Ok, so the Chinese Calendar calls it the year of the rat - but at a rare breed we had the year of the hog!
Heritage hogs that is.
We have run hogs on our property before, to help till up the underbrush. We used Tamworths. Nice taste to the meat, the hogs were not my cup of tea, and I wrote off doing pork, much to customer's dismay. After numerous requests, some verged on begging, we decided to chalk up our experience to the wild breed, and try try again.
I turned to my mentor, and hog guru, Kathy Ecker at Legacy Manor. She runs Berkshire, Large Blacks and Gloucester Old Spots (or is it Old Gloucester Spots, I never get it right), and hybrids of the three for feeders. My requirements - a) Piggies need to know pasture b) Piggies need to be docile and c)Piggies need to be lean.
Piggies on Pasture - believe it or not, a pig who is fed grain right from the get go is NOT going to be a good pasture hog. Mom teaches them how to eat (sound familiar?). So Kathy's hogs are burrowed neck deep in hay bales, out on the grass, and yes, occasionally in the hen house!
Docile - or is it lazy? The Tams were active critters, enough so that I had been bitten, and they were jumping 32" Electronet - enough times that hubby was ready to file for divorce after rounding them up and me saying I'm not quitting the farm! Truth be known, he was scared of them. Me too in a certain extent. Black Sheep the Movie meets Back Creek Valley Pigs in my memory. Then I remember Kathy's boar Bert. (Yes Bert is a Berkshire). I felt safe enough to put my then 2yo daughter on his back. A Boar. Only thing Bert got excited about was food. And even then, in slow motion.
Interestingly enough, this actually led me to think more about the Large Black and Berkshire breeds. Large Blacks have these tremendous ears, which are not only high on the cuteness factor, it makes them more deliberate about where they are going! Have I been nibbled on? Yup. And spit out when they realize it's my pant leg and not a yummy. Apparently though, rubber boots still taste good??
The Spots are DEAR - too adorable really. Can anyone imagine 4 800lb pet pigs? That would have been the case if I had brought spotted pigs home. There is also the matter of fat....which leads me to my last requirement -
LEAN. Yup. I want lean pig. Why? I hate paying for fat on my bacon. Hubby can't handle fat sausage. It's what I prefer, as well as my customers. Yes, the fat is good in pasture raised animals (CLA's etc) - but too much is just well, too much. Not to mention I'd rather have it in the muscles (marbling) than on the back of the animal.
So we chose 4 black gilts that are probably just a smidgen Berkshire to grow out. And I'm hooked. As are the customers. We are opening up new pasture for more - but for right now if you'd delight in some lean pork, take a visit to our friends at Panorama and order their pork sausage stuffed squash!
We are ecstatic to offer this unique product and we will be working to meet the outstanding demands without compromising the quality (the trees only shed their nuts once a year!)
Anyone up for nut raised pork?? (There is a marketing label/logo in there somewhere!)
As I thought - some search for needles in a hay stack - I've found mine! And it's a hog!
Yes, that is me with the piggies IN THE DRIVEWAY. Pet piggies anyone?
Thanks again to Kathy for getting me 'hooked on hogs'!