A literal bowl of cherries!

While the weather may not be a bowl of Cherries, I still am eating cherries, and strawberries, and peaches, and raspberries, and applesauce, and in the case of this picture…

apple cherry sauce

..Applesauce WITH Cherries! I have had more than one person ask me, “how we are getting along without fresh fruit and vegetables?”. The answer is very easily. We are eating loads of fruits and vegetables, they just come from the freezer or the pantry. It is all delicious and there is plenty there for us, and when we can eat all those things fresh again in the summer, it will be all the sweeter!

The weather update?

snowy road

There is little to say about the weather at this point other than words like….crazy freakin’ cold, closed schools, intense winds and well, I have to admit, beautiful sunshine, a brilliant blue sky and glistening shiny fields of ice, so really it’s all perspective! If I had little ones at home climbing the walls during these periods of lock down, it would be a different story for sure!

So between keeping the books for the business, and reading through seed catalogs, and cooking from our stored foods, I am keeping busy. Today, I will bring the chickens something special to give them SUPER powers against the cold. I will bring them some pig liver, and I am betting it will be gone the second I put it out or them.

beef chart

My newest assignment is reading about beef cuts, and here is my homework! Lots to learn before Spring. Since we had the hogs butchered I have read a lot and learned a lot. Some of it in the “hard lesson learned” category. In the big picture I did fine with the hogs, but next year I will do it differently. I want to focus on the getting the most cuts I can in the category of “what people will purchase” such as; chops, roasts, and bacon. I learned from “The Beginning Farmer”, (how would I get along without these awesome podcasts?) that there are a lot of ways to increase money made on pork in each phase of the process.

1. Can I reduce the purchase price of the piglets?

This is an area I am stuck on, I like the people and the farm that we got our Heritage Breed piglets from and I like that we know how they were treated, and how they were fed and housed. This isn’t a place to save $50 in my mind.

2. Can we reduce feed costs?

We have found that feeding the piglets when they are young is not too tough on the budget but when they are giant hogs, it is a whole other thing! Fortunately they are giant and hungry towards early Fall, and we can combat some of this by growing food for them, such as pumpkins, squashes, beets, and more. We did very well last year feeding them wild apples and letting them gorge themselves on acorns and hickory nuts, so this is also a great supplement in the Fall.

3. Can we use things better if we process differently?

Plain and simple… Hams are hard to sell when it isn’t Christmas or Easter! I would next time do much of the ham in ground pork. It is versatile and can go a long way on Pizza, in Spaghetti, in Meatballs etc. I would cure less, grind more, and put more into brats and breakfast sausages as well, which are both great company feeders when guests are around. Another thing I learned is letting the processor know we want every little bit of the ends and pieces of bacon. These are great for us to eat for bacon, leaving the nice one pound packages to sell, as bacon is the item EVERYONE wants!

4. Can we eat the pork differently ourselves to create a better profit on the pork we’ve had butchered?

The answer to this is YES! I went straight for the bacon and pork chops when we filled the freezer. Hmmm then I learned about eating high on the hog vs eating low on the hog. It really means exactly what it says. So next year we will eat more efficiently. We will eat more of the ground pork, and instead of eating the 1 lb packages of the nicely packed bacon, we will eat the Jowl Bacon, which as of yet we haven’t tried. We did get those cuts, there were four. We gifted two and have two left. If we get 3-5 hogs next year we will have plenty of Jowl bacon for ourselves and the 1 pound packages for traditional bacon will be sold to customers. There are plenty of cuts lower on the hog that will be just fine for us, and this leaves us with an overall better profit from the pork. Does this mean we won’t eat as well? Absolutely not!

behind a tractor

On the days we are not in the deep freeze I go out on deliveries, sometimes a bit in the slow lane though.

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