How ya doin'? 

The Countdown to Summer is on! 

There are only 7 weeks left till our Summer Season begins on June 3rd! To celebrate the Countdown, we're sending out a little farming story each week till June finally arrives-- we can't wait to see you at the truck real soon!

We do still have openings for this Summer's share-- don't forget to reserve your spot today!  And please pass this on to friends. 

Full information and registration available at www.freshforkmarket.com 

The quick run-down if you are new to Fresh Fork Market:  We are a weekly grocery subscription to local farms.  We call it a Farm Buying Club. Each week from June through October, our subscribers receive a fresh "grab bag" of local provisions, including fruits and vegetables, meats, cheese, eggs, grains, and more.  Omnivore, Vegetarian, and Vegan dietary plans are available and packages are either $25 per week (small) or $40 per week (large).  You pick the groceries up from one of our refrigerated box trucks at over 20 different area pickup locations.  
 
7 Weeks to Finish a Hog

 
A good life for a hog is outside. 

Our hogs, like the chickens we discussed last week, are raised outside their entire lives. This is called "pasture raised," and it lets them live like pigs want to live: they root for grub in the woods and pasture, get exercise, and just out-right act like hogs-- tear up the ground and make a mess! 

The hogs are provided shelter, water and feed that they chose to use freely, but they remain comfortably outside even in the fall and winter months. They're moved approximately weekly to allow them access to new pasture.

It starts with finding the right breed.

This a Red Wattle hog, named for its red skin and tassels dangling on either side of its chin. 

The two breeds that we have had the most success with are Berkshires and Red Wattle.  Both are prized for their intra-muscular marbling, long loins and bellies, and good adaptability to pasture raised systems.

 

Our hogs are on a strict diet: non-GMO. 

Inside the paddock where the sows and their piglets are protected. Notice the shelter in the back right, where they can get some extra cover from the elements. 

These hogs eat like pigs! Good stuff, and a lot of it. At the very beginning, the piglets suckle on the sow. Eventually, they naturally transition to solid feed by dining on some of Mom's non-GMO grain diet in the paddock.  When these guys reach about 40 or 50 lbs, they are ready to move to the bigger pastures for rotation. In late Summer, the farmers plant cover crops like field turnips and daikon radishes, and by Fall, the tops are bright green and in some places, more than a foot tall. All good eatin'. 


When the Winter ground gets tough, the hogs dig in. 

On the prowl for turnips!

Our hogs put the "root" in "root vegetables." During the winter, when all the greens are gone, they root down to find the turnips buried deep in the soil. All this rooting and eating is doubly advantageous-- they are getting loads of good nutrients, stored in the root veggies from the soil and sun, and great exercise in the digging! And as a side benefit for the farmer, the hogs are tilling, aerating and fertilizing the soil. After they root around to find their food, they deposit their manure, and that along with any un-eaten turnips decompose and enrich the earth. Finally, any holes now unoccupied by turnips provide a highway for fresh air, successfully aerating the soil left behind.

 

Now for some math. 

Chef Adam Lambert demonstrating butchering techniques during a cooking class.

In 7 months, the hogs reach a weight of approximately 275 lbs. That's a whole lotta hog. It takes about 700 lbs of feed to get them there. And with the cost of non-GMO feed at an average of $0.24 per lb, that is $168 in feed. To boot, the piglets start out at about $90 per based on how much the mother sow eats during the course of the gestation. Then you calculate the farmers time, investment in land and equipment, etc, and the final cost per finished hog is around $900.  

 

But of course, you don't end up 275 lbs of meat.  The hog is harvested with the hide, head, and guts removed, and the resulting carcass weighs only about 60% of the original live weight. This hot car weight, or hanging weight, is about 180 lbs per hog. It doesn't end there-- when the hog is cut up into chops, roasts, and turned into sausage and bacon, the net is just about 120 lbs of marketable meat, or less than half. 

 


The take home? Healthy hogs make tasty sausage. 
All this work, time and money is worth it: our hams, sausages, brats, loins, and roasts are delicious. We know there is some "pork" available out there for $2/lb, but as is probably obvious by now, there were some short-cuts to get there-- and sacrifices in quality that we are not willing to make. For anyone who has ever tasted our pork, and tasted the difference, they can attest that it's worth it! 



You know what else is 7 weeks away? 
Our Summer Season! 
Click here to learn more & to sign up. 
Please pass this along to friends & family! 


HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?

We'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line anytime! Call us at 
(800)861-8582


Or send us an email.



LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR FARMERS 

Read our 2015 Almanac here and spread it to your friends and family!





PICK UP LOCATIONS

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