Recently, I took out one of our Hickory Smoked Hams to make ham sandwiches. My eyes must have been bigger than my stomach, because I had quite a bit left over. So with the ham, I made ham salad. I served it as an appetizer before Sunday dinner on crostini and it was a major hit!
2 Pounds Circle B Ranch Hickory Smoked Ham.
1 Cup Sweet Pickle Relish (I used bread and butter pickles I had made)
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Celery Seeds
1 ½ Teaspoons Yellow Mustard
1 Teaspoon Refrigerated Horseradish
½ Teaspoon PT Garden Lemon Pepper
1 French loaf to Make Crostini (optional)
Cut the ham into cubes, place in a food processor and process until coarsely ground. Stop occasionally to scrape the sides.
Place ground ham in a bowl, stir in pickle relish and remaining ingredients.
Who knew a few years ago that John and I would be in Missouri raising Heritage Berkshire Hogs? When John came home and suggested our property was conducive to raising Berkshire Hogs, I immediately imagined hogs knee-deep in muck and slathered with mud—and a really awful odor. So when we went on a winter tour of a hog ranch in SE Missouri that raises hogs outdoors on pasture, I was pleasantly surprised. There was no odor. The hogs were not in mud. Yet, it still took a couple of hog farm visits for me to be convinced. Once I was convinced that we could raise hogs without hogs knee deep in mud and creating awful odors, raising Berkshire hogs outside on pasture, the natural and humane way was the only way to go. No Confinement Hog Raising for Circle B Ranch!!!
There was never any doubt about how we would set up our farm. From the beginning, John and I decided we would raise the hogs by the standards of Humanely Raised and Handled; we would even take these standards a step further as our ranch grew.
John picked up our first Berkshire breeding stock in October of 2009 and brought them home. We were well prepared, having already set up a deeply bedded range hut and an underground waterer. The Berkshire gilts and Barney the Boar were right at home, immediately checking out their surroundings and settling in. Poor Barney had to stay in a field by himself until the girls were ready to be bred (Hogs are very social animals and do not like being alone)!
Barney the Boar
When we brought Barney and the gilts home, we had no idea that we would be going back to the “way it used to be.” As our farm grew, we decided the humane way to raise a hog was the old-fashioned way—we would breed, farrow and raise all of our Berkshire Hogs ourselves. Here at Circle B, we have gone back to the days that Berkshire hogs roam freely on pasture and are not raised in confinement. We rear them without unnecessary antibiotics, without additional growth hormones and without animal by-products in their feed.
This fact seems to surprise a lot of people. We’ve heard it a hundred times… “That is how my grandparents used to do it.” But why should everyone be surprised that Circle B Ranch Berkshire Hogs are raised the old-fashioned way? Why should everyone be surprised that Circle B Ranch Berkshire Hogs freely roam on pasture?
Raising our Berkshires in this way allows us to treat our animals humanely and produce higher quality products for you. Because we let them freely roam on pasture, they are healthier, which means that antibiotics are rarely needed. We, here at Circle B, do care for our pigs if they get sick, but an ill pig is pulled from the herd and isolated for 30 days (We even have a pig infirmary!!).
While our hogs are rarely given antibiotics, confinement hogs are all jammed into a building and are given significant amounts of antibiotics to control disease.
Going back to the old-fashioned way of raising pigs also provides the animals with exposure to fresh air and the opportunity to run and exercise, which helps make our hogs stress free. Stress free hogs means a better tasting product. The taste of pasture raised pork is more intense with a great fat cap. And since we raise Berkshires, the meat has more marbling; the fat content is higher and the meat is firmer. On the other hand, meat from confined hogs is not as flavorful because they are raised in an entirely different—stress-filled—environment. They never feel rain on their skin or feel the sun’s rays. They never know how it feels to wallow in mud, how to root for bugs or nuts. They never know how it feels to be a pig!
Our Berkshires enjoying the pig experience.
By raising our Heritage Berkshire hogs the old-fashioned way, we allow our pigs to be just what they are, all-natural animals. And, by doing so, we are able to bring you the best quality all-natural—antibiotic, growth hormone, and animal-by-product-free—foodstuffs that we possibly can.
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