Triple S Farms
Third generation farmer, Stan Schutte of Triple S Farm is truly passionate about his livestock. He tells us how his organic farm is operated and describes the various social behaviors of his livestock that he has observed over the years.
Just east of our state capital and west of Indianapolis, Triple S Farms is home to hundreds of beautiful, healthy, and happy turkeys, chickens, cattle, and hogs. Stan’s grandfather started the farm, raising horses, chickens, and cows over 40 years ago. When Stan’s father took over, he diversified into more specialized crops and removed livestock entirely. The farm remained successful, but wasn’t as sustainable as before. “By farming livestock, you don’t need to add anything to the soil- it’s the most sustainable way to farm,” Stan says. When Stan began managing the farm years ago, he reverted back to raising livestock. Some of the row crops that he did keep are now grown as organic feed for the animals.
Irv and Shelly have been closely associated with Stan for years, even before Fresh Picks opened our doors. He has delivered a consistent supply of high quality, healthy products since our first day of operation. Triple S offers a wide range of fresh meat cuts and prepared products. At Fresh Picks, we’ve carried his poultry, beef, and every year for Thanksgiving we are so proud to also offer his bronze-breasted, free-range turkeys.
The Triple S team, though comprised of just four people, is hard working and runs a tight ship. Stan operates the farm with his 24 year old son, Ryan, Ann, who is the Operations Manager, Quinton, who has supervised operations for the last 7 years, and Dyaln, who is in charge of all the ground work. Stan is grateful for all of his staff, and especially enjoys working so close with his son, also the Farm Manager. Ryan has worked on the farm for the last couple of years and Stan hopes to follow the family tradition of the passing the farm down to the younger generation.
It was important to Stan to become certified organic as soon as possible. “It’s not just for financial reasons, but also because we are working with Mother Nature, and not against it,” Stan explains. The farm’s mission is to produce the highest quality, best tasting meats and produce available that are healthy for us and minimize the impact on the environment. It was important that his customers know the level of quality he is producing without the use of harmful drugs and chemicals. “People are more educated these days and more aware of food scares and security,” Stand adds. High quality and taste drive the farm- “We grow taste” is not just their slogan, but ingrained in all aspects of the business. In 2002, the farm proudly acquired certification for their pastures and crops.
All of the cattle from Triple S are born on a neighboring farm managed by a retired teacher who cares for them like they are children and gets teary-eyed when they leave his care. The calves are exposed to acres of pasture from the time they are born. They are then transported a short distance north to Triple S Farm once they are weaned. At that time, once they are about 5 months old, all they’ve consumed is their mother’s milk and grass. The calves continue to graze on open pasture and do so to their liking. Their diets are complimented with an organic, home-grown grain feed that is freshly ground on premise. Stan’s chickens and pigs are born on the farm and kept indoors for about 4 week and 8 weeks respectively. As long as they are healthy enough, they are then introduced to the outdoors where they roam freely. Baby turkeys arrive on the farm at just a day old and are protected inside for about 6 weeks before being able to run free.
The famous bronze-breasted turkeys from Triple S are truly the pride and joy of the farm, especially for Ann. They average about 15 pounds, stand tall, about knee-high, and are beautiful and glossy. Most commercial turkeys get processed at 2 ½- 4 months, but Stan waits until at least the 5-6 month mark. Like the rest of the livestock, the turkeys are pasture raised with a complimentary vegetarian diet full of nutrients and minerals. And they are pastured rotationally, which means the fence is moved every few days to allow access for greener pasture. Turkeys are happy to graze on pasture, but enjoy clover the most as well as goldenrod and pigweed. Any critters they come across are also a special treat.
None of Stan’s livestock are ever confined. The free-range animals have access to a more natural and varied diet and have the ability to run, play, exercise, and socialize. The turkeys love being active. In fact, Ann refers to them as escape artists since they are frequently seeking adventure as a flock. Their strong herd nature means that when one passes through the gates they all follow: likewise when one returns the whole flock returns. Ann says their movement is similar to a flock of sparrows, all in concert, though gawkier and far less graceful.
As demand continues to increase, it becomes an even greater challenge to keep up. “The atmosphere has completely changed,” Stan explains. “Everyone wants to know where their food is coming from.” It’s a more sensitive marketplace, but Stan is confident of his product and happy to be positioned in the forefront. Delivering humanely raised meats, free of any chemicals, GMO’s, or other drugs is an honest and ethical way to operate his business and make a living. “When I was younger, the kids would always make fun of the farmer kids,” Stan says with a chuckle. It may not have been cool and hip back then, but it’s certainly rewarding and exciting for Stan today. “It took 50 years to get this kind of respect, but it sure was worth waiting for”.
Typical Farm Day
Stan’s days are long beginning at 4:30 a.m. with a tall cup of coffee. He sets the schedule for the 20 hour day ahead, planning the staff responsibilities and handling any administrative duties in the office. Once the bills are paid, he can leave the office around 6 a.m. to greet his staff and review the day’s agenda. The remainder of the day is spent caring for the animals- feeding them, moving them around to different parts of pasture, cleaning their quarters, bathing them, and when the time comes he transports them to get processed.
Best of Farming
Stan’s consumer base, from his Buying Club especially, provides him with honest and consistent feedback. When customers don’t like a particular product, Stan listens and tries to make the necessary improvements. The best part of running his farm, is taste testing. “We’re always cooking, grilling, and trying out new stuff, but we remain driven by our buyers” he says. The level of involvement and interaction with his customers is strong and weighs heavily on the availability of product. Stan is always happy to sample new recipes, but knowing the product is healthy and was raised properly is the best reward of all.