Tag Archive | pigs

“Cage-Free Pigs”

It is the difficult time of year when we take our pigs to butcher. Part of this emotional process is loading them into the trailer we transport them in.  The pigs get loaded the day before, so that we don’t have wrestle them into the trailer at the last minute.   Yesterday, I was upset because I did not like that my pigs were cramped in the trailer for 24 hours.  My husband offered me a word of, or I guess an article of comfort, that sent me through the roof.

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New law has just been passed that by the year 2020 California has to make all their animal enclosures “cage-free”.  On the surface that sounds wonderful, but lets dig a little deeper.  Below is the regulation quoted in The News Tribune,

“It requires that, starting in 2020, calves confined for production have at least 43 square feet (4 square meters) of usable floor space, while breeding pigs be given at least 24 square feet (2.2 square meters) of floor space in their pens starting in 2022.

Starting in 2020, egg-laying hens must be been given 1 square foot (144 square inches) of floor space each on the way to being cage-free by 2022.”

According to the new “cage free” regulations, the 14 x 7 trailer that I have the pigs in for less than 24 hours would be enough space to raise 4 pigs in, for their whole life.   FOUR pigs.  A single sheet of plywood is 32 square feet, imagine that in your head.  Go to the hardware store and get a piece of plywood. Put it on the ground and stand in the middle of it.  That single sheet of plywood, would be too big to raise a pig.  As you stand in the middle of that plywood, think about that being all the space you have for your whole short life. After living in a space, less than that sheet of plywood, when that meat goes to market it is labeled cage-free.   CAGE-FREE!  Do you feel CAGE-FREE standing in the middle of that piece of plywood.  Remember, that is  8 square feet more space than the new ” cage-free” standard.

My heart aches.  Our pork is raised slightly different and I am happy to say we do not sport the label of Organic, Free-range, Cage-free, or Humanly Raised.  Our pigs are offered an average of 10,000 square feet of pasture per pig.  Yet when I am asked about my product, the first question is, “is it organic?”  No it is not organic, and it never will be.  There is not a food industry standard high enough to label our products.

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My rant will end with this, please educate yourself.  If you are paying for cage-free or free-range or organic, take the time to know what that means.  Support your local farmers, regardless of the label.  Visit the farm, see how their food is raised. Purchase your food based on that, not on a label.  The label does not mean what you think it means.

 

The Article:

https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/business/article221193020.html

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June’s A Jumpin

I was talking with a friend this morning and I reviewed the list of things that I would be doing today, it goes something like this:

Breakfast, coffee, devotional, animal chores, plant crop of corn, cook breakfast for this kids, start them on their school work, process 30 pounds of strawberries, laundry, mop and wipe down kitchen after making jam, cook lunch, help kids with more school, clean up, work in garden till 6, cook dinner, eat dinner, clean up dinner, help with evening chores, bath children, shower, and pass out!

As I look at that list, a few things change from day to day, like I might weed instead of plant corn, or process beets instead of strawberries, but this is my day.  No wonder I do not have time to keep my blog up to date!  The difficult thing with never leaving work is you never leave work.  I never get to say “Ok, Im done for the day”.  The minute you do that a chicken gets out or someone throws up.  I do however, need to find a way to write more.  So here I am relaxing, thank you for listening.

The pigs have arrived!  They are doing great, we were able to move them out of their baby pen and into the field this week.  They are loving the grass and the open space.  Their names are Ketchup, Mustard and Relish.  We keep saying that we are going to have a race, like they do at the baseball game but it has not happened yet.  These pigs are just as sweet and lovable as our last ones and we are just head over heals in love with this breed.  It is looking more and more like pigs will become a forever animal on our farm.  Within the next year or two we will get a breeding pair to guarantee we always have this breed around.

 

We are almost down with our spring meat birds.  One batched has already gone to butcher and the second batch will go in about 2 weeks.  This is the first year we have really been able to put them out on pasture and we are, as always, learning new things.  The major learning curve this year has been predators.  We have lost many birds, to raccoons and fox this year.  The fox is continuing to be a problem, we have trapped some, but electric fencing around the outside of everything seems to be our only solution.  We have added many small fence chargers for the moveable bird pens and for the pigs and goats.  This seems to be working but we still live in fear.

Lastly, we are happy to announce that we received our cost share grant from  Soil Conservation.  It has been a long, very long process and we are not done yet, but they did tell us we have been approved.  We are excited to start the next step which is planning, estimates, building and yet more paperwork.  It is worth it!  I can not wait to be able to open up those fields and let the animals run.

Alright, enough relaxing for me, time to start chores.  I hope you have a great day!

 

Buying a side of Pork

So we are starting a new chapter on the farm, we are selling sides of pork.  We loved raising pigs last year and this is something we are going to expand on.  I hope we continue to love it!

 

Pork Cuts Vintage Vintage blackboard cut of pork

the picture is from imgarcade.com

This is the email that I sent out to inform people about what it means to buy a side of pork.  I hope that it is helpful to you as well, even if you do not buy from us.

Hello,
Thank you for expressing an interest in buying Pork from our farm.  This email has a lot of information in it but if you still have questions please feel free to call me.  Most of the people that we sell to are friends and family or friends of friends and family.  We love you all and will not judge you one way or another if you decide not to buy from us, this is not for everyone, we understand that and will continue to love you no matter what!

