Spring Hill Farms

  (Newark, Ohio)
Heritage Breed Pastured Pork, Chickens, Grass Fed Beef
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Save Your Fuel Money Eat More Pork

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Tamworth Pigs Plowing
Here at Spring Hill Farms we don't like buying $4 a gallon gas anymore than you do.

We don't like buying gasoline or diesel at any price as far as that goes. That's one of the main reasons we employed Tamworth pigs to renovate our 25 year old over grown land back in 2004.

I had been trying to figure out how we were going to bring the briar infested land back to producing something more than multi-flora rose, rabbits and deer. 

Being raised on a farm I knew pigs had a bull dozer/industrial roto-tiller on the front and a manure spreader on the back. Of course in between is a whole bunch of good eatin'.

So why spend hundreds of dollars per hour to hire a dozer to clear the land? The only reason I could come up with was it would be faster and admittedly easier. Hire the dozer, go in afterwards and broadcast seed.

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Tamworth Swine Dozer

But I wasn't in a hurry and it looked like there was a good bit of vegetation the pigs could utilize.

Now for the part the dozer and equipment couldn't accomplish.

The pigs would add fertility to the soil as they cleared it. The pigs would also root the soil and loosen it up verses pack it down like the equipment would tend to do.

And finally, I've have never had bacon from a bull dozer!

So after I considered both options, I decided pigs were the way to clear land here at Spring Hill Farms.

If you think about it, it's much like farmers would have done before heavy equipment and cheap fuel. As farmers we are going to have to look at how things were done in the past and leverage them with the knowledge and some of the equipment we have now. (Like electric fence.)

We try to find ways to incorporate our animals natural behaviors into working for us. That philosophy is the exact opposite of the farmer who puts his hogs on concrete so they don't root.

The closer we can mimic natural patterns, the better it is for us, and the animals.

Until next time... 


 





 
 

Over Seeding Pasture for Pigs and Poultry

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Tilling Pasture
Pigs eat a lot of grass. Especially a bunch of
Tamworth pigs
that get fed limited amounts of grain.

In order to keep our pastures full of good grass we sometimes over seed with different types of grasses.

I ascribe to the saying "manage fescue and encourage clover."


What that means is some grasses such as fescue, are pretty aggressive when it comes to taking over a stand of grass. Clover on the other hand will normally die out after several years due to the fescue and other grasses crowding it out. Even if that's not the case clover still dies out after several years and needs replanting.

This particular pasture we are working on is really what most people would call their back yard. I want to utilize all the land I own. So I ask myself "why mow all this every week when I could ease some pigs up in here for a few days of intensive grazing?"

I then posed the same question to my wife! After all, it's gonna take some talking to get pigs within twenty feet of the back of her house.

Which brings up another point...Do you think I'd have a chance if she thought she was gonna smell pig manure?

When you look at pictures of our farm you notice we have neighbors on top of us. Our property is narrow and deep. Minimum amount of road frontage and goes back forever. There have been something like 18 houses built within the last five years around us. 


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Tearing up the sod.
If you look in this picture we are actually going behind my father-in-laws house because he likes to mow about as much as I do!

It is critical that we manage these lots so as to not offend anyone with sites or smells.

Most people who drive by our farm have no idea the number of pigs running around. Many don't know we even have pigs!

 

Compare that the old pre-1950's model of running pigs outside where everyone knew it because they could smell them a mile away. People are amazed when they come to visit at how they can't smell the pigs.

How do you accomplish this?

1) Move your pigs often to new grass.

2) Don't try to raise more pigs than your land can support.

I'll be talking about this more in future blogs. I have a lot of people who want to see how we manage these pigs here at the farm. I plan to video and blog some of this through the summer.

This ground was horrible when we first started running hogs and poultry over it. Slow but sure it just keeps getting better as we allow the pigs and chickens to fertilize it.

Until next time...

 

Watch a video of this while I ramble.


 
 

Are we Losing ground?

My last post was about the push to get government to release farmers from the CRP program so they could put acres set aside in the program back into grain production.

Here's a good video talking about the pros and cons of tilling the soil.

 

Watch Video

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More Land - More Grain

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More Acres
Source: Congressman Devin Nunes


Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and 25 of his House colleagues called on President Barack Obama to release willing farmers from their Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts in order to produce additional grain. With Americans facing rising food prices and government officials predicting the possibility of grain shortages, immediate action is necessary to enhance U.S. production. (see letter here)   “Americans deserve a government that plans for the future. That means responding to threats of grain shortages, not just predicting them. Releasing some land from CRP contract will provide an infusion of additional production that is desperately needed. It’s a decision the President can make and one he should act upon as quickly as possible,” said Rep. Devin Nunes.  

Record Production / Falling Stocks In 2011, grain production in the United States is expected to cover 92 million acres – one of the largest plantings in more than 50 years. Yet despite this enormous production, domestic supplies of grains are falling at the fastest rate ever recorded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).   Meanwhile, U.S. consumer food prices (for proteins) have risen by 6.8% in the past year, more than triple inflation. The costs of staple commodities are rising at an alarming rate, threatening the weakened U.S. economy but also pushing struggling families beyond their limits.  

Real Shortages Global demand for grains has soared and various national and international agencies are predicting that shortages are likely. As a result, many nations are stockpiling reserves. Throughout Asia and the developing world, governments are working to establish significant reserves. It is time for the U.S. government to recognize the crisis and take action.   Action Congressman Nunes and his colleagues believe it is essential for the President to act. The USDA can promote increased grain production by releasing willing farmers of arable land from the Conservation Reserve Program. There are 32 million acres currently out of production under CRP contracts. A significant amount of this land could be used to produce crops.


