Melo Farms

It's all swine with us!


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Gestation Crates - Our Case Against

Posted on May 1, 2012 at 2:25 AM

Gestation crates made national news a few months back. I loved the energy of the e-waves, calls to action to end the production practice. Well the fervor has died down - and I don't know of a single factory that has removed a single gestation crate. Focusing on the positive, the attention did get several large corporations to begin looking at mandating producer’s end use BUT as I write this today there is no change.


To anyone who knows us our stance on this practice is not surprising. But I feel the need to educate about what it's like to be a girl pig in a factory farm. From the time a girl pig is sexually mature, around 6 months old she is bred and lives in a gestation crate. I don't know why the mere name doesn't make a person's skin crawl. As we near Mother's Day can you imagine a human being confined to a crate that doesn't allow for the simple act of turning around? A pig pregnancy lasts 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Somewhere around the 3 month and 3 week mark the mom to be is moved to a farrowing crate to prepare for birthing. The farrowing crate is no larger it's simply differently scaled on the outside to accommodate piglets to be confined closely with Mom after birth.


Did I mention the insane cruelness of these enclosures? Concrete floors, no space to walk, sleep in communal packs or play. In a production facility a girl pig is simply a means to an end - giving birth to a saleable carcass or more breeding stock. And a girl will go from the farrowing crate back to the gestation crate to repeat the process until she is 'culled' when no longer useful. This is not a 4 month anomaly but an entire lifetime of confinement. Hour after hour, day after day, month after month and year after year.


I have been in a production hog facility. It was where I got the hands on training to prepare for our own on farm births. My single day long training was instrumental in understanding production hog practices. But my intent is not to beat on the production machine but raise up those who do it right.


My ask to anyone who reads this, if you don't buy your pork from us PLEASE check the practices of who you do buy from. There are other small farmers just like us that don't use crates. Support them. Only by supporting a -0- crate tolerance will we change life for all these girls.


I love each of our sows and gilts and the freedom they enjoy. Our girls have something that so many of their sisterhood should have dignity, honor and respect.


For more information on the issue I invite you to check this link



Life on the Farm - 3 Short Videos

Posted on July 17, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Son Scott and his girl Julie gifted us with their time and talents on their home visit last month. We now have a YouTube page with three farm videos. Click and enjoy a little life on the farm!

A Reflection on Rotational Grazing and Life Lived Pigs

Posted on July 1, 2011 at 6:47 PM

We had oldest son and his girlfriend home with us a few days this past week. We had such a great time sharing our progress over the past year +. 4-week old piglets in the social area in the barn, one herd in each of three pastures and mobile hoop houses with chickens of varying week’s age. Lots more one on time for all the different herds since it's usually just Lynn and I making the rounds.


And that brings me to my reflection. What do all these different pastures give us and why do we spend time each day with each pig. Since our herds have each other to play, sleep, eat and wallow with do they really need us? I think yes from both a social and practical perspective.


Practical: Each day we 'see' with our eyes, hands and ears if each Berk is healthy, sporting an injury or feeling puny. The last two have happened and while the usual treatment is time and rest it's a watchful eye to benchmark any change in case there is something serious that needs tending.


Social: Well at the end of 6 months it's time to climb into the trailer and go to the processor. Not my fav day but made easier by our daily time. Alive, our pigs are around 250 pounds of dense, center of gravity perfectly placed muscle, so there's no coercing these boys and girls into doing anything they don't want to do. We don't have electric prods, we don't hog tie, so it's well established trust and communication with each pig that gets them into the trailer.


And this is the vast chasm of difference between factory raisers and us. I'd like to say at its basest level it's humanity. Yes it's time, work and attention. Yes it's carefully managing the load we place on our land. And it's very, very personal. But all this work makes me thankful each day I have the luxury of eating meat that's free from chemicals, free from cruelty and was full of happy, barking, oinking, running, social, sun drenched, mud wallowing life.





Shedding the Winter and Bringing the Heat!

Posted on May 31, 2011 at 6:38 PM

Did we just jump right in to the 80s and 90s with a vengeance, yikes. Our Berkshire herd has taken some generous siestas these past few days and the chickens have stayed on the grass in their hoop houses to avoid tanning, lol.


With all the heat we have a cool solution to quick and tasty meal planning! Next Saturday see us the Detroit Eastern Market for 8oz packages of fully cooked, cubed ham to add to chilled salads or fruit and cheese trays for easy, nutritious and tasty snacks!  All Berkshire, fully smoked, -0- nitrates or msg.



Bette & Kathleen - Introducing our Mulefoot girls

Posted on April 25, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Our newest girls arrived Saturday, Bette (ears straight up) and Kathleen (ears flopped forward), here's a bit of footage. They're just getting to know us and aren't cuddly like the rest of the herd - yet - but they have found their new favorite mud spa ;>;)


Re the names; it's a nod to Tom Waits, someone Lynn and I both admire. More details on request but basically it's a theme we can live with!


These two girls are really special as they represent a bring back from the brink of extinction. We are now an active part of conserving this heritage breed which is only one of two breeds listed as critically rare. When this breed came to the ALBC notice as of 2006 there were fewer than 200 purebred hogs documented. Most of these originated in the Holliday herd of Missouri, which is believed to be the last purebred herd in existence American Livestock Breeds Conservancy .


You won't see any Mulefoot pork from us in the foreseeable future as we will be concentrating on the raising, breeding and farrowing of these two rare girls. In 2012 if all goes well, we will have a few piglets for sale if you are interested in stewarding this breed back to healthy numbers! Then mid to late 2012 we may have a couple of Mulefoot for consumption as the flavor of this breed of pig is made for savoring! There's a small write up by the folks at Slow Food Arc of Taste for more information.


