Thursday, January 30, 2014

How to put a price on our pigs?

We purchased our piglets from a local farm. They were born to two happy, healthy parents who grew up on that same farm, foraging in Hudson Valley woods, living in spacious huts with access to plenty of sun, shade and water. When the piglets came to our farm, we gave them the same treatment. They had their own house and fresh forest ground to root around in for acorns and insects. They roamed and slept and pranced around all day in our woods. They had fresh water every day. We made mud pits for them in the summer heat so they could cool down. We fed our pigs grain and supplemented it with delicious table scraps that came from our kitchen and yours. When it came time, we brought them to a clean, family-run facility that prides itself on its humane practices and attention to detail.

Now, we have their delicious, carefully-raised meat to share with you. If you’ve only ever eaten pork from a grocery store, you will be utterly shocked by the difference in quality and taste. The meat is redder and flavorful. The fat is melt-in-your-mouth.

We’re a small operation. We were able to keep track of every expense we put into raising our two pigs. The price of our cuts reflects the price it costs small, sustainable growers to raise meat in this country.

The intensive pig farming that happens in the U.S. which raises domestic pigs to slaughter weight indoors in massive structures, on GMO-corn-feed, with antibiotics to encourage growth, and with few, if any, opportunities to be a pig raises animal welfare concerns. This is the standard way that we raise meat to feed our nation. And this is the standard meat that a majority of us feed to our families. Learn more about it and consider trying humanely, sustainably raised meat. You’ll pay more in dollars. But you may decide it’s worth the benefits.

Pork sale!

Good news! Longhaul Farm now has pork available for purchase. You might have seen our happy pigs foraging or roaming through the woods of our farm this past season - this is as local as it gets. All cuts were flash frozen at their peak freshness. Available cuts and pricing are listed below.

We will be “open” to sell pork this Friday, January 31, from 11am to 7pm and Saturday, February 1, from 9am to 2pm. Just come on by.

Enjoy some breakfast sausage patties in the morning… cook up some delicious pulled pork or loin chops for Superbowl Sunday… enjoy a slow Sunday roast… or stock up your freezer for an upcoming party…  and we have delicious recipe ideas to share.

Pork cuts (size of cuts)
Loin roast (4-6 lbs)
Pork butt roasts, boneless (3-5 lbs)
Rib roasts (4-6 lbs)
Shoulder roast (5-8 lbs)
Ham steaks (1-2 lbs)
Pork loin chops (1-3 lbs; packages of 2)
Fresh pork belly (1-2 lbs) *
Fresh ham (10-12 lbs)
Fresh hocks (2-3 lbs)
Breakfast sausage, pattie-style (1 lb)
Feet (3-4 lbs)
Tail (1-2 lbs)
Leaf lard or fatback (3-6 lbs)
Neck bones (2-4 lbs)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Please join our 2014 CSA community!

What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)? In CSA, a farm offers "shares" or memberships to the public. In return for your investment you receive a weekly box of freshly harvested produce throughout the growing season, typically from June to September/October.

What are your member options? We offer two membership options:

(1) Household share membership: Whatever is seasonal and harvestable, we’ll share with you. The weekly box should feed 2-3 vegetarian adults or a family of 3-4 with mixed diets and include a variety of 5-15 items, season and weather-permitting. Household share price: $700.
--> Split shares are also available. For a small farm with limited hands, a ‘split share’ will make harvesting more manageable.  You may split your share with a friend or neighbor. Or, if you’d like to split but don’t have anyone in mind yet to share with, we can do the pairing up for you. People often split shares in two ways: (1) every-other-week pick-ups; or (2) dividing weekly pick-ups with each other. Contact us for more information. Split-share price: $350.
(2) Community share membership: Receive a weekly household share of vegetables (see [1] above), plus anonymously subsidize shares for families who don’t have the means to become members themselves. Community share price: $1,350 ($700 for full share + $650 for subsidized share).

What kinds of vegetables will CSA members receive? Members will receive a variety of seasonal vegetables - here's a tentative list:
Late spring
Early fall
Brussels sprouts
Bok choy
Cherry tomatoes
Chinese cabbage
Broccoli raab
Collard greens
Mustard greens
Green beans
Tatsoi cabbage
Herbs (dill, sage, etc.)
Heirloom tomatoes
Sweet potatoes
Swiss chard

Peppers (hot and sweet)

Summer squash
Swiss chard
Tomatoes for canning
Winter squash

When and where are pick-ups? Pick-ups are on the farm on either Tuesday or Friday afternoons (4-6pm), your choice.

Will Longhaul Farm’s CSA be different from other CSAs? We follow a similar model of CSA as most local, organic farms. The main difference between our CSA and others is that our CSA will be small-scale, offering up to 30 memberships per season. That means we can provide more individual attention to you as members and collaborate on ideas for improving the current CSA model. We hope our smallness leads to more flexibility and a more satisfying season for both us and our members.

How you can become a member: Space is limited. Please contact us at or (845) 424-6277 to become a member. We offer two payment options: (1) full-pay: pay your membership fee by February 15, 2014 – this option gives us the most freedom as growers because we can rely on early resources throughout the season; or (2) pay in 2 installments: pay half of your membership by February 15, 2014 and the other half by June 1, 2014. If you would like to request additional payment options, just contact us and we will work something out.

