We are proud to partner with Northwind Farm. Superstar farmers — they are a family farm in the Hudson Valley located near the village of Tivoli.
Starting with some chickens in 1981, Richard and Jane Biezynski now raise a variety of animals – chicken, turkey, duck, rabbit, guinea hen, quail, goat ,lamb, pigs, and cows. The Biezynski’s raise all their animals “naturally”.
“I keep them healthy and clean and I don’t medicate my birds,” he says. “They don’t get antibiotics or growth hormones. I believed in the old adage, “You are what you eat.” When he first began raising the Northwind birds, it was practically impossible to purchase commercial feed that was free of the antibiotics & other additives. He had to develop and mix his own feed; most of the feed suppliers and many other poultry farmers were convinced that he would lose too many birds from disease to maintain the business. He didn’t and the irony, he says now, is that many of the same people who questioned his techniques now solicit his advice.
Other than telling us what his birds don’t eat, Biezynski wouldn’t disclose his poultry diet other than to say that they eat “plain and simple good food mixed with some little secrets that I grow on the farm.” He points out that is takes longer to raise one of his birds to the weight of a typical supermarket chicken and is more expensive but,” he continues, “the demand for my birds keeps growing.”
The Northwind chickens also get exercise although Biezynski says that even though his birds are categorized as free-range by the United States Department of Agriculture, according to his standards they are not. He raises what he calls true free-range birds during the summer when they can live outside, scratching and rooting for the bugs that give them the protein they need. He can’t do that during Hudson Valley winters. However, unlike most commercial chickens, the Northwind birds are never confined to cages and they wander freely around the buildings in which they are housed. “A true free-range chicken tends to be a lot leaner with much fuller, almost gamey flavor, than most people are not accustomed to,” says Biezynski. “When they are outside running around, they build and tighten muscle. For most Americans who prefer a softer meat, a real free-range chicken is hard and tough.”
In 1981, Richard Biezynski purchased Northwind Farm in Tivoli. Raised in New York City’s Queens suburb of Bayside, Biezynski was born with farming in his blood. His maternal great-grandmother farmed in Columbia County’s Bells Pond and Biezynski always dreamed of returning to his mother’s family farm. But his grandfather and father were both florists who together owned and operated a shop that had been established by the Biezynski family in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn in 1913. When they weren’t at the store, they spent their time growing flowers for the store and raising a variety of animals on one of the last remaining farms in Bayside. Biezynsk’s particular interest in “feathered animals”, as he says, began the Easter he was five years old when his father bought him 50 baby chicks.
“ It was probably the craziest thing he ever did ,” says Biezynski speaking fondly of his father. “ I was hooked. I raised them and didn’t lose a single one.”
ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A FARMER
Biezynski always wanted to farm but no one took him seriously, he say. Heeding, at least for a while, the admonitions of his mother who discouraged him from becoming a farmer, Biezynski took over the family business as soon as he completed school. “As much as my mother had enjoyed growing up on he farm, he says, “she was reluctant for me to do it. Farming, with its long hours and relatively little money, is not something a mother necessarily wishes for her son. Nobody really believed me when I said I wanted to farm. All my life everybody tried to talk me out of it.” In 1981, Biezynski sold the store and decided to live full-time at Tivoli’s Northwind Farm which he had recently purchased. He looked forward to operating a general farm which would basically provide for him and his family. He planted ground crops and got some sheep and a few chickens. But as his neighbors began to taste his chickens, the word about their flavor spread and it soon became clear that Northwind was evolving into a poultry farm.
In addition to chickens, Biezynski raises pheasants, guinea hens, Peking (the commonly known Long Island) ducks, full-flavored Muscovy ducks, wild mallards, squab, geese, and turkeys. He also raises birds for show including peacocks and pheasants.
At Northwind Farms Richard and Jane Biezynski raise about 100 pigs—a selection of Berkshire, Berkshires crosses, Yorkshires, Landraces, Hampshire, Hampshire crosses, Tamworths, and Gloucester Old Spots—on 196 acres in Tivoli. “When it comes to feeding, I’m not going to give up my secrets,” Richard says. “Yes, our pigs are out there in the open, on pasture. There are pigs all over the place, even down by the pond, where I don’t want them.”
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