We had a great litter of piglets born this week. Laura and I went on an overnight camping trip with the girls to a nearby lake to celebrate 14 years of marriage. While gone, one of our sows had her piglets. Luckily, Grandpa was dutifully watching the farm and took care of everything. Saturn, mama sow, had 8 piglets that survived the birth and they are doing great.
We did have a sad emergency on Sunday -- day 3. One of the piglets had a small wound on its side that had opened up its abdominal cavity and organs that are supposed to be on the inside of its body were hanging out on the outside. It was walking around like nothing had really happened. We decided to give this little fella as much of a chance of survival as possible. So I brought the piglet inside, calling for Laura to come help. We laid our new baby piglet out on the counter and began the delicate work of carefully cleaning each square millimeter of tissue to ensure what we put back inside was what came out -- with no extra dirt or other foreign substances. After we had it all cleaned up, we began the process of gently trying to push the insides in a hole way too small. How did they ever come out? During this process, a good friend and neighbor stopped by. This was fortuitous because she had some experience as a vet assistant and was a very nice gentle set of hands to work alongside with. After getting everything put back in, we sewed him up and laid him in a basket to be safe, rest and heal. Sadly, he only lived about 1 hour after the surgery, but passed away peacefully. The shock of the event ended up being too much for his body to handle.
Some people would be surprised to see the care and sacrifice we give to our animals. The very animals we know later we will be eating for dinner. The truth is, it's about respect. We strive to make every day up until the very last day the very best for that animal it can be. Sometimes that means doing surgery on the kitchen counter.
A lot goes into creating our hams. It starts, of course, with the pig. We raise our pigs outside, on grass in pastures that are rotated every fourteen days to ensure a clean, healthy environment for the pigs. The pigs we raise thrive in this pasture based method because of their rare Heritage genetics that have changed little for hundreds of years. Large Black Hogs are known for their ability to convert pasture forage into gourmet meat.
Next is the feed the pigs receive. In addition to natural forages they get from the pasture, they are also fed hundreds of gallons of whey from a local, organic dairy, thousands of pounds of apple pomace from a local cider mill, thousands of organic sweet potatoes from another local farm and a nutritious mix of organic grains. This diverse diet provides a complex and delicious flavor profile to the meat that makes our hams incredibly special.
The last step is the curing of the ham. Ours is cured by the award winning meat artisans at Paradise Meats in Trimble, Missouri. They start with a Maple Sugar brine in which the ham is soaked before getting smoked to infuse a sweet, savory flavor. The hams are just the right amount of sweet deliciousness without being overly flavored to cover up the fantastic pork. The ham is fully cooked, so will only need to be reheated and served.
We would be honored to share one of our hams with you. Just reply to this email and let us know what size works best for you. They range from 3 - 9 pounds and are just $10.75 per pound. They are available for pick-up from the farm by appointment or we would be happy to bring one up to the city for you.
Our deliveries this week are:
Wednesday, March 23rd
3:45 91st and Metcalf
4:30 95th and I35
5:30-6 Bulk it in old Lenexa
Thursday, March 24th
4:15 151st and 69 hwy
5:00 151st and 69 hwy
Our hams taste FANTASTIC. They are pre-cooked, Maple Sugar cured, and smoked. It is a three week process to slow cure the hams to perfection. They would make an elegant and delicious centerpiece for your Easter family meal.
Our pigs are Special - They are a rare Heritage breed, Large Black. Once upon a time, they were one of the most popular pigs raised on thousands of small farms. They were revered for their ability to convert forage and natural foods into the most delicious pork. However, when the economics of food changed to favor cheap food grown intensively indoors, Large Blacks lost favor. There are now fewer than 500 breeding sows in the United States. We are helping their comeback and so are our customers that are once again valuing them for their AMAZING pork.
Our Farm is Special - We treat our pigs very differently than most farms. We honor the pigginess of the pig and allow them a natural life. We have found, that by honoring them as pigs, they reward us by helping our land while growing healthy and strong. We don't just raise them outside, we raise them in woodlots and pastures. These paddocks are rotated every couple weeks to ensure they are fresh and with rest, will be ready for the pigs to return in a year or so.
Their Diet is Special - The pigs find an incredible amount of their diet in our woods and pastures. They find nuts and roots and berries, they chomp on grass, and even eat the bark of trees that are rotting away. We supplement their foraging with other natural foods. We search out and offer seasonal surpluses such as 1000's of pounds of pumpkins, truckloads of acorns, hundreds of pounds of organic sweet potatoes, and many tons of apples. Additionally, they have free choice whey from a local dairy and vegetable surplus from local organic grocery stores. Sourcing all of this local and nutritional food takes an immense amount of time. However, the flavor of pork is affected dramatically by the food they eat. That's why we work hard to provide a lot of diversity to their diet, so you get a rich, complex flavor in your pork.
Their Butchering is Special - We use the best butcher in the area, Paradise Meats in Trimble, MO. The butchering is crucial anytime you are dealing with meat. However, it is infinitely more important when dealing with cured meats. This is when the butcher becomes a chef. The Fantasma family uses traditional recipes to cure their smoked maple-cured hams.
Email or call to reserve your ham today. We will be delivering to the Kansas City area on Wednesday, March 23rd and Thursday, March 24th.
One big job that was completed was we moved a bunch of next year's layers out to the pasture flock. These were chicks that we hatched this fall and had been living with our front yard girls until they were old enough to start working in the pastures. Combining groups of chickens always involves a 'getting to know you' phase of the two groups. Although chickens can be somewhat resistant to making new friends -- we have found when given the right amount of space, they do just fine. Pecking order needs to be established, but that can be done fairly quickly and then they act just like a flock that's always been together.
Another job that got done was building a new paddock and moving our breeding pigs into that pasture. We keep our boy and girls separate and only put our breeding stock together when we want to have piglets. Today, we put our two sows and boar together. This should lead to piglets in June sometime. Pig gestation time is 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours. Large Blacks typically have 8-10 piglets in a litter. You might want to set aside sometime to come visit the farm in late June to see some cute piglets!