Beyond The Bacon
Customers routinely tell us that our bacon is the best they’ve ever had, but the truth is, we’re in the pig business for a bigger reason. We see them as an asset, a tool, and a nutrient cycler for our pastures. As an organic farm, we are limited in our options when it comes to improving the marginal soil quality and weeds of some of our pastures. We can't, and don’t want to use chemical fertilizers nor herbicides on our land. The pig can convert the grains that we feed it into high quality manure fertilizer. As it consumes the grain (aka fertility from another farm) it also turns up the soil with its small plow-like nose. It then gobbles down weeds, roots, grubs, and really anything edible that stands in its way. In its wake is an open seedbed that we then plant annual and perennial grasses into for our cattle and sheep to graze. The bacon is just a byproduct.
The famous Jamon Iberico hams from Spain are so unique due to the abundant mast of acorns of their agro-silvo-pastoral system that is the Oak Dehesa. They are raised among these trees, consuming the acorns that litter the pastures. This provides their unique flavor profile that has made the pork from this area of the world so coveted. Here at Caney Fork Farms we are short on acorns, but have discovered that barley imparts a similar flavor as an acorn, and peas provide the fat stabilization that mimics that of an acorn-finished hog. The inspiration doesn’t stop here. We have planted thousands of oak trees and chestnuts that will eventually create the very Dehasa that motivated us.
Breeds For The Needs
Until the industrialization of agriculture, we saw the pig differently. We wanted the fattest pigs we could get. Fat lit our homes, helped us cook, and nourished our bodies in hard times. We’ve selected heritage breed hogs that haven’t lost their amazing fattening ability and have maintained their manageable size. The ease in which they build fat means that they need less grain and can utilize more forages in their diet. Their smaller size makes them gentler on the ground, live longer lives, and, well, make fantastic bacon. Our heritage hogs are a cross between a Mulefoot Boar and a Guinea Hog sow. This cross creates a distinctive flavor with a meat-to-fat composition unique to this pedigree.