It is a busy, bustling, exciting (and hot!) time of year on the farm. Our first cutting of hay is in the barn and now we are waiting for a good rain. Our rotational grazing system is in full swing, which means moving 4 groups of animals (cows + steers, calves, oxen, sheep) to new pasture on a daily basis. Watching ruminants do what they are designed to do, graze, is satisfying and grounding work.
We raise Red Wattle pigs (a heritage breed) on pasture, and feed them a diverse diet of local whey and bread, organic grains, sunflower seeds, squash, pumpkins, kelp, and acorn and hickory nuts in the fall.
A word on lard: When we get our meat back from the butchers, we get back all of the fat from our pigs. For our family, we render this fat and use it as our primary cooking oil. It is great for sauteing, frying, or in pie crusts and biscuits. Leaf lard is the purest of pork fat, and when rendered is very white and has almost no pork smell (better for pie crust and pastries). Other pork fat, when rendered into lard, is more tan colored and has slightly more pork smell and flavor to it (better for savory frying or sauteing). Rendering lard is as simple as putting a piece of fat on low heat on the stove until the oil is extracted and you are left with crispy cracklings. It is rare to be able to cook with local oil. If you eat pork, lard is a wonderful local oil source, that is versatile and great for high heat cooking. Our lard is from pigs that are raised in a very intentional way, fed a nourishing and diverse diet, right here in Ann Arbor. We encourage you to try rendering and cooking with lard!