Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Slow Food Utah Rocks!

This past week has kept us busy with the wonderful discovery of Slow Food and the fantastic members of the Slow Food Utah chapter. I am not entirely sure how everything worked out, but an email I had sent out was forwarded to a member of Slow Food Utah who was excited to find out about us. She sent our information out to the other members of Slow Food and within a couple of hours Hollie called me at work to report that the people had been calling all morning wanting pork.

Slow Food is an organization that believes in eating the kind of food we believe in raising. They are the opposite of "fast food", meaning that they want healthy, natural, tasteful food that is raised sustainably. They accept the fact that nature does not produce uniform food year round but varies and has seasons. I am sure I am not justly describing the organization, so I will instead post their link here.

After reading up on the Slow Food website, Hollie and I quickly realized that we had very similar philosophies when it comes to food. Slow Food Utah has graciously added us to their list of local producers which we are proud to be a part of. See our Slow Food Utah link here.

In the middle of all this, a very exciting opportunity has developed! Jim Light, who I believe is associated with Slow Food Utah and who is the Executive Chef for the Viking Cooking School, has agreed to host a hands on evening course for Christiansen's Hog Heaven's customers. Of course the main dish, Stuffed Pork Loin Roast will be provided by us. Jim rattled off several ideas over the phone that literally made my mouth water. Jim will teach the class how to prepare a delicious Stuffed Pork Loin and a few other dishes that will complement the main dish. After we have all had a chance to help prepare the food, we will sit down and enjoy the meal. The cost will be around $65/person and will be limited to the first 20 people interested. The event will take place at the Viking Cooking School in Salt Lake. Jim will be getting back with me at the end of this week with more details. We are tentatively shooting for somewhere around December 28-30. Please let us know if you are interested and we will add you to our list. These spots will fill up very fast. If we have a strong enough response, we will see if we can talk Jim into hosting another class at a later date. This will make a great Christmas present for those loved ones who would like to learn from a master chef. Once we have it set up, payments can be made online at the Viking Cooking School website.

We appreciate the response from the Slow Food members. They are a very enthusiastic group! I encourage everybody to check out their website and look at joining the Slow Food Utah chapter.

Our December order is nearly filled up and we will soon be taking orders for February. We sincerely appreciate your business. We are grateful for the referrals and ask that you keep them coming to help support your local farmer. As always feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or suggestions.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Busy Preparing for Winter

Will life ever slow down? Hollie and I ask ourselves this nearly every day. It seems like every time we get close to catching up on our projects a new one pops up that costs both time and money. Here is one of those extra projects we had last week.

We bought 12 tons of premium dairy grade alfalfa that is a staple ingredient of our All Natural, Humanely Treated, Pasture Raised Berkshire pigs’ diet. We purchased the alfalfa from our neighbor Scott or “Scooter” as us locals call him. Even though I learned how to judge alfalfa in college, I am sure that anybody could take one look at this alfalfa and recognize quality when they see it. Scooter, does many things well but he excels at putting up quality hay. Because he was so busy selling his hay this year, I arranged for another neighbor, Marlin or Vern as us locals call him to pick the bales up out of the field with his bale wagon. (Are you noticing a pattern here with nicknames? I don’t dare ask what they call me : ) ) A bale wagon is a nifty piece of equipment that picks up and stacks the hay 9 or 10 bales high. When Vern came to drop off the hay, I was prepared with a 16’ long steel section of pallet shelving to serve as a brace as his bale wagon slowly scooted the hay stack from the wagon to the ground. As I was bracing the hay, the 12’ high stack started to swagger and I dove out of the way as 4 tons of alfalfa came crashing down. Unfortunately, the next two loads didn’t go any better and when we were all done, I had a huge unstable mess with rain in the forecast. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to restack this hay by myself before the rain came. So I called the biggest kid in town Melvin or Big Mel, and offered him a higher wage than he normally charges to come help me stack hay. Then I called Vern and asked him to come over with his tractor so that we could stack bales in the loader and lift them as we stacked higher and higher. For the next two nights we met after Vern and I got home from work and Melvin got home from baseball practice. My brother in law Stan and good friend and neighbor Rich were kind enough to stop by and help stack as well. We finally got the hay stacked and covered. When I woke up the next morning, it had rained all night and fortunately, the hay was dry.

Extra projects like our hay experience can quickly eat into our time and profits. We closely track our farm budget to help make sure we are staying profitable. However, when we forecast our budget it is difficult to anticipate these unforeseen expenses.

