Feature Family Farmers:
Norway Ridge Angus
Photography courtesy of Abigail Shaeffer
When Tony and I started Northeast Family Farming magazine, one of the aspects we were excited about was the many opportunities it would afford us to meet people in our area. We looked forward to expanding our knowledge base of local farm-fresh products for our own beneﬁt as well as the beneﬁt of the readers. I don’t know, however, if we realized that along the way we would make dear friends, and not just acquaintances. And that’s how we feel about Paul & Stacy Fusco of Norway Ridge Angus.
Somewhere during our ﬁrst year, we connected with Paul & Stacy via instagram (which is honestly where we meet many of you). We made plans to drop oﬀ magazines for them to have on the counter of their soon-to-open farm store in Wyalusing PA which opened in May of 2022. And as we stood on the porch of their beautiful little store, we got talking about honeybees, deer hunting and chickens. All of a sudden we were on their side-by-side, riding up the hill to see the cows and walking through the woods to visit the pigs, and checking out the amazing cuts of meat they had to oﬀer in the farm store. We could’ve stayed much longer but we had other places to deliver magazines to, and so we hit the road. But we knew we had found friends and farmers that we’d work with on many projects down the road and this is one of them. We’re so proud to present Norway Ridge Angus as our Fall Feature Family Farm.
Paul & Stacy bought their farm in Wyalusing in 1995. The original farm is 43 acres, but they have purchased property around them in recent years to continue to provide places for their cattle to pasture. Paul spent 25 years with the Pennsylvania State Police and Stacy taught elementary in the Wyalusing Area School District and though neither of them had a history with growing up on a farm, they knew it would be part of their future together.
Paul had always had some sort of animal to care for growing up such as chickens and rabbits. When they got married, they lived in apartments in Waverly and Dunmore and then ﬁnally bought seven acres in Harford. They started a bottle calf and a few piglets and Paul explained, “the bug just bit full tilt.” They realized the seven wooded acres just wasn’t going to cut it for what they wanted to do so they began looking for property more suited to farming and that’s what brought them to Wyalusing, where they raise Black Angus and heritage breed forest-raised pigs.
“It’s been a work in progress,” they said. “If you had seen this barn when we bought it, when it rained outside, it also rained inside the barn. The beams were rotted inside the foundation. The house needed love. It had been someone’s seasonal residence. There was no plumbing or electricity when it was built in 1876.”
So they gave the place the love it needed. And even while working full time, they had animals. “We wanted to know where our food was coming from,” Stacy shared, “whether it was from the garden, or keeping chickens, which progressed into pigs and cows we raised for our own meat.” They would raise one for themselves and then sell the other to friends or family. When people saw what they were doing, they became interested, so two to three pigs became ten pigs, which became 38 pigs last year.
And their herd grew much the same way. “For the most part, it was feeder cattle,” Paul said, “and then we’d ﬁnish them and decide how we might get better quality, so we got our own brood cows to be able to determine the quality of the feeder calves and eventually we had an almost completely registered Angus herd. We started transferring embryos from the midwest and also using artiﬁcial insemination.” Paul shared how they’ve progressed until they reached the high level of quality they wanted to see in their cow herd.
Currently, they’re focusing on building up the genetics so the animals can gain weight and ﬁnish well on grass. Within the next two years they want their beef to be all grass-ﬁnished. “Grass ﬁnished tends to be a little leaner, so you want animals that aren’t skinny. Our cows are tanks,” Paul laughed.
Four years ago, they started to work on growing their oﬀering of forest-raised pigs. “We run the pigs through a silvopasture setting where it’s a mix of ﬁeld, trees and brush,” Paul said, “and as they progress across the pig pastures, come late summer when the acorns are starting to drop, they’re back in those oak woods.” Stacy shared, “the acorns are gone back there. The pigs can hear them hitting the ground. They ﬂip rocks over and eat grubs. They love it back there!”
“On a fresh move, especially when they forage, they’ll graze like a cow eating the grass, and as they chew it down to the ground, they start rooting. They have a self-feeder so they can get grain as well,” they explained, “They need to have the grain but when they’re moved to a new area you can tell they’re happy because of all the other varieties they can eat. They look like they all have grins on their faces.”
We loved hearing Paul and Stacy share about their passion for these animals and were encouraged by their approach of slow and smart growth. It’s extremely tempting to want to do it all in farming and in life, but one quickly discovers that doing it all does not equal quality. Paul and Stacy have put a great deal of time into learning how to enhance their processes and learn from mistakes. And one of the areas they have put a great deal of time into learning is regenerative pasture management.
“We don’t overgraze pastures,” Paul said. “There’s enough grass blade left behind for solar energy to go back down into the ground. You don’t want it to look like a putting green.” But this approach leaves Paul and Stacy watching the ground a lot.
“We rotate anytime from twelve hours to four days, depending on a lot of variables. Keeping the ground covered takes care of the soil biology, which in turn takes care of the grass. And the grass takes care of the cows. It’s an interrelated cycle.” Paul laughed that he’s watching the grass more than he’s watching the cows because the cows will take care of themselves as long as the grass isn’t abused.
“When you see a ton of ‘putting greens,’” Paul said, “the cows are starving. It’s a time consuming process, but you can see the results in the cow.” And they’ve got the cows trained now! “They’ll take the tops oﬀ the grass and they’ll let us know it’s time to move.” Stacy laughed.
Paul and Stacy are further examples of individuals who don’t farm because they have to, but farm because they love it. And a lot of that love is driven by the desire to be connected to their food source and help educate others. And I asked them the same question I ask every farmer we interview, the question I most want answered for our own beneﬁt as well: What would you tell others who are passionate about the same things, who want to follow the same path you have?
“Give yourselves grace,” they replied. “Mistakes are ok to make as long as you learn from them. And learning from others’ mistakes are even better (and more economical!). Do your research, adapt as you go, and be ﬂexible.” Those are good lessons regardless of what pursuit you follow, and an encouragement! It can be easy to see someone’s success and assume that’s the only side of things they’ve ever seen, but Paul and Stacy made it clear to us that the success they’ve come to enjoy is won through hard work, research, and grace through mistakes. And all of that is driven by a passion and a love for what they do.
So if you have never come across Norway Ridge Angus, or all they have to oﬀer, like their amazing Black Angus beef or forest raised pork (and a vast assortment of other local farm products), you can check them out at their store on Fridays and Saturdays, 11-4 (or by appointment) or through the Delivered Fresh website. You can also check out their YouTube account to get a ﬁrst hand look at what’s happening on the farm.