Making Hay
Week of March 10th, 2002 | The weather was getting colder.

Comparing organic pork roast.

Comparing organic pork roast.

March is turning into January! Friday and Saturday we had wind and snow. Dad said the wind was up to 50 miles per hour! It was cold with poor visibility.

Sunday, Dad came back from the Upper Midwest Organic Conference and said that everybody loved the Organic Valley pork ribs. We watched these ribs being cut up last week at the processing plant. Nobody can believe that the hogs were alive Monday morning (last week) and all of the hogs were cut up and packaged by early Tuesday morning. The pork pool producers know that they are doing a good job when they hear comments like the ones from the speakers at the conference.

Monday, Dad went to a sale yard. He bought a 9-ton capacity bulk bin. This is a large bin. Usually, our bulk bins are about 4 tons! Dad also purchased a set of used rollers. Rollers are pipes on bearings so the pipes can turn around. These rollers will be attached on a frame. The frame will set on the floor of the livestock trailer. This way, we can place pallets of feed on the roller frame and can push the feed to the front of the trailer. I think this will be a big improvement in our feed handling.

Tuesday, Dad cleaned all of the sow huts in the North-farrowing barn. Then, Dad limed the huts with lime they use on baseball fields. This lime controls diseases. Next, straw is bedded on top of the lime. Dad also moved in 5 sows.

Wednesday, Dad cleaned the hog floors. Like always, Dad uses the John Deere 7405 tractor with the John Deere 740 loader. The solid bucket handles all of our hog and cattle manure. Then, Dad fixed feeders in the hog floors. He also fixed sow huts in the barns. On the sow huts, we have door guards. These door guards are placed in the sow doorway. This way, baby pigs can't crawl out and get cold or injured.

Thursday, Dad cleaned more hog floors. He also unloaded wheat. This load was hard red winter wheat. We have never fed that grain before. That night, Jolene and I participated in the New Hampton Parade of Bands. This is a performance where the New Hampton 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th and 8th grade, and high school band play. Also, some played solos and the jazz bands performed, too. It is a night of great music!

Friday, Dad started cutting up some large trees that were in our grove in our back yard. A few years ago, Dad, Jolene, and I cleared part of our old grove of dead and fallen trees. We had part of this replanted and the trees are growing fast! Some of it still has fallen trees that were never cleared away yet. Dad is clearing this away so we can build our neighbor a nice looking fence and plant new trees. Dad tried to cut some of the trees up so he can move them, but the chainsaw broke down and the job was over for the day. We can't get back to this until the chainsaw is fixed.

As you have read, the wind was bad Saturday. I went to the 4-H meeting that morning. It was short because of obvious reasons. Everybody wanted to go home early because of the wind and poor visibility. Jolene was in Cedar Falls for all day auditions at University of Northern Iowa. She found out that day that she is accepted for fall enrollment into their school of music program. The professor was amazed at Jolene's work and kept her music portfolio for further reviewing. Jolene was shocked and excited. She has worked on some of this music since 8th grade!

That afternoon, Dad and I worked on records on the computer. These records are about our farm plan for this year. All of this is for our farm inspection. We have to have our farm inspected so it will be certified. All organic farms have to go through this. It is a long process, but it is worth the trouble. The farm plan details our reasons for being organic farmers and how we plan to produce a good quality organic product. We have to record a plan on how to prevent pollution of our crops and livestock from neighboring chemical use.As you have read last week's journal, Mom, Dad, and I went to tour the processing plants that our hogs are shipped to. I described and showed a picture of the killing plant last week. This week, I share a picture and description of the cutting plant.

Tuesday, February 26, Mom, Dad, and I went to this processing plant also known as a cutting plant. The pork carcasses are unloaded from the truck and railed into the main room. All of the cutting and packaging is done in here. The pork is inspected. Then they are placed on a table and the legs are finally off of the rails. A large saw cuts off the hog front and rear legs. Then the ribs are cut out of the hog carcass. Next, a large wheel flattens the rest of the carcass out. This is used for bacon. Other meats are cut out of the hog. Back fat (under the skin) is cut out to be used for by-product. All of the meats are cut up and packaged. Machines seal the packages shut, but workers label the packages. After the organic hogs are all cut up, the line has to stop and wait until everything is done and cleared. This way, the organic meats will not be mixed up with other non-organic hogs. Again, I was very impressed with the cutting plant. Everyone works well together, as a team. It's a very clean facility.

I enjoyed this plant more than the last one. It was cold all of the time because the meat has to stay cold. After touring the plant, we loaded boxes of packaged ribs in our car. We brought this home to be used for one of the meals at the organic conference that dad attended. It was really something to load out our hogs from home, watch them die, get cut up, and load pork ribs out. We were with our hogs all of the time!

Farm Fact: A market hog average weight is 250 pounds. The carcass weighs 180 pounds.

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