I'll keep posting to the website and FB page about how we're getting on in doing our part to preserve and thrive this unique pig breed. Oh, and advances on how I'm doing with the cuddly part too!

Circle of Life on Melo Farms

Posted on April 21, 2011 at 11:12 AM

 These past two weeks have seen Lynn and I through the incredible highs of our first Berkshire piglet births here at Melo Farms! It's been a joy to steward these girls during the birthing process - farrowing for us farmers. The sleep deprived nights of 4 to 3 to 2 hour shifts checking for impending births to the actual ushering in to the world deliveries.


I won't sugar coat it though, there were tremendous lows. This was a difficult birthing season. Only 3 of our 5 gilts was actually pregnant, those precious three went days past their due dates, and over a 7 day span of deliveries two gilts only delivered 1 viable piglet each and our champ, Nellie, gave us 6 unbelievably healthy large piglets. Each birth was assisted as we had too large, breech and two in the canal at once presentations. And unavoidable, sad losses.


As we've spent these last 10 days reveling in the growth and carefully stewarding these 8 new lives we also prepared to say goodbye to our two girls, Hildy and Molly. These two were slated to be of the five that were our first birthers but fate has a given them a different role in our farm. These two will fill current orders, be our entry offering as we begin sales at Detroit Eastern Market on May 7th and will begin our farm-to-table relationships with a few select restaurants earlier than we could have expected.


Those who are about to die we salute you, thank you and are humbled. In addition to that, these girls and the ones who will follow are the answer to this Omnivore's dilemma and hopefully yours. I will be grateful that you ate our fresh feed, vegis, fruit and pasture and that you lived pampered, stress free, healthy days as I cook you for friends and family. And, I will be inordinately proud to sell this healthy, well raised, life lived pork to our customers. Circle of life.

So how does farm fresh, fertilized, heritage eggs sound to you

Posted on March 16, 2011 at 10:46 PM

Our Melo Farms vision is mainly based on sustainable pig farming with a goal toward farm to table. But all plans, especially those involving nature and the earth, must be layered and mutually beneficial. So it is with us and it's why we now have an awesome but small flock of 20 Brahma Light laying hens.

When dreaming about my ideal flock I realized my main criteria boiled down to this: cold hardy, gentle disposition, and on the Conservancy list My soap box - be the change - and in this case save the dwindling breeds that have fallen out of favor as we raced to commercialization. The Brahma Lights, though hard to find and spendy, were found arrived here on the farm as day old chicks August 2010 and have grown and thrived.

The hens have a mobile house, the style that allows for moving to greener pastures often. Their job is to control the grass and weeds, scratch and work the soil - and between you and me eat every single spider and spider egg they can find with their cute little hardworking beaks. I also rely on them to fertilize and enrich the soil for future healthy plant growth. In turn we get over a dozen large brown eggs a day. The goal of course is to sell the excess eggs, which for us is about a dozen a day, to cover the cracked corn we treat them to and winter supplemental feed when they're indoors, safe, warm but unable to graze.

Since we raise everything to a mind of what we want to eat ourselves I'm attracted to the notion that giving the girls regular treats of flax seed helps boost their egg's omega-3 nutrients. And each time I crack open one of those luscious, thick, deep yellow yolked eggs I see the goodness of what each hen has consumed.

Also we have a grand rooster that tries his best to ensure all the eggs are fertilized. Since conservancy is in our mission we sell hatching eggs to perpetuate this gentle and majestic breed.

And when our grandson and granddaughter retrieve warm eggs from under calm, large, healthy hens I'm reminded of the other multi-layered benefit of starting this farm later in our life - we are all finding joyful moments of discovery we never could have imagined.

So multi purpose, mutually beneficial and sustainable. And about that dozen eggs a day - call me - I have some to sell you:)



Spring Dreams = Heirloom Seeds

Posted on March 15, 2011 at 10:20 PM

It's March and my hopeful green soul looks out at our garden to-be area and my eyes see little hillocks of snow surrounded by waterlogged mushy ground. It's not planting season, not even close. But I finally let my fingers to the shopping this morning to feed the promise of earthy treats to come.

I found an awesome heritage seed site and after ordering $50 worth of seeds at $2 and $2.50 a pack it was a wonderful shock to find their shipping is was only $3 for this bounty of possibility.

So sharing the goodness check out this socially and planet responsible company . And look for updates on how does our garden grow after May. Come July you'll be able to stop on by and get a wonderful assortment of organically grown produce to go with your succulent Berkshire pork!



Berkshire Flavor

Posted on March 14, 2011 at 7:15 PM

I can speak to the enjoyment of raising this specific breed of pigs but I'm still developing my vocabulary around describing the taste of Berkshire pork. Just a couple of weeks ago I slow cooked a ham for my foodie sis to portion out for meals, soups and sandwiches. We are veterans of the store bought, heavily smoked ham where you prepare to back off adding any salt and avoid saving juices as they're just too 'cured' flavored.

I baked one of our 8 pound fully smoked, -0- nitrate, -0- msg hams. After 6 hours at 175 degrees I sliced into a hot succulent, juicy ham for supper. I carved the leftover ham into super thin slices for sandwiches and small cubes for adding to scalloped potatoes and cheddar cheese potato soup. We also used the bone to flavor a batch of 15 bean soup.

We yummed, appreciated and marveled at the delectable treat but this link gives the meat justice in articulating and differentiating the taste of this specific heritage breed.