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Little’s Fate: even a used up boar is useful

mature boar, pasture raised heritage pork

What do you do with a mature boar pig?  (“Boar” meaning an intact, fully functional male as opposed to the breed of pig.) We have met people who claim they taste good, but our experience has been that they have a smell and taste that is…well…unappealing.  “Boar taint” is the term for that unsavory taste, and it comes from the testosterone in an intact male.  Cows, goats, and sheep don’t seem to have the same problem, but pigs do.

So, our options were:

  1. Sell him.  (We tried.  No one wanted him.)
  2. Take him to the sale barn.  (We would get less for him than the cost of the gas to haul him, and he’d likely go to slaughter anyway.)
  3. Castrate him, wait 2-4 months, then harvest him.  (We did that once.  One boar got infected and died.  The other one turned into a massive couch potato, lost the “taint,” and made fabulous steaks.  But the process was traumatic, and with only a 50% success rate, we didn’t feel it was a great option.)
  4. Shoot him and bury him.  (Not the best use of resources and a waste of his life in our farm system.)
  5. Make a heck of a lot of raw dog food.

We chose option 5.  The dogs don’t mind the taint, the raw food is good for them, and it gives purpose to the boar right to the end.  Plus, our son got a chance to learn some more about harvesting hogs.

Here is Mark’s commentary:

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Fall pigs: why now is the time to get your hog!

Pasture raised heritage breed Mangalitsa pigs: sow and piglets

Way back when, long ago, in the mists of time, the folks who homesteaded the land had hogs.  Fat hogs.  Hardy hogs.  Hogs that didn’t need a lot of pampering and could live off the land.  Even in the fall, going into winter, there were no worries about taking care of the pigs.  Once it froze and the grasses finished curing and the flies disappeared, it was time to process the fat pigs and wean the little pigs for next year.

Welcome to the world of the Mangalitsa.  These guys are heritage pigs that thrive on heritage living.  They don’t fear the cold of winter.  They can thrive on a variety of feeds.  The sows take care of their young well.  In fact, the whole herd watches out for the young.  The other day two sows, one with piglets, gave me a  hard time when I went into look at them.  Then I realized the puppy had followed me in.  They didn’t appreciate her presence!  The Mangalitsa is the ultimate homestead hog for our farm.

You can get your own piece of heritage today! Fall is a fine time to start your Mangalitsa for next year.

  • For one thing, there’s not as much competition, so prices are lower.
  • Also, they grow fine on the extra veggies and other feeds you can scrounge. We feed hay, meat scraps, household scraps (the old “slop bucket”), apples, and root crops.
  • Due to their heritage genetics, they don’t need you to break the ice in the waterer.  If there’s snow, they are set.  (That flies in the face of common thought, but we’ve proven it.  Nature rarely provides running water in the winter and these guys are still adapted to survive.)
  • They do need shelter and bedding, but a hut and a bale of straw will suffice.  They don’t need a heaeted barn.
  • In the spring they’ll grow exponentially and be ready to butcher before you know it!  The yield of rich red meat and creamy lard will be worth the wait.

Check out these posts to see how the Mangalitsas have performed at Baker’s Green Acres:

Pigs and Cute

Fill Your Freezer

Pig Breed Comparison

Now’s the time to get your Baker’s Green Acres heritage hog for next year!  Check with us for fall specials on weaner pigs, half grown feeder pigs, and breeding stock.

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Integrity Matters: know or learn to be your farmer

Keith moving beyond organic whole chickens on grass in chicken tractors on pasture.

“Trust is the combination of intelligence and integrity.”

“Husbandry, which is not replaceable by science, nevertheless uses science, and corrects it too. It is the more comprehensive discipline. To reduce husbandry to science, in practice, is to transform agricultural “wastes” into pollutants, and to subtract perennials and grazing animals from the rotation of crops. Without husbandry, the agriculture of science and industry has served too well the purpose of the industrial economy in reducing the number of landowners and the self-employed. It has transformed the United States from a country of many owners to a country of many employees.” ~Wendell Berry

This summer has been a new venture in food for us.  We are redesigning our business model.  We are assessing what’s important and what we can do without or outsource.  We are seeking to keep our business and life in integrity with our personal values and choices.  We increasingly find that there are aspects of where we live in the midst of big agriculture country are out of integrity with how we want to live.  The land, it’s soil, grasses, trees, and waters, are part of our lives.  They are a collective to be collaborated with, not brought into submission.  That’s been our approach to how we raise our food, be it squash or chicken, apples or pigs.  #IntegrityMatters.