About our Pigs: Our pigs are Gloucestershire Old Spots, a heritage breed of pig that is an original homesteading pig breed from England.  These pigs were almost extinct in 1990 in the United States but are making a come back now through awareness and education.  This breed thrives on pasture, has an amazing personality, is easy to handle and the meat tastes great!  We raise our pigs on grass, not concrete like most pork is raised.  They play in the mud and sunbath.  They are given as much pasture as they want, but are fed grain as well, they are not 100% pasture raised. They are also given treats like veggies from the garden and they love apples and watermelon.

When buying a half an animal you pay the farmer for the animal, the farmer transports the animal to the butcher for you, and then you pay the butcher for the custom processing.  Buying pork in bulk can sometimes be confusing, especially if you’ve never bought your meat this way. You want to think about what cuts of pork you and your family like to eat. In the Spring, you might be thinking about grilling meats, but remember to think ahead to the fall and winter when you might cook more roasts and stews. The butcher vacuum packs the pork and it will keep in the freezer for a year or more. When you buy a side of pork, you are the one that calls the butcher and tells them how you want the meat packaged and processed.  How big do you want your pork chops?  How many pounds of ground pork do you want in one package?  How big do you want your roasts / ham?  Do you want it cured or left uncured?  Buying this way gives you more control over your food.

Lets talk Money: The cost is $4.25 per pound of hanging weight to the farmer (which is me!), and the custom processing costs to the butcher.  The processing costs varies slightly depending on what you want but it is about $80 give or take depend on the size of the pig. The price is based on the hanging weight of the pig, which is the weight after the head, feet and organs have been removed, but before it has been butchered into usable cuts. We estimate that the hanging weight of a side of our pork will be between 70 and 100 lbs. That equates to about $400 for a side of pork, plus the $80 to the butcher. Add those together and that is the per pound cost of the meat.  To compare it to the cost at the store, look at the price for a pork loin, ground pork, bacon, ribs, ham and chops; average all that together and you will get an idea of how the price per pound compares.
You pay $200 now to me as a deposit and the remaining $4.25 per pound to me when we find out the hanging weight.  You pay the butcher directly when you pick up your meat.

Cuts of Pork
There are five specific sections to a hog, two of each section if you’re buying a whole hog, or one of each if you’re buying a side:

– Loin
– Belly
– Ham
– Shoulders
– Ribs

This is a rough picture of what you can get, it changes depending on the size of the pig and how you want it processed: 6 pounds of bacon, 7 pounds of rope sausage, 16 pounds of ground pork, 6 pounds of shoulder roast, 4 pound loin, 9 pound ham, 4 pounds ham steaks, 9 pounds pork chops, 1 smaller pork loin, 4 pounds spare ribs, 1 1/2 pound spare ribs, and 1 1/2 pound baby back ribs.

Ok, I know that was a lot of information.  Please, please let me know if you have any questions!  I currently am picking up 3 baby pigs at the end of April.  I already have 1 1/2 reserved.  If you are interested please let me know so I make sure I have enough.

Still Learning

I wanted to set the record straight, right here and right now.  I know nothing about Homesteading! My husband and I have a dream.  We want to be food indepenant.  We want to live simplier lives and be good stewards of the gifts that we have been given.  This dream has grown and changed over the years leading us to where we are now, a small homestead.  Our dream has been fueled by fellow bloggers, Mother Earth News, YouTube, food sensitivities and a general love for dirt among other things. After growing food, composting, raising chickens, rabbits and fish for the past 3-5 years, I think it is still safe to say we have no idea what we are doing. 
I watched a documentory about Market Gardening and the woman said “how do you become an expert at something you only every do, maybe 50 times”.  That really resinated with me. Think about it, we are in our 30’s right now, if I grow potatoes for the next 50 years I will have only grown potatoes 50 times.  It is said that it takes doing something 30 times for it to become a habit.  How many times do you have to do something to become an expert? I am certain that I will never stop learning and I will never be an expert.
Now that we own our dream homestead, everything we are doing is new.  Even silly things like planting in the ground… I have never done that.  The only successfull gardening I have ever done has been in raised beds.  I do not know how to plant seeds in the ground!  This year is a perfect example of that inexperience.  All of our plants died.  I did not know to ask the previous farmer how much fertilizer he put on the field this Spring.  Who would know to ask that, it was just field grass. Well, weeks before we took over the property, he put the strongest fertilizer you can buy on the land and killed all my seedlings.  I just thought, “wow, you are really bad at this planting in the ground stuff”.

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Currently, we have 46 chickens and 7 ducks.  I have never owned this many chickens.  I honestly have no idea what I am doing.  We have read all the books, gone to workshops, researched online, but when it comes down to it, we have never done this before.  At this point I am just praying we do not get the bird flu and lose all our birds.
Within 3 weeks of closing on the farm, I decided it was the perfect time to get baby goats.  We have never owned baby goats, we had no structure to keep them in and no fences, we obviously needed goats.  I know nothing about goats, this is a fly by the seat of your pants, learn as you go operation.  With a lot of hard work from my husband, I can now say the goats have a great run in building and a fenced in yard. Currently are doing very well, but I have no idea what winter will bring.
Before closing on the farm, I contacted a pig breeder, because what you really need when you move to a farm with no buildings and no fences and no idea what you are doing, is pigs.  The pigs arrived a month after the goats and here it is 1120 at night and I am up researching how to raise pigs.  They are currently 5 months old, some people would have tried to figure things old before they bought them, but I am a fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl.

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So consider this your warning.  If you are coming here for experience and absolute education, this is not the site for you.  If you would like to come along side my family as we learn, please take my hand and we can jump in together.