The Sun Rises on the Broiler Chickens
This batch of chickens (75, in all) arrived at the beginning of February. They spent 3 weeks in the brooder and then we moved them out to pasture in their chicken tractor, which we move every day. They’ve been out here since, eating weeds, bugs, and whatever else is available. We ran them over the area that will be our 3 sisters garden to lay down some grade-A fertilizer, and now they’re fertilizing the grapevines for us. They do really good work, as all they do all day is eat, sleep, and fertilize!
This batch was also fed conventional feed. We haven’t found a new provider of organic, soy-free food yet, so we have to make do with what’s available.
They have grown well, though. Check these guys out! We process them the first week of April (starting THIS weekend) so if you want any, let us know. Also, if you want them cut up, instead of whole, let us know early, before we get them in the freezer. You can pick them up fresh on the day of processing or frozen starting a few days after.
Call or text us at (910) 484-3720 or email us, if you prefer.
In the last post we discussed how much it will cost to pay the processor to butcher your pig.
In this post, we’ll finally talk about the different cuts of meat and what you can ask for and expect from the butcher.
How A Hog is Cut
There is a wealth of information available on the many different cuts of pork and how they are produced.
So, You Ordered A Pig, Now What?
In Part 1 of this post, we discussed the options available for processors. In this part, we’ll look at how much it costs to buy a pig and have it processed.
If you ordered a pastured pig from High Grace Farm, you were required to pay a deposit while you wait for it to be butchered. There are 2 reasons for that.
First, it seems unlikely, but some customers have ordered a hog before and then have never responded when the time came to pay for it and send it to the butcher. I know, hard to believe, right?
Also, your pig was already at market weight (around 240 pounds) when you bought it, but it still has to be fed while it waits for its special day! It’s your pig, we ask you to help pay for the cost of feeding it.
Since the wait time is long right now, your hog is still continuing to grow. We feed only a maintenance ration so it is not growing as much as it would, but it still grows. Because of the long wait time to get an appointment at the butcher, the hog you bought at 240 or 250 pounds could be substantially bigger by time it gets to the processor. That won’t affect the price you paid for it, but it will affect how much it will cost to have it processed.
How Much Will I Have to Pay the Processor
If you’ve ordered a whole hog or half of a hog from High Grace Farm, and are waiting to have it processed, you’re in for a treat. I’m always excited to take a hog in to the processor, order the specific cuts I want, and come back a few days later to pick up some of the freshest, most delicious pork I could hope for. Our heritage breed, pastured pigs yield a delicious, rich, moist pork that is much different from the lean, dry pork marketed as “the other white meat.”
If you’ve never bought a hog before and had it butchered to your specifications, you may have some questions about what to expect. In this post, I’ll try to answer some of the questions I had the first few times I did this, and some of the questions others have asked when they processed the pork they bought from us. It is a long post with a lot of information, so I’ll break it up into several posts.
If you don’t want to read through the whole thing, use these links to jump to your particular question.
Who Butchers My Pig?
“Back in the day…”
Grace and Faith sometimes roll their eyes when I start to tell stories about the good old days, when things were done differently, and usually better. But, back in the day, in this area of Stedman and Fayetteville North Carolina, local farmers raised hogs on pasture and then processed them for pork in the fall of the year.
In late fall–November and December–the chilly air was just right to aid in what was a large task. Butchering and cutting pork is not an easy job. At that time of year, many of the other harvest tasks had been completed and families or neighbors would have more time to get together to butcher hogs. A killing frost would have taken care of any flies or other insects that could spread disease and spoil the meat.
Well, the local raw honey is probably still available, because it doesn’t seem to last long once we put the word out.
As many of you know, our friend, neighbor, mentor and partner-in-a-few-things, Mr. Sam has 20 or so bee hives. He just started slinging honey from them for the fall. So far, he’s harvested about 16 gallons, or 120 pints. He still has more to do, but what he has already harvested is jarred and ready.
Local raw honey is a wonder product. It has so many health benefits and first aid properties, and it’s an absolute dream to bake with. In our family, we use it in bread recipes, we put it on cuts and scrapes, we seep onions in it as a cough suppressant, we use it as an antibiotic, which was very successful when our youngest contracted impetigo. Although our doctor had prescribed an antibiotic, we weren’t comfortable with the idea of the possible side effects. Honey did the job over the course of a week or so.
Our fall batch of broiler chickens arrived 2 weeks ago.
Peepers! (Now you know why those marshmallow things are called what they’re called!)
We pasture raise 2 or 3 batches of broilers each year for ourselves and our customers. So far, we’ve only raised the Jumbo Cornish Cross breed of broiler, and have been satisfied with the results. They grow from chick to butchering size in 8 to 10 weeks, depending on the season and the quality of their feed.
Eggs, we got!
Lots of eggs. About 2 dozen eggs a day! Farm fresh eggs, pasture-raised, and did I mention, we’ve got lots of eggs.
When we moved to our farm, the first animals we added were our laying chickens. We didn’t know anything about chickens, our how to raise them, or their needs. We were such rookies, but we knew 2 things: we wanted to pasture raise our chickens, feeding them naturally as much as possible; and we wanted to be able to move them around instead of raising them in one area.
There is nothing we enjoy as much as having our friends visit us. It gives us a chance to cook and
show off share the pasture-raised meats and fresh produce from our farm. And after all, we were foodies before we were ever farmers. To be totally truthful, it’s also a real benefit when our guests pitch in with the chores. What’s repetitive for us is new and exciting for them, and that can be like a breath of fresh air in the midst of our tedious daily work.
Over the Labor Day weekend, our good friends, Solomon and Kim Jagwe and their children, visited us from Washington DC. Solomon is an artist, whose photographs and graphic design are all over this website, and Kim is a teacher. We did more than our fair share of eating and we (mostly, Dana) spent a whole lot of time preaching about the benefits of pastured pork and chicken.