Lucy here, I stole the blog for an important announcement.
Spring is here for the 2nd time this year. We here at the farm are all really hoping it decides to stick around this time. Farm chores in the cold are miserable, add in wind or freezing rain and we all question our career choice. In honor of Spring I went digging in my Kari Underly book, ” The Art of Beef Cutting” for some fun new cuts. Last fall I got to meet Kari and have her teach me for a few days at the NC Choices Women in Meat Conference. In reading her book I decided that we needed some new steak cuts. Great pieces of flavorful beef yet not quite the same price as the fancier choices like Ribeye, Filet, NY Strip.
Luckily I have a great boss that is quite supportive in my monthly game of confuse the processor. This truly is a game as sometimes I win and sometimes I lose. And you guys have been wonderful in trying out new cuts, especially the Boston Butt steaks a.k.a Pork Ribeyes. Grilling season will be underway next week & I’m ready to get the coals going aren’t you?
Our new cuts
Chuck Eye Steak $12.99 lb
Ranch Steak- $9.00
Bottom Round Steak $9.00 lb
Drop by today and pick up some new steaks for next weeks warmer temperatures. For this week I recommend sticking with the stew beef, roasts & bones for broth.
One of our Large Black momma pigs just had a litter of piglets yesterday.
Miguel, our resident midwife told me just a few days before that this momma was about to have babies. And he asked, “Didn’t I want to bring her in the barn?”
600 pound pigs roaming around the barn yard cause too much trouble. I want to reserve those stalls for when we have extreme cold or a sick animal. Plus this young lady has a particular dislike of yours truly so I wasn’t in a hurry to have her rubbing up against me. She might decide to nibble again.
Fortunately, this wasn’t mom’s first rodeo. The weather was perfect and she went into the small barn in her paddock and made herself comfortable and popped out nine perfect little babies who are all doing great. We’ll have more pics in the future but if you love to see baby piglets, now is the time to book your tour. They only stay this cute for a few weeks.
Six piglets born so far, all healthy and happy. Everyone is nursing and we’ve lost none so far. I’d love to claim that I’m responsible but I actually had to run some errands and this is what I came back to so I’m a bad midwife. Maybe she’ll still have some more, maybe not. Large Blacks (the daddy pig) aren’t known for their litter size so six may be all we get.
We’ll keep an eye on her though to see if more pop out.
We have a couple of our momma pigs in the barn who are VERY pregnant. We’ve been watching them for the past few weeks and nada. But this morning when Miguel opened the barn to let them out for their daily stroll, we found this.
This is one of our Chester White/Old Spot crosses. She weighs over 400 pounds, to give you a sense of scale here. She is currently in labor and we’ll be checking her every hour or so today till she starts popping out babies. Time permitting I’ll try to keep everyone updated on the progress.
This was a few minutes later. She’ll keep moving around trying to get comfortable, which any momma out there will tell you isn’t possible at this point. That’s cantaloupe from dinner last night just in front of her.
I’ll pass along any well wishes to her as I check on her. She doesn’t need any help, but the babies sometimes need a bit of help getting to where they can nurse and stay warm next to mom so I’ll be checking them to make sure they are ok. Hopefully by this afternoon we’ll have a new litter of pigs, and of course some cute pictures.
If you’ve been here before, you know that produce is what makes our pigs different. We don’t feed commercial bag feed to our animals.
Above you see a normal way to feed pigs. Once a week, once a month, whatever, you dump bags of feed into the top of the feeder and then you basically walk away from the pigs and ignore them. If you are certified Organic, the only difference is that you dump Organic feed in instead of Tractor Supply feed. No really, that’s what Organic means. Different feed. The pigs generally eat what you see in this picture, corn. If they are Organic then its Organic corn. Corn is the animal equivalent of this.
Corn is calorie dense, but nutrient deficient. Of course people may feed a grain mix, or a prepared pellet like this.
The grain companies will tell you all the nutrition the pig needs is in this pellet. Probably is. Of course they are telling you that your pig will gain at a maximum rate for the minimum cost to produce the biggest pig possible in the shortest amount of time possible. They aren’t promising the pig will live a long healthy life since that pig will be slaughtered at 6 months of age. It is not like the pig will get heart disease, joint problems, etc in only 6 months. But the pig will get the results of this kind of diet in the meat in 6 months. The same meat you will be putting into your body. I’m assuming you’re planning on living longer than 6 months.
Fed with a self feeder, when pigs want to eat, they walk over to the feeder, nose it open, and munch on the grain inside. After they eat their fill, they go lay back down and don’t do much else the rest of the day. We’ve bought pigs fed this way before. They are extremely fat and lazy to the point of it being funny. I actually loaded some large pigs one time from a farmer. Usually loading pigs is kinda upsetting to them. They are going into a strange new place and are locked in. The doors slam and people yell and poke. They can get upset. We closed the trailer door behind them and started chatting for a minute while I wrote the check. About 2 minutes after loading, I heard snoring and looked in to see one of the pigs passed out asleep and already snoring. Folks, that’s not calm, that’s fat and lazy!
When those pigs would get to our farm (we no longer buy pigs), we would melt about 25% of their body weight off in a couple on months. It was like starting a gym membership and weight loss program all at once. Suddenly they had to work to get their food, and their food wasn’t high calorie, nutrient poor corn. The pigs became active and spent their days rooting and looking for additional food besides the produce we fed them. Once they lost their blubber, they grew at a normal pace and finished out nicely. What they weren’t able to be anymore was this.
So what do think makes for a healthier meat for you and your family, the couch potato above, or this?
Oh, and did I mention there is NO COMPARISON in the taste? Try our pork chops or Boston butts and see what real pork tastes like. There is no comparison.
Yesterday Miguel, Yarik and I sorted pigs from paddock to paddock. I messed up a text I sent to Miguel first thing, causing him to feed the pigs we were going to not feed until they were moved. That’s a problem because the way we get them on the trailer is to put their food on the trailer and they then fight to get on. Then we simply close the gate, raise the trailer, and drive them to where they need to be. Once there and in position, we lower the trailer hydraulically, open the gate, and the pigs just walk right off. It just takes a few minutes and works well. But because I “murderlized the Queen’s english” in my text, we had to crowd the pigs onto the trailer. They don’t much appreciate this method and neither do we. I had to take my shower via water hose when we were done.
Regardless, we sorted out and moved pigs around to different paddocks. Some moved to brand new paddocks and some got resorted into new groups that were closer to each other’s size. It’s very similar to an elementary school where some kids move up to third grade, some skip to fourth, and some get held back in second grade. But for us, all that decision is based on size and weight, not end of year testing.
Now we have our finished pigs right by the barn where we can really focus on getting them full meals and letting them get that last bit of weight on before going to the processor. With our diet of pure produce, we don’t have to worry about over fattening the hogs so we can really pour the food to them and let them have all they can eat. As spring comes in and produce becomes more plentiful, this won’t be a problem to keep them eating.
I just got back from the processor and we have bacon, snack sticks, and fresh BBQ in the freezer cooling down right now.
I also dropped off two hogs today to be picked up next week so even if we have a run on bacon (seems like it always happens), we should be restocked by mid next week. We are getting a little short on kielbasa and bratwurst so it was time to take a couple more hogs and get some sausage. We are well stocked on everything else and my chicken farmer is going to be here tomorrow to deliver a large order of chicken and dairy goodies, including more ice cream!