Three hundred years removed from the forests of the Shire of Berk, England the storied Berkshire lineage would continue with our Uncle David as he removes the backseat of his spanking new ’71 Lincoln and reseats with straw mats then departs Belmont, Wisconsin for New York State. There, a pair of prize Berkies joins him for the ride back home with cheeseburgers for all to get by. A true story which speaks to the temperate disposition of the Berkshire, but also to the dedication of this Husbandman who carried forward the development of the Berkshire to derive the highest of muscle quality and finely laced intramuscular fats. Note that all Flavour and vital nutritional balance is delivered through the abundantly interlaced fat.
Wherein pastured pork risks misnomer and the difference it makes. The misnomer entails the suitability of grasses for the hog, when, as a mono-gastric creature it really is no more suited to grazing upon grasses than you or I. And as the modern hog is the descendent of woodland landraces and not of the grasslands Fox Valley Berkshire instead seeks replication of the forest floor with an extensive paddock overlain to the deep with leaves still littered with all the goodies one would expect such as acorns and black walnuts. Still, after a manner Fox Valley Berkshire does raise grass fed hogs but rather by symbiosis of sorts where our dairy cows harvest the lush grasses and produce their rich milk that in turn is fed to the Berkies and supped with great relish. A bonus: Our pastured hen’s eggs considered blemished are also fed and received with same.
Beyond the baseline diet of fine ground corn and soybeans grown by our neighbors in conventional low-input fashion, the hogs of Fox Valley Berkshire enjoy and find their relish in a number of vegetable fodders produced in season with sustainable practices. This includes beets with tops, cabbages and turnip tops, sweet and white potato, watermelon, sweet corn and clover. Wild harvested fare from the farm’s margins includes lambs quarter, mallow, purslane and red root amaranth.
‘Do not let us seek after a Nature devoid of qualities but rather regard the conditions of existence with which a thing is clothed. Try to take away by reason each of the qualities a thing possesses and you will arrive at nothing’. These sage words delivered around 360A.D.would warn too against so much of modern agricultural production where indeed has often been stripped the cloth of cleanliness, sunlight and cool respite, the daily forage, play and more social expression. What is the measure of a back scratch by the hands and brush of their stewards? Of a ball given to roll and troupe to chase? Wallows in which to bathe and cool? These and a great many other considerations while providing no clear quantitative reason for their exercise do seek to abide the qualitative aspects of the hog’s life. Here, the complex of wellness and social needs. It is the reason for the replicate of the forest floor and for warm, free and sunlit housing, bedded deeply and cleaned of routine. It is the reason their meals are served to the warmth appropriate to the day. And not as an invariant bland put before them. It is the reason a whole, Integrated Agriculture is practiced by Fox Valley Berkshire. A circle of growth, senescence and return entraining soil, water, crops, and livestock with annual solar input and building humus upon the years producing crops and livestock of high vitality. It is your patronage that carries the work of stewardship forward. For in the final analysis everyone is an Agriculturalist every time they go before a meal.