In the past we have grown a pig. We would visit a local farm in the spring and buy a little piggie and grow the pig all summer long. The first year that we did this ,we had a source of slop from a local restaurant which reduced the cost of growing the pig. We also were able to get sour milk from a local farmer. The pig got any scraps from the garden and canning season. We did buy some feed for the pig. In the fall, usually late October, early November, hubby would butcher the pig. We figure that our cost for growing the pig to butcher size was about 350.00. The following year our slop source dried up, the farmer was charging for sour milk and feed prices skyrocketed when the price of a barrel of oil reached 147.00. Our costs were significantly more than the year before. We spent about 500.00 for the pig that year. Now granted, the meat from the pig lasted a whole year and compared to the cost of a half pig from the farmers market; which was 400.00, we saved some money.
Our whole approach to meat has been that we want it to be local, we want to know where it comes from and we don't want to eat a lot of it. So, given our period of flux, we decided that we did not want to grow a pig this year but we also did not want to invest the 400.00 on a half a pig. So, for now, we are buying a few pounds of meat from a local farm a couple of times a month. This is usually ground beef and stew beef. Our local farmer's market has a winter market once a month and we will buy chicken there. We eat meat about once a week. It is usually included in a soup or hot dish. When we cook a roast or a roasting chicken every things gets used. First a meat and potatoes sort of meal, then a soup or enchiladas ( or both) and then a stock is cooked and canned for soups later.
If we decide to grow a pig in the future we hope to share the pig with another person to defray the costs. It really is a lot of meat and we do not eat that much of it. We would also grow a couple of crops, such as pumpkins and mangles to finish the pig on. We would also forage acorns for it as well.
We have moved to natural grains for our sheep. It is a mix of corn, oats, barley and molasses. This is a feed mixture that can be feed to all animals which means that we can purchase it in bulk and keep our feed costs down and feed it to any other critters we may have. It also is partially, locally sourced grains. We pondered organic feeds but they are really pricey. We also do not want to use commercial feed pellets because we really want to know what our animals are eating.
As for dairy that is a mix bag from many sources. We eat Cabot Cheese which is a co-op that buys milk from Maine. We drink Oakhurst milk which is also the distributor for Moo MilkAnd I buy organic raw milk from the natural foods store to make yogurt. Kate's homemade butter is produced in Maine.
I have approached yogurt making off and on over the years. But I recently have begun making it on a regular basis when I realized that if I bought a quart of yogurt at the store it was nearly three dollars for the quart but if I buy the organic milk I can make two quarts of yogurt for 3.00. No brainer. And, I am not trying to figure out what to do with all those yogurt containers. I buy my culture from Dairy Connection. I bought Yogourmet when I started. It can be found in the refrigerated section of the healthfood store. From the yogurt, I can make yogurt cheese.
But my home dairy pursuits may be expanding. We have some friends in town that want to get a family cow. They called to see if we would be interested in buying milk from them. I said that we would be. So soon, we will be getting several gallons of raw milk a week from them. It is my hope to start making mozzarella cheese with some of this milk. I think I will start with this kit. Some of the reading that I have done says that you can freeze mozzarella cheese so this is something that would be easy to make in several batches a month. Our friends also have a cream separator so we will also be able to get cream to make butter and ice cream!
As for eggs. Well, alas, the beautiful barred rock above is from our flock from last year. But when we put our house on the market we passed our hens and roosters on to a friend. So for now we buy local eggs from the local feed store. As soon as we are settled we plan to get some more ladies ( but no gents) and we will have eggs again.
Next week I will discuss veggies and fruits.