LAMB & PORK SHARES

 
 

Email justin@workingtheoryfarm.com, call / text 503-592-0309 to learn more.
CLICK HERE to make a deposit and reserve your share!

HOW DID A VEGETARIAN OF 25 YEARS COME TO RAISE ANIMALS FOR MEAT?

     

Much to the chagrin of my parents, I was seven years old when I decided that it was wrong to kill and eat animals. Just like that, I gave up meat cold turkey. To be honest, I didn’t think much more about the decision; being a vegetarian quickly became a part of my identity and eating meat was something I just didn’t do.

It wasn’t until two decades later that I found myself working on a diversified organic farm—growing vegetables, as well as pigs, cattle, chickens and sheep—when I began to reexamine my rationale. Growing vegetables is an inherently extractive process, and doing so organically (without the use of synthetic chemicals) requires natural inputs to keep the soil healthy and productive. These inputs are most commonly byproducts from livestock production: manure, feather, blood and bone meal, among others. It turns out there’s no such thing as a vegan vegetable.

In the years since, I have revisited my decision and refined my thoughts around the ethics of raising —and eating—animals. I was even a finalist in an essay contest in the New York Times, arguing that raising and eating livestock represents an integral part of the agricultural balance. Last season was my first attempt at putting my money where my mouth is (so to speak) by raising a group of ten pigs on pasture. The project was a great success on every level, and I am excited to be giving it another go – and adding grass-fed lamb to the mix!



PIGS

 

WHY PIGS?

     

In addition to growing great meat, these pigs have been hard at work for the farm this season. They’ve lived their whole lives outside, and they’ve moved to a new piece of pasture every week.

They’ve moved through underutilized areas of the farm and through the apple orchard, eating the wind fallen fruit as they went. They rooted out all the weeds and turned the soil in the process. The pigs have also been the best generators of organic fertilizer that a farmer could hope for. They are highly efficient processors of waste vegetables and fruits, and they’ve distributed their gifts generously around the fields.



OUR PIGS

     

Our pigs are a mix of three heritage breeds: Berkshire, Red Wattle and Mulefoot. Unlike modern breeds that were selected over generations to put on weight quickly and thrive in confinement, our pigs are meant to live outside and dig in the field. Here’s a brief description of each (courtesy of cochon55.com) breed:

BerkshireOriginating from Britain, Berkshire is the most popular of the heritage breeds. Known as “Kurobuta” in Japan, this pig is black with white legs, and has become a favorite with chefs because of its intramuscular marbling. The breed yields a brighter pork than most, and features a thick, delicious fat cap. The meat is sweet and creamy with hints of nuttiness.

Red WattleOriginating from New Caledonia, a French Island in the South Pacific, the Red Wattle gets its name from its red color and the ­fleshy skin that hangs under its jowls. This extremely rare breed adapts to climates well and is an excellent forager. It is prized for its tender meat and splendid hams. Red Wattle pork is lean and juicy with a rich beef-like taste and texture.

MulefootOriginating from the U.S., the Mulefoot is a black hog named for its solid hoof, which resembles a mule. Critically rare, this breed recently won several blind taste tests against eight different heritage breeds. The Mulefoot’s disposition is docile, and weight gain is between 400-600 pounds before age two. Known for its premium hams, the superior tasting meat is red with freckled marbling.




HOW DOES BUYING MEAT WORK?

     
We’ve made every effort to give these pigs and lambs the best possible life – they’ve lived their whole lives on open pasture and they’ve eaten a consistently high quality diet – organically-grown grass for the lambs and for the pigs a balanced diet of organic fruits and veggies and feed free of antibiotics. We made all of our choices with the animals’ welfare in mind, and I couldn’t imagine ending their lives with a stressful ride in an unfamiliar trailer to a commercial slaughterhouse. Instead, we’ve opted to invite a professional butcher to the farm to process both the pigs and the lambs onsite using the most humane and stress-free methods. All of the animals will be slaughtered on-farm in mid-September, and purchase arrangements must be made prior to processing.


