The Freezers are Full

Yesterday I brought home the pork from the last four pigs we took to the processor. Once again our freezers are full.

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We’re pleased to be able to offer our community the highest-quality pork available, from animals raised humanely and naturally, on pasture. Our pigs live rich happy lives. They’re allowed to do the things pigs love to do, like wallow in the mud and eat clover and acorns. We supplement their natural foraging with chemical-free veggies from our gardens and a Virginia-grown GMO-free feed. In turn they reward us with delicious healthy pork.

We raised seven feeder pigs this year. We grew three of them to approximately 250 pounds and from them we got chops and roasts, along with bacon, sausage, tenderloin and ribs. (We always get the neck bones too–but those are for me). The last four we had processed into whole-hog sausage, after growing them to about 400 pounds each. Their sausage contains the shoulders and hams and is especially delicious. We also got more tenderloins, bacon and ribs.

It costs a lot of money to raise hogs and get them to market. We paid the processor over $1200 yesterday and our feed costs were over $100/week for much of the year. We have to front all that before we ever see anything in sales. Of course that’s peanuts at the industrial scale, but real money for small farmers. We should recapture our costs and a modest profit by the end of next year (we don’t factor in labor or capital expense in those calculations), but the upfront expense and the time required to get to market is one of the reasons I think small farms like ours tend to prefer raising meat chickens to pigs.

Once the pigs were gone we opened their pasture up to the goats, who are enjoying lots of forage there. I didn’t mow that pasture all year and with the great weather we’ve been having, it is lush with the kind of “browse” that goats love. We haven’t had to feed any hay yet this year.

In the spring we’ll get some feeder pigs and start the process all over again. Although I do enjoy having pigs on the farm, it’s nice to have a break from the daily routine of feeding them.

Now we just need to concentrate on emptying the freezers.

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