Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Buying Meat in Bulk: Personal Pork Harvest

Pure bred Glouchestershire Old Spot, our favored breed.

Hey farm friends, I wanted to give you a look at what our whole and half hog we harvested for personal use looked like. Buying in bulk is a great option to get your best price, stock up and be prepared, make meal planning easier, support local farms and try new cuts.

•Personal cuts from a whole and half hog, with video links.
•Costs of butchering, and how to save money.
•What our freezers look like.

This is our spring 2021 pork harvest. We kept a hog and a half back for ourselves, as we had been out of pork (and bacon!) for a long time.

Whole hog harvest
Whole hog harvest, smallest hog.

Above is the results of our whole hog harvest. As per usual we keep the smallest of the herd (another reason we took an extra half this time around). This one is pretty typical of how we cut a whole hog for our use. There is fresh side pork (bacon), chops, roasts, hams, lard, hocks, ground pork, ribs and country style chops. (We have a back up of unused organs, so I did not keep any this time. We generally use the organs for the dogs.)

Video of our whole hog cuts.


Half hog harvest.

Above is the results of our half hog harvest. We occasionally process our pork like this, more specialty, focused on brats, bacon and ground pork. We have cured bacon, ground pork, fresh and cheddar brats, hocks and chops here.

Video of our half hog cuts.

Costs of Hog + Processing

Let's talk about costs a little bit. It's really interesting to look at how we process the whole hog versus the half hog. The whole hog had a hanging weight of 153lbs, it was a small hog. The half hog had a hanging weight of 92lbs (the whole would have been 184lbs). Because of how we chose to cut the half hogs, with more speciality and processed items (brats) the processing costs were actually higher for the half hog. The brats and the smoking both added cost.

So, another way to save money on a bulk meat order is by how you cut it. Your going to pay more money for brats, patties/burgers, sausages, etc. in your pork/beef/bulk animals processing. This may be worth it for a time aspect for you, but it's a personal choice to balance out!

This is also an opportunity to learn how to make your own specialty items! We have made brats and sausage before (links and patties). It's fun, and messy (and a little gross, in a good way?? lol) and it takes time, but it's very rewarding. Major benefit, you control the ingredients!

Back to that cost, if you zoom in you can see the whole hog had processing costs of $163 and the half hog cost $181. This will be on top of the price of the animal paid directly to us, the farmers, which is $3.25/lb hanging weight; for these two animals that would have broken down to $497 and $299, respectively.

Yield is 65%+/- of the hanging weight, plus bones, organs, lard.


Stocking the Freezer

Here's a rare look at our freezers post harvest. I ALWAYS make sure to clean the freezer and rotate our meat, to ensure nothing gets lost or goes to waste. Our meat generally gets used within 1-1.5 years, sometimes 2 years and it's just fine and dandy.

Our small chest freezer.

We have one large chest freezer - mainly for veggies, oats, etc. which serves for back up meat overflow/chickens; one small chest freezer - primarily for meat/beef; and one upright deep freezer - meat, wild game, pork, beef, organs. Then of course the kitchen fridge-freezer.

Upright deep freezer.

Upright deep freeze door.

Hope this helps give you a good idea of what to expect when buying in bulk! We harvest small herds twice per year, offering opportunities up first to returning customers and those who've expressed interest. Email us directly if you'd like to be on that shortlist. Join below if you'd like to follow all updates from the farm!

Friday, September 3, 2021

It's Apple Season!

 Friends, it looks as thought I have been absolutely terrible about updating our website!! (Last post in May, oh boy.)

For the most timely updates join our mailing list (2-3 emails per month), following along on facebook or instagram, or stop by the farm store regularly to see what's in stock!

It looks as thought I missed raspberry season, plum season and the beginning of apple season on the blog here. We have been busy this whole time! You may have been following along.


Here are the most important updates:



Apples!

Apples are in stock at the farm store and available at the Saturday Mankato Farmers Market! Apples will be limited due to our crop loss, more limited varieties may only be available at the farm store. Shop early at the market for best selection.

Apple Cider

We are still pressing fresh cider! Watch for availability, as we don't stock this 100% of the time. (Hope to do a pressing this weekend!)

NEW Items

Plum Jam and Jelly are two NeW items!! These will be limited, seasonal items.

Organic pea shoots are available!! This is the earliest I have ever started growing them, as we needed to for a MN State Fair event. Well shazam, a success! Available at the market and farm store. Micros soon!


