Orchard_BlossomsWe are rich with natural resources here at the farm. It’s almost as if food falls from the sky. In the orchards it actually does fall from the sky for a few months in Autumn, sweet fruit that delights us as well as the goats and the chickens and the ducks.  We’re all suckers for sugar, and we’re grateful for the apples and plums that rain down. But protein and fat is harder to come by. And protein and fat are what you need when you’re raising pigs.

Piggles

So how can we get more protein to fall from the sky we ask ourselves? We are less than thrilled about buying massive sacks of processed grain to feed our pigs, and are searching for an alternative. Don’t get me wrong, the pigs themselves love it – they’d choose processed grain over heirloom apples any day of the week. But there are some less than ideal agricultural practices in much of our grain growing in this country, and we would like to send our money elsewhere.

Let me rephrase that: we would like not to send our money anywhere.

Hazelnuts

So back to the original question of how to get protein in palatable little packets of feed to drop from the sky. Oh, and if those packets could also make the pork taste even more delicious, that would be great. Sounds too good to be true, right. Time will tell.  We have planted white oaks, hazelnuts and walnuts around our pastures in hopes that in a few decades or so, we’ll have massive mast crops of delectable nuts on which to finish our hogs.

Oscar_Relaxin

It takes a bit of forward thinking, but once they come into bearing we’ll see hundreds of pounds of nuts drop on the ground every year for the pigs to clean up. The massive trees will give shade and the deep roots will not only mine nutrients, but will be too deep for the pig snouts to damage too severely. You’ll have to follow our posts for the next 20 years to see if it’s a success or not, so in the meantime enjoy watching our trees grow alongside us.

Spring_Smiles