Winter 2018

February 4, 2018

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Winter 2018, mild, mostly frozen, animals and people doing well.  Above is one of the hogs exploring, and below are some of the cattle resting on their bedding pack, with hogs exploring at the left of the frame.

I wrote that last week.  Winter has decided to come back hard in February, with below zero wind chills and several inches of snow last night, February 3rd.

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Thank you to everyone who has purchased meat, or boxes, or halves, this winter.  Your business is appreciated.

I added several new products, (Brats-links and patties, Breakfast sausage patties, Cottage Bacon, Canadian Bacon, Ham Hocks).

I also tweaked the Classic Pork boxes.  Check them out and let me know if something interests you.

 

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I am farrowing several litters in one of the hoop barns with farrowing huts.  The sows get to choose which hut to farrow in, and also make their own nest inside the huts.

When it is this cold, I never have any trouble with a sow choosing to farrow outside of a hut, which can be a problem in the warmer months of the year.

I haven’t lost many piglets, even though its been colder than I would prefer, (below 20 F).

Except for one very big Landrace sow who chose to carry way too much bedding into her hut and farrowed on a very cold night.  All her piglets died.  My theory is whereas the other sows made a nest with at least a little room for the piglets to nurse, see photo below, this sow was so big with so much bedding, the piglets were simply unable to start nursing due to lack of room.

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Pork Carcass Breakdown: What to Expect

May 3, 2009

You want to buy pork, in bulk, direct from a farmer.  What should you expect?  Here is a link to pork carcass cutout charts.

Pork carcasses are usually sold as whole or half carcasses.  Traditionally, there are more cured and smoked products in a pork carcass resulting in a greater butchering cost when compared to beef.  I will detail a hog we butchered recently with butchering costs.

Description Weight Price Amount
Processing 172 lbs. $.45 $77.40
Cooling & Offal Pickup 172 lbs. $.22 $37.84
Hams 44 lbs. $.40 $17.60
Slicing Bacon 16 lbs. $.60 $9.60
Rolled shoulder 25 lbs. $.25 $6.25
Sausage Links 14 lbs. $.85 $11.90
Spare Ribs 10 lbs.    
Pork Chops 30 lbs.    

 

The total weight of the pork we took home was 139 lbs.  Some of the pork was lost as bones and other waste.  Pork carcasses will vary of course.  The amount of take-home pork will also vary based on the amount of processing, (i.e. deboning, etc.), you choose.

Based on $172 to the farmer and $160.59 to the butcher, the total cost is $332.59.  Divided by a take-home weight of 139 lbs., cost per lb. is $2.39.

Comment or email if you have questions.


Contest Results

March 22, 2009

I am happy to announce the winners of the Contest.  They will be receiving a Curiousfarmer meat sampler package.  Eat the contents of this package and similar foods for six weeks.  Your cholesterol is guaranteed to double.

Total Cholesterol:  433.  Rebecca predicted 262

HDL, good cholesterol:  106.  Adam predicted 90

LDL, bad cholesterol:  318.  Elvis predicted 180

Triglycerides:  44.  Jane predicted 48

Uric acid:  4.7.  Ray predicted 4.9

BUN:  25.  Dr. Solverson predicted 24

Creatinine:  .98  Jane predicted .98

Congratulations to the winners.  You will be receiving an email so I can get your mailing address to send you the meat.

One other test result which I hadn’t listed is Glucose.  The value at the start was 85.  The value at the end was 112.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this?  I appreciate your thoughtful comments.  Thank you.


Meat Diet: Test Results

March 17, 2009

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I want an open-casket wake because as Billy Crystal used to say, “I look mahvelous!”   My cholesterol went through the roof.  I haven’t had a chance to talk to my Dr. yet to see how serious the situation is.  I feel great.  Weigh in with your opinions.  Am I healthy, or knockin’ on heaven’s door?

Total Cholesterol:  225 start to 433

HDL good Cholesterol:  76 start to 106

LDL bad Cholesterol:  140 start to 318

Triglycerides:  43 start to 44

Uric acid:  3.9 start to 4.7

BUN:  14 start to 25

Creatinine:  .89 start to .98

I need time to digest these numbers before I write a conclusion to the meat diet. I will also post the winners of the contest by this weekend.  I am going on a short vacation.  Peace.  Matthew


Meat Diet: Observations

March 16, 2009

Can a person survive on meat and eggs for six weeks?  Yes!  The “meat diet” is finished.  Thank you for your interest and encouragement. 

I will be fasting tonight, drawing blood tomorrow morning, and posting the results by Tuesday evening if all goes as planned.

Until then, here are my observations:

Diet:  Red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, coffee, tea, water.  This is a high fat/saturated fat, moderate protein, very low to no carb diet.

Age:  39 years.

Weight lost:  15 lbs. 166 lbs. beginning weight, 151 lbs. ending weight.   After initial 5 lbs. water loss in first two days, lost about 1.5 lbs. per week.  Weights are taken first thing in the morning.

Body fat at 153 lbs.:  15.6% body fat. 

Circumference measurements at 153 lbs.:  upper arm 12.25″, chest 34.5″, hip 36.25″, abdominal 32.5″, thigh 20″.

Food:  Most cooked on “George Foreman grill.”  No condiments used so as to avoid carbs.

Hunger:  Nothing excessive, less than usual.  Craved variety.  Enjoyed organ meats for the first time in my life.  Ate meat more rare.  Began eating the external fat on steaks.  Had difficulty eating lean meat such as chicken breast.

Amount eaten:  Ate until I was full, but, important to note, I always felt I could have eaten carbs with my meal and would have taken dessert if I could have.

Bowel function:  Less regular, 5 times per week, very dark, never constipated, loose stool 4 times over the six weeks.

