This post is all about our PIGS. The oinkers. Piggeroos. The meat torpedoes. I want to take a minute to go into a bit of depth about how they've been faring thus far on the old vineyard, how it's been so far for us as farmers, and how the land seems to be responding to the intermittent bursts of livestock pressure. Keep reading until the end to get more information about purchasing some of our pastured pork!
First of all, despite the rocky first day that we had with the pigs, they have been an absolute joy to keep. They are friendly, docile, and most surprisingly, they're funny. They are a hoot to watch! I'm sure that a more conventional setup (read: not given room to roam out on pasture) still has some of these little joys, but I can't help but to think that seeing them run and play and then stretch out in the sunshine for a nap is directly correlated to our pasture-based system. They seem genuinely happy, and definitely healthy!
As far as the vineyard is concerned, they are definitely leaving their mark as we graze them mindfully over the landscape. Below are a few progress pictures to illustrate exactly what the pigs are doing to the vineyard as they go:
^ This is a fresh paddock that the pigs have only had access to for a few minutes. Notice how you can clearly see the undulating landscape left behind from the old vineyard.
^This is a paddock that the pigs had been on for about a week. The topsoil has been disturbed, but the pigs were not left in this spot long enough to turn the soil into hardpan.
^ This is an old paddock that has been allowed to rest after pig pressure for a little over a month. The landscape is flatter and there is plenty of new grass springing up from the soil that has been disturbed/fertilized/aerated by the pigs. It's pretty awesome to see!
We have noticed that they are not mowing down the now-feral grapevines quite as thoroughly as we had hoped, but after a couple of seasons and larger groups of pigs, there should be a significant impact on the overall health of the pasture. That said, the large, mounded rows that the old vines were previously planted into are definitely being impacted! Each paddock seems to be a bit more level with every pass of the pigs. Again, after a couple of seasons of carefully monitored pig pressure, I think we are going to see some really positive results on the landscape and soil/forage quality.
Over the past couple of months, we have fielded the two following questions pretty consistently from friends, family, and customers alike:
Q: Are the pigs 100% grass-fed?
A: They are not. While a good portion of their diet comes from whatever they can forage from the pasture, we still supplement with a high-quality, non-GMO, organic feed that we source from a local merchant. We have heard of other pastured pork operations running their pigs on minimal/extremely limited feed, but that is just not in the cards for us at this point.
Q: Have you sold all of the pigs yet?
A: Not officially! The pigs are all spoken for via word-of-mouth, but we have yet to collect deposits on them. Over the next week or so, we will be reaching out to the folks who have expressed interest in reserving a pig to collect deposits, and we will be marketing to the public in the event that someone backs out. After crunching the numbers, we will be asking $5/lb live weight for a whole hog and $5.50/lb for half. We are asking $200 and $100 for deposits on whole and half hogs respectively. At this point, we are only selling in bulk, though we do plan to have our processor do some retail cuts in the near future.
If you are interested in purchasing a whole or half pig from this batch, please don't hesitate to reach out. All of our contact information can be found on our website. At the very least, we can put you on a wait-list for the next batch of pigs that we plan to have ready to go in the spring of 2022, which will be here before we know it!
We hope you are all enjoying this wonderfully busy season!
All the best,