You might recall that back in November we stopped by the Winter Farmers Market and started the process of ordering a half hog from Crooked Gap Farm. We figured out how we wanted it cut up, and then last week we were notified that our hog was ready for processing. The farmer took it in to a nearby meat locker, and less than a week later it was ready to be picked up. This morning was the exciting excursion to go see what we'd gotten.
We woke up early on a snowy morning, and drove down to the sleepy hamlet of Milo, Iowa (population 839). It's a quaint little town, just about an hour south of Des Moines.
At the end of Main Street is the Milo Locker, where our hog (and one of the farmers who raised it) were waiting for us. The Milo Locker is a family owned business that processes everything from beef and hogs to deer and lamb. For a small business, they sure do keep busy. The guys in the store commented that they've processed 3,000 deer this season! Pretty impressive for a little place like this:
Our particular half hog had weighed in at a hanging weight of 95 lbs, meaning the entire "meat section" of the animal, including all the bones. This weight is the basis for the customer's fee to the farmer. For example, Crooked Gap charged $2.50 per pound of hanging weight. There's also a smaller fee to the locker for the cutting, curing and packaging of the meat. Ours was around $65 for the half hog.
For that cost, they break down the hog into tidy little paper packages that look like this:
Our half hog pretty much filled two full-size chest coolers to capacity. So, what do you get in two coolers worth of pork? Well, with our choices of cuts, we received:
14.2 lb of shoulder roasts
9.7 lb of pork chops
7.9 lb of sausage patties
7.3 lb of deli-sliced ham
7.3 lb of ground pork
6.2 lb of bacon
4.4 lb of ham steaks
4.3 lb of cured ham hocks
2.5 lb of spareribs
2.2 lb of pork liver
1 lb of jowls
and 11 lb of lard
That's a lot of pork, but it fit neatly into our 5 cubic foot deep freezer without any trouble. It's also going to keep our stomachs full of bacon, pork chops, and carnitas for some time to come, which is exciting to think about. You probably won't see us at the grocery store meat counter any time soon!
This was our first time ordering a half of any kind of meat (hog, beef or otherwise) and it's gone really well. Crooked Gap was great to work with, thoroughly explaining the process and answering any questions we had along the way. The folks at Milo were cheerful and friendly, and helped load up our pork without us even asking. Each package is clearly labeled, and in the weight/size increments we asked for when we ordered. Plus it's from a great local farm, where "pigs get to be pigs." Going half-hog is definitely an option to think about if you've got the freezer space and want to know just where your meat came from. We're likely to do it again (whenever we finish all this pork!).