Teeth:  More calculus formation.  Bacteria in mouth must have changed.  I brush 3 times per day.

Allergies:  Less, clearer nasal passages.

Exercise:  Walking, farming, played basketball twice.

Energy:  More even, always had enough.

Emotions:  More even.

Mental function:  No change noted.  Writing more than ever.

I plan to introduce carbs back into my diet slowly beginning tomorrow.  I will start a new diet journal to document the amount of carbs eaten and corresponding weight change.

If my blood work is not extremely negative I will stay on a modified version of this diet for the next year and will retest my blood February 2010, God willing.


Backyard Food

March 12, 2009

Do you have a backyard?  Do you do anything with it besides maintain a lawn?  Home-gardening is increasing.  It is rewarding to grow your own food.  Have you ever thought about growing something that moves?

A young guy and his mom visited me yesterday.  They live near Madison on a small acreage.   They are interested in starting pig production.  I envy them for how much fun they are about to have.  There is nothing quite like beginning animal husbandry.

They plan to buy three feeder pigs in May and butcher them in November.  They will be backyard pig-raising experts by December. 

The increased level of serotonin in their brains from this accelerated learning and human-animal interaction will cause them to remember 2009 as a great year.  The year of the PIG.

I am excited by anyone willing to grow their own food.  There is a back-to-the-land movement.  Sometimes it’s happening inside city limits.  Madison passed an ordinance allowing people to keep a backyard flock of chickens.  The people responsible for this even have their own organization, “Mad City Chickens.”

Are you expanding your backyard food production?  Is 2009 the year you start?


Grass-Finished Beef: Closer Than You Think

March 10, 2009

Are you having a difficult time finding grass-finished beef?  Are you a producer, unsure of how to produce grass-finished beef?  There is a good chance you have seen excellent-quality grass-finished beef but were unable to recognize it.  A shift in your paradigm will open your eyes to the grass-finished beef all around you.

Spring, 2007

“Would you sell us some feeder steers?”  Carrie asked me over the phone. 

The wheels were spinning in my head.  I had known Carrie and Eric for a few years.  I had visited their beautiful farm to look at their Scottish Highland cattle.  Carrie and Eric direct-market in the Madison area.  I had tremendous respect for their abilities because I had been trying to direct-market also.

“Yes, but what about your Highlands?” I asked.

“We need to expand and we want a faster-growing breed.  We thought of your Red Angus cattle first.”  Carrie answered.

“Great, I would be happy to sell you guys some feeder steers.  But they won’t be weaned until fall.  Why don’t you come over and I’ll show you the cattle and we can talk.” 

I was already formulating a plan in my head and I wanted to give my sales pitch in person.  This could be my opportunity to break into direct-marketing in a big way.  I also knew they were limited by the size of their farm and might be receptive to a partnership.

I took them for a jeep ride around the farm.  We looked at the cows with calves.  We walked into the heifer pasture and the curious cattle formed a semi-circle around us.  One of the heifers licked Carrie’s arm.  Now was the time to make my pitch.

I asked Carrie and Eric about their goals and dreams.  I listened.

Finally, Carrie turned to me and asked, “What do you want?”

“I want a connection to the consumer.  I want to know the people eating the excellent meat this farm produces.  I want to direct-market.  But I need a partner to help me and I think I’ve found a couple who could.”

Carrie stammered, “You found another couple, or do you mean us?”

“You guys,” I said. 

We laughed.  I suspect they had been thinking the same thing.

We sat around my kitchen table drinking wine and talking details.  We could go the traditional route and butcher steers 18-24 months old.  This plan put us 18 months away from grass-finished beef.  Momentum killer. 

Luckily, I had just read “Grassfed to Finish,” by Allan Nation.  In the chapter titled, “Turning Cull Cows into Gourmet Products,” Allan details how much of the world values beef from older animals.

“Paris native, Jerome Chateau, said the wide-spread American belief that meat from older animals has to be tough strikes most Frenchmen as incredibly naïve.  In fact, given the choice-as they are-the extremely picky French actually prefer their beef to be from older animals.”

“The meat cutter said he considered the best flavored meat to be from a five-to nine-year-old cow.  The older cows marble easily and are considered by the French to be in the prime of their life.”

“A five-year-old cow is like a 36-year-old woman.  She is at the peak of her beauty,” he said.”

I asked Carrie and Eric if they would be willing to try older beef.  I had a couple of four-year-old cows that had lost their calves in a freak April blizzard.  They were fattening quickly on our lush spring pastures.

Carrie and Eric were game.  We agreed that we should look at the carcasses and cut out one steak for a taste test.

The cows were butchered and the carcasses were dry-aged for two weeks.  Beef becomes more tender the longer it ages before it is cut up. 

Eric and I met at the butcher.  The carcasses looked good.  The butcher cut a steak out of each carcass.  Color and tenderness seemed fine.  The meat was marbled with enough fat to correspond to high select or low choice.  I was becoming more optimistic.

That night Carrie grilled the steaks medium-rare.  We each cut off a sample.  Chewed, smiled, clinked our wine glasses, delicious! 

Since then, we have butchered probably 30 cows along with many younger animals.  We still try a steak from every cow.  We had one eight-year-old cow that we deemed was too tough.  We made her entire carcass into hamburger.

We have not had a complaint on our grass-finished beef.  Chefs and other knowledgeable consumers have raved about our beef, especially the older beef.  It has a fuller flavor than the younger beef. 

The picture on my For Sale page is a great example of the type of cow that works for grass-finished beef.  Notice how fat she is.  All her angles are smoothed out with fat.  Her hips and ribs are covered with fat.

If you see a cow on pasture that looks like that, grass-finished beef may be closer than you think.