Thanks to Agweb for this article.


 

 
 

A Side of Beef - The True Cost Per Pound

Picture What's the true cost per pound when buying a side of beef or whole beef? For instance you see advertised grass fed beef for say $3.99 pound hanging weight.

So you read a bit further and see that a side of beef (hanging weight) is typically around 350 lbs. For an explanation of hanging weight click here.

 

SO…

 

$3.99 x 350 lbs = $1,396.50 You know what the side costs but the question that arises is something like:

 

So what cuts do I get?

 

How much meat do I get?

 

That is the real question you need answered to decide if your getting a deal you're satisfied with.

Many consumers have never bought beef this way. They get their beef and find they ended up with 55% of the hanging weight.

So the true cost per pound looks like this:

350 lbs hanging weight which yields approximately 55% for a take home weight of  192.50 lbs.

$1,396.50 /192.50 lbs  = $7.25 per lb packed weight (take home weight).

Before you buy beef in bulk by the hanging weight:

Ask the farmer for these numbers! They should be keeping track of the yields from their beef. If they are not, and can't answer your questions, you have no way of knowing what your final cost per pound will be.

These numbers are averages and not all beef yields the same. If you don't know what the typical yield is from the farmer's beef it is a shot in the dark. Many farmers are not well versed in selling freezer beef so they aren't familiar with what the yield is from their beef.

I have seen many farmers who actually sell small amounts of beef at a lower price per pound than what it would cost to buy a side!  This tells me they probably have no idea what their beef yields.

Why would you buy a half a beef at $7.25 per pound packaged weight when you could buy smaller amounts say a 50 lb box for $6.00 per pound?

Using the example above you could buy the same beef in 50 lb boxes for $1,155.00 That’s a savings of $241.50 I'm sure you can find better use for that money!

If you purchase a side of beef from Spring Hill Farms we will show you the numbers on our beef. You will have a very good idea what your final cost per pound will be.

So before you purchase a side of beef, get the true cost per pound.

Until next time….


 

 
 

Can GM Crops Feed the World?

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One of the justifications for the use of genetically engineered crops is that it can eradicate world hunger. Clearly, the production of adequate food supply is a noble goal, but the supposition that we can achieve this goal through the use of GM crops is seriously flawed.

"The largest study in the world that dealt with this, which included about 400 scientists, was assembled by the United Nations and the World Bank into something called the IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development). After a long set of studies that were peer-reviewed, portions were sent around and I received elements of the final report," Dr. Bereano says.

"The IAASTD found little evidence to support a conclusion that genetic engineering or modern biotech are well suited to meet the needs of small scale and subsistence farmers who were of course feeding huge numbers of people, especially in the Third World where hunger is so evident."

He also accurately points out that we have hunger right here in the US, despite our grain surpluses and despite the fact that we use genetic engineering more than any other country. Food production and hunger is not necessarily a simple one-to-one equation. There's also the issue of not having enough money to buy the food that is readily available!

Additionally, GM crops sure aren't less expensive than conventional!

On the contrary, GM seeds are getting increasingly expensive, as are the prerequisite pesticides—not to mention the fact that farmers are forced to buy new GM seeds every year, opposed to saving the best seeds for the next planting, which has been done since the beginning of agriculture. The increased expense of farming with GM seeds has likely already caused more than 180,000 Indian farmers to commit suicide when faced with insurmountable debt, failed crops, and no money to buy new seed.

Not surprisingly, Monsanto and the United States, along with a couple of other countries refused to sign off on the final report that was ultimately issued by the UN…

On the other hand, studies have repeatedly confirmed that farming methods that promote healthy soils and biodiversity can dramatically increase production and yield. For example, as recently as March 8, the United Nations issued a press release with the headline: Eco-Farming Can Double Food Production in 10 Years.

It states:

"Small-scale farmers can double food production within 10 years in critical regions by using ecological methods,a new U.N. report shows. Based on an extensive review of the recent scientific literature, the study calls for a fundamental shift towards agroecology as a way to boost food production and improve the situation of the poorest.

"To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available," says Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report. "Today's scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live -- especially in unfavorable environments."

Agroecology applies ecological science to the design of agricultural systems that can help put an end to food crises and address climate-change and poverty challenges. It enhances soils productivity and protects the crops against pests by relying on the natural environment such as beneficial trees, plants, animals and insects.

"To date, agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase of 80% in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116% for all African projects," De Schutter says…

"We won't solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers' knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development."

Best of all, these agro-ecological approaches do not pose any danger to the environment or to human health whatsoever—quite the contrary!

So, wouldn't it make sense to focus on the safest, most beneficial, and most effective methods of food production instead of dabbling around with unproven high-risk technology that may or may not provide any benefit whatsoever to anyone besides the patent holders?

Unfortunately, the fact this isn't happening is a testament to the immense power of the biotech industry, led by Monsanto, whose corporate officials rotate in and out of the White House administration, the FDA and other regulatory agencies. Read the full article here.


Comments: Here at Spring Hill Farms we have never bought into the theory that genetically modified foods can be the answer to feeding the world. 400 scientists came to the same conclusion. A huge thanks to Dr Mercola for sharing this information.


 

 
 
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