Farming with the season is part of that integrity.  As we transition from summer to fall, we move out of chicken season and into pig season.  Chicken is a “cooling meat.”  It’s light and doesn’t tax a digestive system that is getting plenty of nourishment from the abundent veggies of summer. Grass fed poultry is full of the  nutrients of grass and contain a balance of Omega-3’s and 6’s as well as lots of vitamins A and E.  They aren’t so high in the vitamins so plentiful in the rich, dark veggies summer provides us.  As the grasses get frosted and the natural grains ripen, the grazing animals come ready for harvest.  The nutrition in the grasses goes to the roots, the animals harvest the grains, and the cold drives the animals’ fat into the muscles in preparation for winter.  The dry grasses help to dry out the fat, making it more storable and dense, Rrich with the stored nutrients of summer.  Fall and early winter are the time for harvesting these animals.  Historically, the flies were gone and the pastures done for the season at animal harvest time.  The crisp chill of fall would cool the carcasses of the pigs and cows so they could be processed.  This would be winter meat.  The rich red meat would help provide the iron and other vitamins and minerals lacking in the veggies of winter.  The seasons worked together and the farmer collaborated to make the most of what nature offered.

Now is the time to get your whole or half hog spoken for.  We are planning for our fall harvest as we look at the frost on the fields in the mornings and break out the sweatshirts and vests in the mornings and evenings.  We don’t have to worry about flies so much thanks to the wonders of refrigeration and fly spray, but it’s time to start thinking of hog harvest.

The Homestead Hog Harvest class is coming up in November.  There is still room for you!  This is a great weekend to experience the magic that happens when hogs are harvested with integrity and care–and you can take that skill set home with you!  From field to freezer, you can harvest a hog, or at least have the experience of doing it.  PLUS, you get to take some fabulous Mangalitsa pork home with you.

Integrity matters.  Know your farmer.  Anyone can farm!

Check out these articles for more farm philosophy:

Hay and Philosophy

Pasture (Grass) plus Chickens: goodness to share

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What’s for dinner: a whole chicken turns into oven fried chicken

So, you know cooking with REAL food is good for your health and tastes better, but, golly, it’s so much more expensive!  Well, I have a long answer to that involving health care dollars, environmental costs, human welfare costs (immigration issues, migrant workers, sharecropping farmers).  But, what I’m going to show you today is how to turn a $16 whole chicken into $25 worth of chicken parts, along with one of our family’s favorite recipes.  Anyone who’s been to a Homestead Hog Harvest class and cooked with me knows I’m not so much of a recipe person, but I’ve reconstructed it below, along with my suggested alterations.

Oven Fried Chicken: Gluten Free

This is an easy, healthful way to make a classic favorite. 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Mark & Jill Baker
Ingredients
  • 3.5-4.0 pound Pasture raised whole chicken
  • 1.5 cups ground millet or millet flour
  • 2 tsp. mineral sea salt: Himalayan pink salt or Real Salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic: fresh or dried
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and/or sage (optional)
  • fat to cover pan bottom: bacon fat, lard, butter, sesame oil, grapeseed oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Combine flour or meal, salt, pepper, and spices in a gallon size plastic bag.  Shake well. 

  3. Cut whole chicken into serving pieces.

  4. Place chicken pieces into bag, seal, and shake well to coat the chicken thoroughly.  Set aside while you prep the pan.

  5. Put enough fat (Mangalitsa lard, butter, sesame oil, or grapeseed oil) in a 9x13 pan so that it is about 1/8 - 1/4 inch deep.  Place in oven to melt the fat if using a solid one.

  6. One by one, dredge the chicken in the fat, skin side down.  Set into pan skin side up for baking.  If there's a little fat in the bottom of the pan when you're done, it's ok.

  7. Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, until the skin is crispy brown and the juices run clear when you poke a piece of chicken. 

  8. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Other options for the flour: corn meal, almond meal, wheat flour (it's no longer gluten free, but it'll work).

Feel free to adjust the salt and spices to taste.  We like lots of salt and garlic, so I add more of that.  The spices I use depend on the mood of the evening. Experiment with new ones, like parsley, basil, fennel, and corriander for a more Mediterranean taste.

Spices are a great way to add more nutrition and more variety to your diet.  Walk on the wild side and try adding one new one a week, or play with different combinations.  This recipe is very accommodating that way.

DO NOT use olive oil.  The ones mentioned are healthy for you and stand up under the heat of cooking.  Olive oil breaks down and goes rancid when heated.  It's great for raw foods and salads, not so much for cooking.