Other ways you can participate in Longhaul Farm’s season:

(1) Buy Longhaul Farm naturally grown, pasture-raised meat and eggs:
  • Chicken: $6/lb - Reserve your chickens for $15 per bird
  • Turkey: $8/lb - Reserve your holiday turkey for $50 per bird
  • Pork: pricing depends on cut - Reserve your pork for $50 down
  • Eggs: $5/dozen - Available year-round
(2) Join us for our on-farm dining experience that is The Cottage Supper Club: enjoy a multiple course meal dictated by the season. Coming in spring... dates to follow.

(3) We will hold classes on food preserving, food preparation, food waste, gardening skills and other educational issues. There will be a fee for participation in the classes. We are looking forward to these small group gatherings where we can share ideas and learn a skill or two together. We will send out more information regarding 2014 classes in the coming months.

Supporting our neighbors with local, nutritious food and a spirit of community is an important part of Longhaul Farm’s mission that we look forward to fulfilling throughout the year. If you have any questions or would like to join, please be in touch: call us at (845)424-6277, email us at, or just do it the old fashioned way and drop by at 69 South Mountain Pass.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The bushel basket

I agree it is a sad fact that our pigs are no longer with us, but I write this post for edification, for others who might have to corral their swine into a vehicle of sorts to transport them to their final destination.

* * * * *

We read in several reliable sources, and listened to the sage advice of experienced livestock farmers, to leave double the time you would expect to load your pigs. So with an 8am appointment at Hilltown Pork on January 2nd, we spent the evening of our first day of 2014 hanging out in the woods with our two 6-month-old, 300-pound pigs. After rigging up a truck+cap (forgoing the trailer since a snowstorm was predicted for transport-time), we collected our most delicious compost buckets ever to entice the pigs into the truck’s bed. Just Jason and I, we did manage to get our heavier, greedier, not-as-smart pig to follow the slop bucket and Jason into the bed, chowing down on some beef liver that yours truly cooked up just for the occasion. But then, the not-as-smart farmers lost it all when our second pig squealed, freaked out by the sight of the confined space, sensing what was to come, signaling to the other one to break free. And that’s what they did. Broke free. Around 5pm, in the last of the daylight, into the woods, with the electric fence down, and two tired, broken-down farmers silently watching them graze the new ground they found themselves on. What could we do?

We let them go to bed in their pig hut. That’s what they wanted after all, it was bedtime.

Getting an appointment for slaughter was a difficult task. And the coming days of winter did not promise any easier moving opportunities, with snow cover to come, bad driving conditions, and frigid temperatures forecasted. We knew we had to get them into the truck and upstate on the morning of January 2nd. So we called three neighbors, who at 8pm that night, agreed to meet us in our fields at 7am the next morning.

I didn’t really sleep that night, having lost my dignity trying to move the pigs to no avail, despite being physically exhausted from the work of pushing such strong, heavy beasts, and running through how I thought the morning’s corral would go. We had the “V” all ready, the corralling boards made up nice with handles and everything, we re-read our reliable sources, called again our experienced farmer friend, and felt confident that using panels to calmly nudge the pigs to their destination and block their sideview so they could go nowhere but forward would take us 5 adults just a few tries, with assured success.

The pigs were still sleeping at 7:05, as daylight just broke. They usually sleep until 8 or 9, but Jason was sure they’d wake up with the second batch of delicious food scraps we brought up. And wake up they did, following him the 200 feet all the way to the narrow path we created that led to the truck after one final left turn at the big maple tree.

But that’s where it ended. The sight of the red truck sent one pig straight into the electric fence, rooting it up but being shocked as he did so. In five seconds, they were both free. Again. Into the woods, with the electric fence down, and five shocked people looking on. We thought we had had them. But my confidence sank after the previous night’s failure. We spent the next hour and a half using the “V”, our panel boards, long sticks, calm voices, patience, petting, prodding, tantalizing buckets of food slop, to lure them back our way. Maybe we’d get just one in again, and that would have been enough for me. Maybe we’d get none in and we’d have to seal the deal on our own farm in the coming days or weeks.

But thank god for youtube. (never though I’d say it…). Frank had done some research the previous night and told us about the bushel-basket-over-the-head trick: when a pig’s head is covered, he wants nothing else but to back out of that bucket. And if you have someone daring enough to keep that bucket on, and another person daring enough to steer the pig backwards by the tail, you might just get your pig to where you want it to go.

So we did. In 2 minutes, Frank and Jason got our big one backed up 200 feet into the truck, taking it but 3 seconds after we slammed the bed door shut to find some more food we left for it to settle down and munch. But could we really get the second? Could we time the door drop perfectly, without scaring the captured one to break free?

Yes, we could. Frank and Jason got the smaller but smarter one backed up 195 feet to the edge of the truck door, Luke and I dropped the bed door and raised the paneling, the pig’s foot slipped under the door and down the stone wall it was propped up on, and Frank and Jason bench-pressed that 300-pound pig into the bed as we slammed that door fast. Pig is magnificently strong, but man can be surprisingly stronger.

Then we were off for upstate. I’ll spare you the rest of the story of the treacherous road conditions and slaughterhouse arrival. But I’ll tell you… throwing food scraps into the “pig bucket” just isn’t the same now.

Lessons learned:
(1)   When corralling your pigs, if you must: listen to the old-time farmer who swears by his bushel baskets.
(2)   You must: learn to do it all yourself, for the honor of eating your meat. Next year on Longhaul… raise, thank, slaughter, butcher, eat.