What’s new on the farm?

I decided to put this blog together so I can share what’s happening on the farm. The problem right now is, nothing much is happening. We are in an awful drought…our last significant rain was in February. We’re getting a little right now, but it remains to be seen whether it will actually be enough to make a difference. Six dry months are hard to overcome.

I’ve spent the summer watching pastures get drier and drier, and listening to the grass get more and more crunchy as I walk through. My pigs can harvest much of their food from the pastures,if the pastures are growing. They can’t do much with dead grass, which is what I have right now. It’s a little depressing, but that’s life on the farm. Better days are always just around the corner. Maybe the fall will be wetter. Maybe the next litter will be bigger. Maybe the next garden will yield better….and maybe this variety of corn will be the one that makes perfect cornbread. Farming can be frustrating, challenging, and downright exhausting. But better days are always, maybe, just around the corner.

What is natural pork?

Pigs can’t be “grassfed” the way cattle can. Cattle are ruminants; they have four stomachs that allow them to break down the fiber in grass and get the most out of growing plants. Pigs have a digestive system that is very similar to a human digestive system. Pigs can digest green vegetables, and get a lot of nutrition from them. But pigs can’t grow fast and get fat on pasture alone, any more than we can get fat eating only salad.

My pigs do live outside, and they do have access to green stuff year-round. Depending on the pig’s age and stage of life, forage can be anything from just a garnish (for little ones just starting out) to the vast majority of the diet (for adult pigs who aren’t working very hard). My preferred diet to fatten pigs for the freezer is about turnip pasture and corn. I think the pigs are eating about 50/50 turnip greens and corn. It’s a little slower that confinement feeding, but it’s good for the pigs and it makes great pork.