What gets frustrating is defending our prices to potential customers. We find ourselves apologizing for our prices. We over-sell so we can justify, why our animals are worth the cost. And why, because others are advertising their animals as pastured, when they never see grass. Are they pastured just because they are outside? Are they worth more with the title "heritage hogs" even though they are fed corn, and again, never see grass? There are so many meanings inside one little label, that it is hard to wade through.
Our questions is this. What do you think of when you hear Pastured Pigs, or Pastured Pork? Do you picture pigs out in shoulder-high grass munching the day away? Do you think of pigs outside all day with mud holes to wallow in, shade trees to lay under? Or do you see hogs outside, on concrete, with a self-feeder? ;
How do you picture the farmer of these pigs? Do you see the farmer throwing feed into the self-feeder and going about his day? Or, do you picture the farmer out with their pigs, constantly moving them to better pasture, managing the rooting, working to make the forage more beneficial to the animal, and the land? Do you think about the farmer at all?
We don't try to get on our soapbox often, but there are times we scratch our heads and ask "why are we doing all of this damn work?" Well, because we completely, whole-heartedly, believe in what we are doing. We love it, we love our animals, we love how our land has changed completely in six short years. Our pride, our sweat, my tears (Jason isn't a crier!), is all in this land we take care of. The wildlife that has moved in since we started doing the rotational grazing is a lot more abundant. We didn't see anything but birds. It started with the fawn that was born in our pastures, and stayed until he was big enough to jump out. Then came the gophers and rabbits, then the snakes. After the snakes came the kestrels. They are my favorites! The same family of Kestrels (small falcon) has been in our trees for the second summer in a row. We watch them dive for the gophers while eating our dinner. The Monarch butterfly season that will soon start because we keep the milkweed in our pastures, is a beautiful sight. Most recently, our gross "algae pond" is home to a Great Blue Heron! He never goes far when we are doing our chores. We leave him alone, go about our business, and in return, he gifts us with his graceful beauty! Who knew all of this activity could exist on 10 small acres! Our forage, and ground, has also made vast improvements! What are weeds to most, is nutrition for our hogs! Our hogs are eating thistle, stripping the leaves right off. They are eating the burning nettles, which in turn led us to find out nettles are a natural wormer. Every year we see new plants come up and thrive. Every year our animals try more new plants and love them. Compare it to introducing new foods to your children! Our sandy ground is holding more water, and is becoming more efficient in months there isn't a lot of rain.
To come around to my point about the labels (takes me awhile to get there!), get to know your farmer, visit their farm if it is an option. Ask questions so you understand their price points. You will come to find out what you are looking for, and what separates certain farms from others. There is a need for all farmers to do what they believe in, but please label it for what it is! A pig isn't just a pig. In doing your research you will find pork products, beef products, veggie products that go above and beyond your flavor expectation!
What does Pastured Pork mean to you?