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.

IMG_9245

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 nextΒ 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.

Advertisements

20 comments on “The Freezers are Full

  1. Sue says:

    Oh, I sure do wish I lived nearby—I’d certainly buy a bunch from you. That’s the one thing I have been able to find around my area—organic, pastured pork.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      We’d be pleased to let you help us empty the freezers. πŸ™‚ We’re fortunate to have customers like you who want good naturally-raised pork. Sorry you haven’t been able to find it yet where you live.

      Like

  2. It’s so hard to even break even on pigs. We raised three this year, with “free” raw milk to supplement all the veggies, pasture, and feed we bought. Zero profit, but no cost except our labor. I can’t even imagine keeping breeders. Our freezer has a good amount of pork though that we feel safe eating, can’t beat that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      It’s hard to break even on any kind of farming these days. We have friends who prefer to think in terms of covering the cost of their own food. They sell enough to cover the cost of raising the food (exclusive of labor, of course) and therefore reckon that’s the way the pay for the food they eat, which they now know to be clean, safe and delicious. That’s doable, I think, even if making money in any conventional sense isn’t.

      It’s possible to raise pigs less expensively. We could feed them nothing but slop, garden extras and whatever they can forage and we could process them ourselves. But then they’d take a lot longer to grow out and we wouldn’t be able to legally sell the meat. For now what we’re doing makes the most sense I think.

      Like

  3. shoreacres says:

    Let’s see… if I drove over there and brought that sausage home in a cooler, the per-pound cost ought to be about…. oh, $35? πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      We’d be delighted to have you come over and we’d love to send you home with a cooler full of sausage. But honestly I’m afraid we’re outside the range of your reasonable shopping area. πŸ™‚

      Like

  4. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, living off the income generated from small acreage homesteads and market gardens is very difficult when all the factors are considered. The far below hourly wage would be laughable if taken seriously. One of the things in addition to better quality and taste of food is the savings netted from not having to buy food from the store. I know your household doesn’t eat much meat so that’s minimal. You have mentioned that you don’t buy much from the store and eat seasonally from the garden. If it weren’t for the others in my household, I would be able to do that more but alas they are a victim of commercial food. I do try my best and make french fries from potatoes that I’ve grown in the garden that they all seem to think are wonderful. I think I’ll try some snap peas next year as Bradley likes them and well …. there are the strawberries and sweet corn. So there are some things that they will eat from the garden.

    The temps are more normal now and so far we have a snow covering of about a foot. Working in the garden is over until the snow melts off which looks to be about two months away. I still have lots of projects to work on before the ground thaws out. Days will be getting longer now which will be good. Early morning gardening is my best time. It’s time to start browsing through seed catalogs and making plans for the 2016 garden.

    Have a great freezer full day.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Our kids were picky eaters too. Our son is better but his diet still needs a lot of improvement. Our daughter matured into a conscientious vegetarian, who eats very well (so there’s hope for anyone). Meanwhile our granddaughter loves veggies and all good foods and is happy to go pick and eat raw veggies right of the garden. That’s got to be pretty uncommon in American kids these days!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    How often do you eat pork, and do you run out before the next pigs are ready?

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I have sausage or (less frequently) bacon with breakfast most mornings, until we run out. We usually do run out before the next pigs are ready. This year we raised more than we have before, so while I hope that still holds true, we’ll have to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. BeeHappee says:

    To market to market to buy a fat pig….
    We’ve drove around some for some pastured pork, and eventually cut down on pork, but kids love it in dumplings, pirogis, chebureks, pot stickers and other such stuffed/stuffing things. Of all the animals I grew up with in my childhood pigs seem to be most memorable, and they are my kid’s favorites too, so there is that other value in raising pigs ( I can tell you like playing around with them too, Bill πŸ™‚ ).

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Yes, I admit to enjoying having the pigs around. πŸ™‚
      I’m fortunate to have good pork available. Pork, venison, fish from our pond and an occasional chicken give me all the meat I could possibly want.

      Like

  7. That freezer looks like a wonderful thing. I can make a profit on pigs, but it’s a small one. I count it as worth it though, as it’s meat I can trust. We make enough to cover costs and have our own side for free.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      We’re about to sit down and do our year-end number crunching. I’m hoping we show a profit on the pigs, but I’m not expecting much. Selfishly I want the numbers to justify us continuing to raise them.

      Like

  8. Rob says:

    Do you have the bacon cured? If yes, is it cured the typical industrial way or a different way?

    Like

  9. Dearest Bill,
    That is quite a story about how it came to those full freezers with quality pork meat!
    It makes a huge difference the way you raised them and it looks like a quality job all the way till the end. For those that don’t need to heed their cholesterol intake, it is a joy to eat!
    I remember too well how good those pork tenderloins tasted when Mom prepared them for us after we slaughtered a pig in November. That was how big families survived winter! We did dip our bread in the hot drippings of fried bacon and it run over our chin. But we walked it all off going to school twice a day back and forth as the Dutch still have a long lunch break, not like the all day school here in the USA.
    Fond memories!
    Enjoy the fruits of your hard labor and happy ending of 2015!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Back in my childhood we slaughtered pigs when the weather turned cold, because it was done outside. When we started raising pigs here on the farm I just assumed we’d process them in November, because that’s when it’s done. Eventually it dawned on me that the time of year doesn’t matter anymore, now that it’s done inside at a “processor.” Some people still do their own processing (the modern euphemism) on farm, but they’re rare.

      A very Happy New Year to you Mariette!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s