New date with the butcher - Saturday Feb 12th.
Which makes for a very nice Valentines day for me. I can't wait to get them gone. I can't wait for some hams.
I'm trying to look at the positive side of this experience. I got worried that maybe they were getting too old, but I found that this is the best timing for some really good bacon. They're very large and will probably have to get half hams to get them in any oven or roaster.
My favorite thing about raising pigs is delicious hamsteaks. Oh man.... breakfast, lunch or dinner, these things are amazing. It's just the right size to throw in a pan for some ham and eggs or put on a delicious ham panini with artichoke spread and fresh spinach with a ripe tomato, or thrown on the grill just until it gets those nice grill lines and put on the side of some fresh grilled veggies. Holdays and Sunday dinners are reserved for the big hams, but the ham steak makes every day dinners divine.
For all you meat share members out there salivating, it takes about 3 weeks for the smoked meats to be ready so as soon as I know it's ready, I'll let you all know. I wasn't too worried about freezer space with two cows as I quickly passed that on, but I am worried that I won't have enough freezer space for 4 giant pigs! To be sure, I'll pass it along as soon as I get it.
And it kinda worked out well having the meat share end in the winter time. I can't imagine having this much meat on a warm fall day and shuffling around to get it distributed as fast as possible. I really enjoyed spreading out the different cuts on frozen tables outside. It gave me something to do in the cold winter months.
I really need to work on my math though as I wondered why most farmers sell their beef by hanging weight - which is before the bones and fat are removed. Once you get down to it, a cow isn't as big as you might think, especially with 10 hungry meat share families. Lesson learned - hanging weight does not equal how much meat you get. Oh, and cows don't have nearly as many steaks as they should.
My morning is going well, I got a real stock trailer dropped off and the pigs are loading and unloading themselves with ease and coaxing of day old cherry pies and a warm bed of straw. I'm feeling much more at ease than three weeks ago, muscles are relaxing and sleep is back to normal... only one nightmare about pigs this week, which is really good. I almost checked myself into a mental ward after a terrifying night where I dreamed the pigs were downstairs in my house snorting and eating the walls, only to find that it was just a load snoring dog in real life. I kicked the dog off the bed and the pig dreams stopped.
I am starting to feel like I am almost caught up from last year. Almost. I still have my first batch of chickens going to replace the last years disaster.
So now I'm looking at this year fresh and here's some things I'd like to do --
Plant Sale - I had so much fun selling veggies to other locals who appreciate heirlooms and growing your own food. I'm starting in April with every Saturday open for a couple hours to sell veggie starts, herbs, unique small fruits, and free gardening advice. Open April to end of May
Local Honey and Maple Syrup - Along with selling plants, I found some honey and syrup from other local farms that I'll offer for sale. I sure as heck don't have the time to keep bees, even though I'd really like to, but I still love local honey. And I hate looking on the back of "pancake syrup" to see that it's all high fructose corn syrup (GMO) and a bunch of other chemicals. Nothing compares to the real thing and it's quite an Ohio pride item. We sure can't grow sugar cane, but we do have sugar maples!
Organic Grains - I'll be offering some locally grown, organic grains too for all you bread bakers out there. I think I'll start pretty basic with wheat and rye, but special orders are always welcome!
Smaller CSA - We're scaling back our CSA a little this year just to give our members extra attention. We only have a few spots left so email me if you want on the list. Spots are reserved by payment on first come, first serve. I've ordered tons of seeds this year, but I've come to terms with my work garden not producing as much as I'd have hoped last year and I'm adjusting our signups accordingly.
Meat Share? - I'm still debating on doing the meat share again. I loved my members this year and I would not have gotten my first cow if it hadn't been for the meat share. I learned a lot and might make some adjustments and offer it again in 2011. The pastured beef is really good and I want another cow this year as my freezer is almost empty already. As soon as I iron out the details and make a plan, I'll let you all know.
If anyone would like to stop out and help, we could always use an extra hand. I just keep thinking - in a month, we'll have another greenhouse up and the smell of mud will be so fresh under the melting compacted ice. Spring kids and lambs should be on their way soon and in no time, I'll be out putting up more fences, planting more strawberries, pruning the apple trees, and playing in the dirt. Let me know if you want in on any of this fun, ;)