Momma pig had her babies this morning!
Momma pig had her babies this morning!
San Francisco – Now you can purchase our delicious Berkshire pork through Good Eggs!
Good Eggs is bringing local groceries right to you. Order online from the best local farmers & foodmakers, and your groceries will be picked and prepped to order. We’ll aggregate, pack and deliver your goods to your door—or you can pick them up free at lots of convenient locations around the Bay Area.
Our pork shares are roughly 1/5 of a pig or 25 lb. +/- of mixed cuts. They are the same Smoked Berk Shares and Fresh Berk Shares that are available to local residents of Mendocino County. All the details on how awesome the pork is, our ranching practices, and what’s in the share is on our Pork Page. The only difference is the price, as we are using Good Eggs to market the shares in San Francisco, and we have to deliver the meat.
Even though vegetable production is at a near stand-still, we still manage to get pretty dirty around the home ranch and farms. In raising animals, we have daily chores, such as feeding, watering, and general check-in – checking that ewes are taking care of newborn lambs, ravens are not bothering our pigs, making sure the few cows we have are still happy out in the rangeland, and so forth.
If you’ve been keeping abreast of our farm development, you know we are striving to be a self-sustaining farm, creating all the fertility for the crops on the farm and importing as little feed as possible. These goals express both environmental/biological sustainability and economic efficiency.
So, we are increasing pork production, which entails feeding more pigs. We aren’t at the point where we can grow all the feed we need yet, so we acquire local and organic sources of feed. Right now, we have wheat and rye growing in Ukiah; cross your fingers that we get a good crop! Depending on what’s available, the kind of grain we use varies. Right now, we’re going through triticale from Lake County, which we know was grown with organic practices. We also purchased some wheat – too infested with bugs for human consumption – grown in Humboldt County. Most of this cereal goodness, we grind down for easier digestion by our pigs. We use a grinder we got from the old Moore’s Flour Mill in Ukiah, but we’d eventually like to upgrade to something that can grind whole corn.
Does anyone else find him/herself eating a lot more now that the cool season is here? Storing up for winter and enjoying heavier comfort foods like sausage and pie? The short days and cold nights are doing that to us farmers. With the main season behind us, we’re in the kitchen a lot more and enjoying it! We hope you are too
(By the way, we just delivered more of our heritage sausage to Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op. You can find it in the frozen meat section.)
With the recent wetness and current sunny warmth, the rangeland is just barely starting to turn green! We welcome this landscape change in color – it means that there will be food in the hills soon for our sheep and cows.
We recently ringed (rung?) our 33 pigs who are also enjoying the hillside views and October sunshine. As they are growing, they are eating a lot now! Along with organic pig grower feed (corn and soy), we’re sprouting triticale which we purchased from the Willits Grange Grains. Before long, we’ll also be sprouting the barley we grew in Ukiah. Sprouted grain is easier for the pigs to digest.
So that we won’t have to buy so much feed for our pigs in the future, we’ll be growing more grain this winter. We were looking at buying land in south Ukiah to possibly grow grain and other higher-value crops but then decided against it. Then we waited…and the City of Ukiah purchased it. And then we were able to lease it, which is what we really wanted to do in the first place! This land tenure is not secure by any means, but the outlook looks good in that we don’t see the city developing the land anytime soon. Most of the grain we’ll be growing will be for feed, but we do plan on growing a couple varieties of wheat for human consumption. We’ll be working the ground very soon, and by June or July next year, hopefully we’ll have a bountiful harvest!
We’re now taking reservations for our delicious Holiday Hams!
Raised on pasture, organic feed, and vegetable waste from our fields, our Hampshire-Duroc pigs will make tasty hams for your holiday meal with friends and family. Hams are smoked and cured with natural nitrates. Reserve one today for Christmas or New Year’s!
Send in a $10 deposit with an order form: Holiday Ham Flier 2011
Farming is like dancing – there are slow dances and fast jigs and every pace in between. We’re at another hurried hustle this time of year. Summer crops like tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers are giving bloated harvests that call for routine attention.
Yet under the guise of bounty, nature is slowly inching toward the quieter time of the year – fall and eventually winter – when crops slow down and the land lays still. So we are simultaneously prepping the ground and planting cool weather crops (those biennials like broccoli, lettuce and carrots) and preserving summer’s warm wealth in curing, pickling, making sauce and making sauerkraut.
With the higher food output this year, we’re also striving to consistently provide for markets we haven’t worked with regularly in the past, like Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op and Ukiah Brewing Company and Restaurant. We’re also finding that the markets and nearby restaurants can’t absorb all that we are producing, and CSAs are not in high demand here, so much of our food is shipping to the Bay Area. Hopefully, we are serving our community not just with our food but by bringing outside revenue in during these challenging economic times.
As busy as we have been expanding farm production this year, we haven’t had much time to write about the process here. But, we’ve been striving to document with photos the daily work we do to grow as much nutritious, flavorful food as possible. Part of the process has been spending money. As they say, you have to spend money to make money. This season alone, we’ve acquired many tools to help us grow more food so it’s more affordable to buy and so that we don’t strain our bodies:
The shopping list goes on, and that’s only major capital investments. Fortunately, we don’t always have to buy things outright. Other farmers are lending us equipment or letting us make payments. A community of growers is so essential particularly when when you start out with nothing.
We’re also raising another round of pigs that will be ready in time for the holidays. Not only is pork really tasty, but our pigs will happily eat vegetable culls or whatever does not sell at the farmers market. Heritage Berkshire pork is delicious, so we’re definitely raising those pigs again!
We also bought a few more ewes and lambs to increase our sheep flock. Hopefully by the end of this season, we’ll have about 100 ewes. Our new Shropshire ram, Macho, should be getting familiar with the ladies now…
So, we continue to refine our farming system – doing trials of different crops to see what we can grow well, trying new feed rations and growing better hay and pasture for cost-effective yet delicious meat, fine-tuning all the mechanical processes, and improving relationships with all our customers. We’re very excited to be growing a lot more food this year. It’s a challenge, but the hard work is rewarding when we are able to partner with nature and people to nourish ourselves and our community.
Our pigs come from a breeder registered with the American Berkshire Association, so you can be sure that you’re getting the real, delicious deal! Check out our Pork page for more details, or download a brochure.