Once the hay was stacked, I was able to finish my watering station. This is my own invention consisting of a pressurized pipe with watering nipples lined with a heat cable and then heavily insulated. We will see if it keeps us from chopping ice all winter. Part of this project was pouring a concrete pad all around the watering station to prevent a mud hole. I decided to mix and pour my own concrete which ended up using 38 bags. It honestly was a little easier than I anticipated and I have some other projects I will attempt next spring using concrete. In order to power the heating cable, I needed to run electricity out to our pasture. So I bought lots of wire, conduit, fittings, and outlets and went to work. I decided to run the conduit on top of the ground along the fence lines. In this case the cost of the extra wire and conduit around the perimeter was cheaper and faster than trenching a line across the field. While I was at it, I ran a line up to the chicken coop so that we can heat the chicken waterer and provide extra light so we can have a few eggs through the winter. Once you have eaten fresh eggs, you just can’t go back to store bought eggs regardless of the bogus labels they put on their eggs.

In between these projects, we also decided to till up an acre and replant it with new pasture. It is coming up nicely and hopefully by spring it will really take off. Prior to tilling our field, I dug up and moved some fruit trees that we had planted a few years ago. They just haven’t done so well. When I dug them up, I saw why. The gophers have been eating the roots. On some trees the trunk was just a sharpened stick in the ground. So now it is World War III at our place. With the field plowed, it is easy to identify the new mounds that they dig. I have been digging their mounds until I find their tunnels and then set traps in the tunnels. With just one acre, I have already trapped 18 gophers; including one great big gopher that dug a huge mound right in the middle of our new lawn. It would be much easier and quicker to poison the gophers but we are committed to keeping our land free of chemicals and such. Besides, with chickens and pigs roaming the pasture, we don’t want to ever risk poisoning our animals and food.

As you can see, we have been busy, but we love (almost) every minute of it. : ) I hope we have made all the necessary preparations for winter.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Apple Finished Christmas Pork

We are excited to be offering a special treat this winter! In addition to feeding our pigs pasture, wholesome grain, and nutritious alfalfa, we will also be feeding our Berkshire pigs lots of fresh, crisp apples.

Feeding pigs apples, makes the pork even a little more tender and actually gives it a subtly sweet taste. The reason for this is that pigs don't fully break down the fats in the foods they consume. Rather they have a unique ability to deposit the fats from their food into their own fat. (I really simplified this, but I am sure you don't want a lesson in pig biology.) This is why feeding pigs the right feed is so important. We feed our pigs only feed that we wouldn't mind eating ourselves. Of course, we don't eat alfalfa but it is clean and nutritious enough that I wouldn't mind. While many farms will throw moldy hay and such to their pigs, we actually pay a premium for dairy grade alfalfa. The same goes for our grain and apples.

We are now taking orders for a December 20th delivery of mouth watering, delicious, wholesome, clean, pasture raised, humanely treated, all natural, Berkshire pork. We have many satisfied customers who can vouch for the taste and quality difference in Christiansen's Hog Heaven's pork. You have the choice of having your hams and bacon hickory smoked and cured with a brown sugar recipe or fresh. The curing process adds a small amount of nitrates to the meat. Some of our customers want to avoid the nitrates while others prefer the extra flavor that it offers. The same goes for the sausage. The recipe the butcher uses contains BHT which a preservative. Some customers love the flavor of their recipe and others prefer the fresh ground pork. Some of our customers are very talented and actually smoke their own meats and make their own sausage! Also since many of you will be having guests this winter, we can offer you larger hams by not cutting off hams slices and keeping the ham whole rather than cut it in half. We let you choose whatever is best for you and your families.

The butcher has offered to place the pork in boxes which will make it convenient to give as a gift to family and friends. Whether our bodies are down and chilled from the cold winter or our spirits are down and chilled from the roller coaster we call life, few things in this world bring warmth and cheer like fresh, wholesome, and nutritious food. An order of pork will be well received by a growing family, a neighbor who recently lost a job, or a friend who needs to know that somebody cares. To help make giving a little easier this year, we are going to offer 1/4 orders of pork.

A 1/4 order of pork will weigh on average 30-35 lbs and will contain approximately:

1 - Half Ham (4-5 lbs.)
5 packs of bacon or fresh side (uncured bacon)
6 packages of sausage or fresh ground pork
1 ham hock OR pack of spare ribs (each weighs 3-4 lbs)
2 shoulder roast (2-3 lbs)
10-12 pork chops
5 packages of ham slices (if fresh ham is ordered, there will not be any ham slices, instead the ham will be 2-3 lbs. larger. This can also be specified for a smoked/cured ham)

We are offering 1/4 order of premium pork in a box for easy gift giving at a flat rate of $150. For those wanting to order a 1/2 pork or whole pork the regular rates apply.

1/2 pork $3.25/lb (around $250-$275 total)
Whole pork $3.00/lb (around $450-$525 total)

Please send a $25 deposit for a 1/4 pork, $50 deposit for 1/2 pork, or $100 deposit for a whole pork to:

Christian Christiansen
Box 32
Vernon, UT 84080

We will soon have PayPal set up for your convenience as well. Your pork will not be reserved until the deposit is received.

Hurry! This pork will sell out quickly. Also, if you want to order multiple 1/4 porks for kids and grandkids or what not, we will work with you on the price so that it is closer to the half pork rates. As always feel free to contact us with any questions!

Ph. 435-839-3482