The farm has been relatively quiet lately but we know it is just the calm before the storm. As the snow melts and the temperature rises, we are now in full planning mode for the coming season. We had been planning on getting more pigs for this upcoming season but they were available a bit sooner than we had expected...which means we'll have fresh pork sooner!!
About a month ago we bought eight Large Black, Berkshire cross piglets. We put them in the loafing shed and made them a nest of hay so they can cuddle up to each other for warmth. All eight of the piglets came to us looking so healthy and they are so fun to watch! They run in and out of the cows' legs and seem to be having a great time in the snow and compost piles.
The Large Black is a critically endangered heritage breed as of today. A heritage breed is a breed of animal that was revered by farmers in the past. Since we now rely on industrial agriculture, where only specialized breeds are used, many of the non-commercially used breeds have disappeared along with precious genetic diversity. Now the term "heritage" is used to refer to such animals.
Here on our farm we are trying to bring back some of the genetic diversity that used to be commonplace on American farms. Eating these animals ensures that people will breed more of them. We need to eat them to save them! Isn't that ironic?
The Large Black breed is known as a docile, easy to keep hog that can forage for much of their nutrition on their own. Because we are a pasture based farm, these pigs fit in perfectly to the mix. These natural foragers will take well to the woodland/pasture landscape that will be their home come spring.
Because these animals forage for much of their diet, the flavor of the meat is completely different from factory-farmed pork. The meat is darker, meatier, and much more tender than your typical pork. Chris and I recently ate some pork chops from last season's pigs who were out on pasture and consumed copius amounts of acorns. The meat was the best that I had ever tasted and not at all dry. We were so amazed by the difference and can't wait to taste this year's pork!