After 7 years as a public accountant and 13 years as a corporate VP at Legg Mason, Shane Hughes decided to do something different with his life. He spent his childhood living on farms, and returned to live on one 12 years ago. It wasn’t until 2008 that he decided to take the plunge into and start Liberty Delight Farms.
If you’ve ever talked with Shane, chances are you walked away with a smile on your face. His passion for and deep knowledge of animal husbandry is remarkable. He can chat with you about anything from your pet dog to your most recent barbecue. If there’s one thing Shane wants you to know about his business, it’s how well he treats his animals. He points out that it’s very important for the consumer to understand his farming practices and how much thought and preparation goes into properly caring for the animals.
I gained a deeper appreciation for the hard work of raising animals on the day I visited Shane’s beautiful farm in Reisterstown, MD. As soon as I got there, Shane took me out to meet his animals. First, we stopped off to see the cattle. At any point in time, he has between 100 and 120 heads of cattle on his farm. I learned there are four different categories that the animals fall under. When they are born, males are bulls and females are heifers. Once a heifer has her first calf, she is referred to as a cow. A bull that has been castrated is referred to as a steer and there is only one bull on the whole farm at one time. I found this information fascinating, and I’ll never again refer to every type of cattle as simply a “cow.”
The cattle we saw in the barn were primarily steer, with a few cows milling about. Shane told me about the natural feeding process – how he grows hay for the cows to eat and mixes “haylage” in with their feed, which is wet hay that has been mowed and chopped. This holds more nutritional value than plain hay, gives the cattle more protein and is more easily digested. It is always nice to hear when a farmer cares so much about what their animals eat!
Later in the day, we took a drive out on the hills and found a group of cows and their calves relaxing in the shade near a stream that runs through the farm.
My favorite part of the farm was the pig pen. Pigs are so smart and fun to watch. A few of them came up to me wagging their tails and sniffing – I almost felt like I was interacting with a dog! These lucky pigs, who are about 6 months old, eat very well. Shane gives them deli scraps sometimes!
Next stop was to see the chickens. Shane keeps them rotating through appropriately sized pens. He makes sure that as they grow, they are always given room to do whatever it is loud, chirping, growing chicks need to do!
The same area housed a few rabbits that Shane is breeding. He plans to open a whole new structure just for breeding and housing the bunnies, as his demand for rabbit has been growing.
Shane has laying hens for eggs, although he tells me he used to have a lot more before a fox found his way into their cage! The lamb and turkey that Shane sells at the markets are raised on his farm by another farmer.
It is clear that Shane loves what he does. I encourage you to take a moment to talk to him at the market, ask to see pictures of the farm and ask which cuts of meat works best for your dishes. Shane is all about helping customers understand what he does. He encourages consumers to be interested in the process and invites everyone to come visit his farm!
Liberty Delight Farms is at all three Central Farm Market locations. Mention this blog post on the weekend of July 19-20, and in honor of “National Hot Dog Day” (July 23rd), Shane will give you a package of hot dogs 50% off!