Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds: Wanted To Be A Farmer All Year Round

Pete and Jen are two of the coolest people ever. I photographed them this past fall for the Boston Homegrown project and they were so patient with all my questions. We shared a mutual enthusiasm for what we were each doing and it made my time at their farm so wonderful! Pete and Jen run the aptly named Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds in Concord. Don’t be fooled by the name though; they also have pigs and rabbits on their farm.

If you’ve been following along with my Boston Homegrown project, you know that I’ve been photographing chefs/restaurants that focus on locally sourced ingredients for their dishes. I’ve had the honor to photograph the farmers/suppliers as well, which has meant fisherman, veggie farmers, and animal farmers. That being said, I knew when I went to visit Pete & Jen that the animals I would meet were going to end up as food. As someone who shops most often at the grocery store, there’s always a disconnect between the food I buy and where it comes from. This project is definitely changing that for me, but that’s a different topic altogether. Going into this shoot, I wasn’t sure if visiting this farm was going to turn me into a vegetarian. Let me be clear on this point: it did the opposite! It was eye-opening to see how well these animals were treated and how much Pete and Jen loved them and loved what they do. The idea that I could benefit from that made me feel a lot better about eating meat (to be specific, meat that can be traced back to a farm, etc). Honestly, it was a revelation.

Here’s the thing, price is a deterrent. I get that, the farmers get that. We live in a world of convenience – making a trip to a farm for your veggies/meat is not as easy as going to the chain grocery stores. I am also a slave to this lifestyle, but I’m trying to break free. People like Pete & Jen who take the time out to educate are the people helping me to change my habits, and thus, my lifestyle. When I asked them about price, Pete said something to me that I have been repeating for the past eight months. He said, “The question shouldn’t be why our chicken is more expensive, but why is theirs so cheap?” Uhm, hello? It was the simplest thing, but I hadn’t ever thought of it. Spending a couple of hours on the farm with them, I saw just a fraction of the amount of physical labor that went into caring for these animals. I saw them feed the chickens, play with the pigs, and cuddle the rabbits. Why is this not the norm? If all this work goes into caring for healthy animals that then provide us with healthy meat, what on earth is happening to the chicken that only costs $8? Think about it.

Enough of that – here are some photos from my trip to Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds:

Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds

Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds

Friendly piggies. The pigs were like 230 lb puppies! They would come up to me and nuzzle at my knees and try to chew my shoelaces and they’d follow you around. It was so much fun hanging out with them!
Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds

Wolfgang. This guy is definitely the BMOC (Big Man on Campus).
Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds

Pete and Jen with the egg laying chickens! One of the things that I learned was that the layers are entirely different chickens from the meat chickens. Now I get to pass that information on to you!
Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds

I can’t thank Pete & Jen enough for spending their time with me and teaching me all about what they do. I encourage everyone to look into their farm. They have a mini-store in Concord where you can purchase eggs and all kinds of meat, too. I can’t say enough wonderful things about my experience with Pete and Jen!

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Margaret Belanger Photography | Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds: Wanted To Be A Farmer All Year Round

Meg Belanger