PURCHASING PIGS

     
Pigs can be bought by the whole or the half (though you can certainly split a half share with other friends or family if you prefer), and you will put down a deposit of $200 to reserve your share. The final price will be determined by the hanging weight of the animal (after it has been dressed). You pay the farm for the balance, and you pay the butcher separately for the slaughter and processing (cutting, smoking, sausage- making, wrapping). As with the fruits and vegetables from the farm, my hope is always to cover my costs and keep the food affordable for buyers. In an effort to be totally transparent, I will tell you that the three biggest costs (in addition to infrastructure and the bulk of the labor of their care, which won’t really be accounted for here) were the pigs’ store-bought food (upwards of 1000 lbs per pig) and the price of the young piglets themselves ($100 each). We made every effort to buy the best food we could find locally, and our choice of breeder was made with careful scrutiny. Both decisions have paid off, as our cohort of pigs has been healthy all season. Given these costs and the challenges of keeping good local food affordable, I’ve opted to offer the purchase of the pigs on a sliding scale. You can choose to pay anywhere from $4.75-$6.00 per pound, depending on what fits your family’s budget. The pigs are not uniform in size, and we will do our best to accommodate requests for a larger or smaller animal. While the smallest quantity I can sell is a half of a pig, you are welcome to find friends with whom you can split this share!


SAMPLE COST BREAKDOWN FOR A HALF PIG

     

Live weight of a pig at slaughter: ~280 lbs

Hanging weight of the carcass: ~190 lbs

Weight of a half of carcass: ~95 lbs

Deposit to farm: ~$200

Remainder to farm (@$5.25/lb): ~$298.75

Butcher Costs:

-Slaughter and Disposal: ~$38

-64¢/lb for cut/wrap: ~$45

-75¢/lb for cure/smoke of bacon: ~7.50

TOTAL (SAMPLE) COST: ~$589.25



HOW MUCH MEAT IS THAT?

     

You get to make all of the choices about how you want your share divided, including all of the cuts and the choices of sausage and cured meats.

Here’s an example of what you could get back from your half of a pig – this will obviously vary depending on the pig and your choices from the butcher:

  • 14 lbs of Pork loin chops or roasts – you can choose thickness and packaging (chop are typically 1” thick and 2 chops/pack).
  • 3 lbs of Spare Ribs – Ask for my recipe if you need one
  • 9 lbs of Pork Sausage- can select sausage links or bulk sausage
  • 15 lbs of Ham
  • 10 lbs of Bacon
  • 14 lbs of Pork Shoulder Roasts
  • 5 lbs of Stew Bones and ham hocks– excellent for soups and stews and also a favorite for dogs
  • 6 lbs of Fat – you can render this into lard to use in the kitchen

You should expect a side of pork (half of a hog) to take up about three cubic feet of freezer space. If your space is limited and that’s the only hold up preventing you from signing up, we may be able to lend you some room in our freezer here on the farm.



LAMBS

 

OUR LAMBS

     

After last season, I expanded the footprint of the farm to include the full 24 acres of the property, which includes nearly ten acres of pasture. Our lambs have spent their entire lives eating grass in the fields, moving every couple of days to a fresh spot and sleeping in a mobile shelter for predator protection. The regular rotations keeps the grass growing and breaks parasitic cycles, which makes for healthier and happier animals.

Our lambs were bred by Bob Friedrich, owner of Union Mills Feed, in Mulino, Oregon. Bob is the fifth generation on this farm, which was founded in 1852, and he’s personally been raising sheep and goats for nearly 70 years! The sheep are an old and evolving cross of Suffolk, Dorset and Southdown, and they’ve been thriving entirely on pasture this season!




THE MEAT

     

Lambs are bought by the whole animal and require a $50 deposit to reserve. As with the pigs, my goal is to raise healthy animals and offer meat at an affordable price point. To that end, I will continue to offer a sliding scale of payment options. You can choose to pay anywhere from $5-$6 per pound, depending on what fits your family’s budget. Like the pigs, the lambs are not uniform in size, and we will do our best to accommodate requests for a larger or smaller animal. The average hanging weight of each animal will probably be in the ballpark of 40-60#

. The final price will be determined by the hanging weight of the animal (after it has been dressed). You pay the farm for the balance, and you pay the butcher separately for the slaughter and processing (cutting, smoking, wrapping).

You will have a range of options for how your meat is cut and packaged, but the carcass basically includes:

  • hind legs (either bone in or boned or in leg kebabs)
  • loin (whole or in chops) -the rack (whole or in chops)
  • the shanks (whole or ground)
  • the shoulders (whole, boned or large chunks of stew meat)
  • ground meat
  • liver, heart, kidneys and stew bones

I am also planning to have the hides professionally cleaned and tanned (with the wool attached). If you buy an animal, you are welcome to purchase the hide for the price of the tanning – likely in the $100-150 range.

 
Email justin@workingtheoryfarm.com, call / text 503-592-0309 to learn more or CLICK HERE to make a deposit and reserve your share.