Farm Hop Open House

OPEN HOUSE coming up Sunday, September 19th 1-4 pm with our friends next door at Under the Sun Herbs.  *Event Link*




Sunday, May 30, 2021

Frost Damage in the Orchard


What looked like a promising year in the orchard has dramatically taken a different turn. We thought we had escaped the multiple frosts this spring while the apple trees were starting to bloom and then again frost during full bloom on some varieties. We were mistaken. The cold temps of May 10th and 11th during the bloom period caused substantial damage to the blossoms, in some varieties there may be little to no fruit at all.

As our farm has made changes over the years we have gradually shifted towards more fruit; we were aware of the increased risk in that transition. Well here we are today realizing that risk. It’s going to be a tough year on the farm financially, but the cost to our well being might be more. Brooke and I are going to have to have tough conversations about the farm operation and how it all works; basically what can we cut and how can we supplement. It’s all going to take creative thinking, better use of our resources and overall become more “lean”. While we could sit with our heads in our hands and feel sorry for ourselves that reaction will not help anything. We are as resilient and the perennial plants we care for. Things will definitely be different this year but I can already see the positive aspects of our situation.


We will be pausing our sign up of Apple Shares at this time. Please contact us if you would like to be on a wait list, if we are able to re-open sign up.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Fall Apple Shares Available!

 Fall Apple Share Offerings for 2021

You asked, so you got it - an extended option is now available! Plus more!!



Each week enjoy a 4 lb bag of fresh & local apples.
Each bag sports 1-2 varieties of our organic apples. A mix of standard, lesser known and old heritage types. We'll send out a short weekly newsletter, with apple facts, orchard notes and a recipe or two. Begins the first week of September.

Two pick up locations - the farm store (Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays), or Saturdays at the Mankato Farmers Market.

$54 :: 6 week Fall Apple Share
$70 :: 8 week Fall Apple Share *best price

*4 lbs not enough? The option to sign up for 2 shares is available.

*New Bonus ... One week opt for a 10lb bag of seconds instead (great for preserving). Also, get first dibs on other Fruit Shares that may become available (raspberries, apricots, plums).

Add to your Fall Apple Share Experience
Add on apple products and Winter Apple Shares.

Apples Plus!  ::  $30
Add more apple goodness to your Fall Apple Shares - includes 3 apple butter and 3 applesauce - 1 each week, picked up with your with Fall Apple Share. Available for Fall Apple Share members only.

November Apple Share  ::  $22
A 10 lb bag of table apples for fresh eating, baking or preserving. Primarily late-season storage varieties. This share will land 2-3 weeks following the 8 week Fall Apple Shares and 1-2 weeks before Thanksgiving.

December Apple Share  ::  $22
A 10 lb bag of table apples for fresh eating, baking or preserving. Primarily late-season storage varieties. This share will land a month after the November Apple Share and 1-2 weeks before Christmas.

Applesauce Share  ::  $65
A dozen jars of our clean-eating applesauce. Made with our delicious organic apples, a touch of local honey and organic lemon juice. Choose preferred month of pick up.

Apple Butter Share  ::  $18
A 4-pack of our Sweet Cider & Spice Apple Butter. Made with our organic apples, organic spices and a touch of local honey. Great to spread on toast, dress up oatmeal, yogurt or pancakes, or to craft into a delicious BBQ sauce for your ARF pork!



Please contact us at info@alternativerootsfarm.com or via Facebook with any questions.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Spring Renewal & Trepidation

The rapid change from winter to spring has created quite the buzz around the orchard.

Apricots have more flower buds than ever, apples went from “green tip” to “tight cluster” in 2 days and disease management went from a normal ramping up to turbo mode.
While we welcome spring renewal and rebirth, it keeps us on edge during the season of frost. Frost can dramatically affect the amount of fruit we have during a season, especially during this time.
Despite that trepidation we are hopeful for a fantastic year at the orchard!





Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Eggpocolypse!!!

 Eggpocolypse!!!

It’s our slow season, so the eggs tend to stack up. We need a few more egg customers to pop in the farm store and enjoy the happy hens hard work!!
Deliveries considered, by arrangement and depending on quantity.
$4/dz free ranged eggs, chickens raised outside with organic feed.
Thank you!!



Friday, March 26, 2021

Website Update In Progress

Hey folks! I haven't been too good about posting over here, but please watch for updates and more regular posts. Follow along on facebook and instagram as well.

The farm store is open year round Monday-Friday 9:00am - 7:00pm. We have plenty of eggs for Easter! The last of the winter greens will be in store likely until Easter.

We are looking forward to rhubarb, asparagus and green garlic this spring! 

Eggs, applesauce and apple butter are always in season.


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