedicated himself to the life of a farmer. It’s who he is. He eats, sleeps, and breathes Circle B. He and the farm-hands feed and water over 300 hogs in the early morning. Afterwards, he makes any necessary repairs to fences, farrowing huts, farm machinery, and etc. Then comes the counting and sorting of the hogs. If a sow has had a new litter, he must account for each and every piglet. It is essential that John sorts the pigs, according to size, age, and weight, and that he rotates them into various pastures to improve foraging quality. Reaching the end of his day, he then helps feed the pigs again in the evening to supplement their natural diet, giving the hogs the best possible nourishment.

When the hogs are finally ready to be processed, John loads them up and delivers them for processing, as well as returns to pick up the resulting cuts. He is involved in the process from the beginning to the end.

For John, it’s all about the hogs. Natural farming is his preference; he chooses to let the hogs run free and be their natural selves. In his opinion, a pig isn’t a happy pig if it can’t romp and snort or shade itself under a tree. A pig isn’t happy if it can’t root and forage for grasses, grubs, or roots. A pig isn’t happy without freedom.

And the hogs at Circle B are definitely happy. One can see the pigs come running when John approaches a pen and calls out “Here, piggy, pig.” They bound up to the fence like little puppies, snouts raised and quivering, craving his attention. A big grin grows across John’s face, saying it all. It’s plain to see that he truly cares for the pigs, and they love him.    

hogs in field resized

John’s goal is to raise well-loved, happy, healthy animals. His reasoning: a happy hog makes a healthier hog, a healthier hog makes a better quality product, and a quality product equals a better flavor.

To find out more about John and Marina’s story and their philosophy on food, read this informative and enlightening article from Feast Magazine:

And for those of you who would like to know a little more about the slow food movement, this link will get you started down the right path:

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