Ok, If you are a “Hoytie-Toytie” wine snob….you are not going to like me or my blog. Save yourself some time and click on that little red “X” in the upper right hand corner. This is a story about how we ended up raising hogs (pigs, farmers call them hogs more than pigs) again, and how they end up in the hands of Chefs in and around the HOT emerging Cleveland local food scene.
Hi, Watcha' doin'?
I am a family farmer, winery owner and soon to be brewery owner along with my wife, brother-in-law and my in-law’s. Brace yourself we are incorporated so technically a “corporate farm” I guess, you have to be for liability concerns. I drive a 2000 F-350 with 194K+ miles on it, I bought my wife a “new car” last year it was a 2007. We don’t live large we work hard. We are a Winery with ADHD, basically I shoot pumpkins out of a cannon for a living and also build corn mazes.
Me, on the deck of our pumpkin cannon getting ready to fire.
I was scanning the web and stumbled across a article about a local Chef in Cleveland following his dream and opening a butcher shop behind the West Side Market. I thought cool, so I followed up and read about it. His name is Adam Lambert and is currently a chef at bar cento . He will open a butcher shop in the “Palace of Fermentation,” Sam McNulty’s multi-faceted project currently taking shape in the Culinary Arts Building behind the West Side Market. You can read the story here.
As I read the article I came to realize the hogs we raise end up with him via Fresh Fork Market ! But here is the story behind how we got back into raising Hogs…..
My brother in laws Steve and Todd getting ready to load some hogs.
We used to farm “large” about 15 years ago. 3,000 acres, milked 150 head of cows, trucks, grain lots of equipment. We eventually got run out by houses and low commodity prices. We sold stuff off and tried to survive. We opened a farm market and started raising small vegetables. My wife’s family has lived here (Marlboro) since the 1800′s. Her family has done everything, sheep, hogs, cows, dairy, tanned leather, taught school etc. etc. But one thing they had never done was “Agri-tourism”, corn mazes, pumpkin picking, hayrides and such.
2013 LoCo Motion corn Maze
After a few years corn maze’s were just not enough we needed to add more things for people to see and do. So we heard about racing pigs and thought we know pigs lets give it a try. But we don’t just race pigs…..we do NASHOG! The finest in Flat track pig racing in Ohio! We even built them a new track this year without a “Sin Tax”!
NASHOG race track
Our pigs have lots of room to move, run and have fun. They mostly just like to eat and sleep however. To train them to race you need cookies! Pigs like to eat pretty much the same stuff humans do and they run for Oreo’s!
"Pig Pile" soaking up some rays
We do “NASHOG” races on fall weekends starting at about noon and going till dusk. We get enough pigs so no one has to run too much but still have enough time to get cookies. They get a BIG shot of grain at the end of the day. Even giving them full feed they still grow slower than their buddies back at the farm who don’t get the opportunity to run the flat track every day. Maybe the stress of “celebrity” holds them back too? They do have lots of fans.
A small crowd catching a pig race
But at the end of the Corn Maze, Pumpkin Picking Season what is there to do with a bunch of highly trained athletes that have a bit of ego and celebrity? At first we took them to auction and took an absolute beating not even getting back our costs. It is the wrong time of the year for people to want pigs to feed out. So we took them to the home farm and started feeding them out ourselves for our freezers. We had few people buy one here or there but not too much of a consistent market for them.
Feeding time, that's all the time really.
That’s where Fresh Fork market and the patrons of Cleveland area restaurants and other customers of Trevor and Fresh Fork came in. Trevor starting buying our “Surplus Racing Pigs” and soon more. We starting raising hogs again year round now. Some regular breeds some special breeds depending upon what is asked for.
Now That's FAST FooD!
So thank you for supporting local folks doing cool new things and next time you sit down in Cleveland for a special dinner with friends, it may not be McDonalds…..But it still could be, “Fast Food”!