Our history with eggs started in Georgia in 2012. We started with the trifecta of Pearl White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, and Ameraucanas. We fell in love with the Leghorns since they were extremely friendly and T could easily them up and hold them. He would play under a shade tree there, climbing on its nearly-horizontal trunk with several of them up there playing along. The Rhode Island Reds often pecked me, and the Ameraucanas didn’t want anything to do with us. Of course, Leghorns were also the most productive and so it was a win-win for our small operation.
We currently have about 70 PW Leghorns and 60 Golden Comets currently laying and living in the Chicken House – a structure we built in 2015 out of the old barn wood and metal roofing we salvaged when we dismantled our old barn. It is situated with the best view of the property, and underneath all the blackberries we cleared around it, we discovered a small grove of apple and hawthorn trees where the chickens hang out on sunny days. We erected a 6-ft pasture fence (Leghorns are flighty!) with cross-fencing and gates to allow for pasture rotation. There are too many critters here to let them completely free range, but we have expanded their pasture to include additional fields as well. We like to catch the opportunities in spring and fall to till and plant cover crop in the fields where chickens have been. One of our primary goals is for them to have as much green-eatin’ as possible! We use Bar Ale non-GMO chicken feed.
We have raised both Cornish Cross and Red Ranger meat birds, and there is sure a difference! The Cornish is what you’d expect from the supermarket: giant breasts and lots of soft, white meat. They were ready for butchering by 8 weeks so it’s an economical bird, but they weren’t as successful on pasture as we would have hoped our first time around. In 2016, we raised Red Rangers. They did very well on pasture, but took 14 weeks to get to butcher weight. They have much longer, larger carcasses and have less total meat with a larger portion of dark meat. This year we are raising small successions of the Cornish Cross because we find that’s where the demand is and it’s the most economical bird to raise on the farm. We use organic feed for our meat birds.
This is our second year raising pigs, and we enjoy them immensely! We made the mistake of bring our first batch home in my Subaru (it was freezing that day and I didn’t want them to catch cold in a trailer) and the car was never the same. We’ve raised several permutations of Hereford / Hampshire/Yorkshire/Tamworth crosses as well as Large Blacks (Tamworth/Large Black crosses). While young, the pigs live in the indoor/outdoor paddock in our barn where they love hunting for eggs the boys throw into the deep straw. Once they’re used to us and trained to the electric fencing, we move them to pasture, where they are typically moved about every week to fresh pasture. We’ve built a series of “microbarns” that act as hubs as the pigs are rotated. They snarffle under the black walnut trees, eating windfall fruit and nuts. We feed our pigs a locally-milled, no soy, non-GMO grain and pea-based meal.
Large Blacks (below)
Enjoying mouthfuls of grass and sunshine
About Reserving and Buying Pork:
We sell our pigs as either half pigs or whole pigs and our customers pick up their meat directly from the butcher. We charge a $100 deposit to reserve a half or whole pig. After the pig is ready it is slaughtered on the farm by the butcher and the hanging (carcass) weight is determined. This minimizes transportation stress on the animal. Wooden Mallet Farm then contacts customers for invoicing and with directions about how to communicate cut instructions to the butcher. This allows customers to customize how their meat is cut, wrapped, cured, or smoked. For butchering, we are working with The Meating Place in Hillsboro (www.meatingplacepdx.com).
Customers pick up their meat from The Meating Place and pay for the butchering. It typically takes 2-4 weeks for pork to be ready, depending on how much smoking/curing is requested.
We are currently taking reservations for pigs that will be harvested mid-June 2018. We charge $4.50/lb hanging weight. Whole pigs at butchering typically have a hanging weight around 200 lbs. From this, customers can expect around 140-150 lbs of meat, although it depends somewhat on the pig’s physique and how it’s cut and processed. Butchering charges, also based on hanging weight, are $0.65 / lb and cured or smoked cuts like bacon or ham add $1.00 / lb. These butchering charges are set by the Meating Place and were last confirmed January 2018.
For example, for a half pig with a hanging weight of 100 lbs that produces about 75 lbs of meat, with normal curing / smoking, the cost would be $450 to Wooden Mallet Farm and about $75 to the butcher. Thank you for choosing local, pasture-raised, delicious pork. Enjoy!
Vegetables. Herbs. Flowers. Oh Yeah.
Seeds are pure and simple magic. We built budget greenhouses in Georgia and Kentucky, and we decided not to beat around the bush here so we built a 20×40 greenhouse from Oregon Valley Greenhouses. While this is small by industry standard, it’s more than enough to populate the field with starts. It was a bear to erect the greenhouse in the muddy winter days of 2016, but it’s become a crucial part of the operation. We tried our hand at some fun new things in 2016, like artichoke and asparagus, and worked to perfect some favorites we’ve grown in the past, like celery, strawberries, and leeks. In addition to numerous staple items including herbs and cut flowers, we are excited to grow the kind of crops that our boys will eat by the handful in the field. If this happens, then we know we’re doing something right!