Why Our Newest Pastured Pigs Traveled 445 Miles to Get Here
A soft rain fell as the 8-week-old pigs stretched their legs, looked around and began exploring.
The newest arrivals on our farm came a long way to get here, leaving Six Oaks Farm in Jonesville, SC, on Sunday morning and arriving here in Southern Maryland by late afternoon.
We’re extremely excited about these pigs because of the job they’ll do on our farm and the exceptional quality of the pork they’ll produce for our customers.
So why bring pigs all the way from South Carolina?
Since we began, we’ve been committed to raising heritage breeds, rather than conventional. They’re better suited to live outdoors and on pasture, which means that they are healthier and so is the pork they produce. Chefs will tell you that heritage pork just has more flavor.
But even among heritage breeds, there can be a lot of differences. Over the past couple of years, we’ve raised a variety of breeds, making notes about the pros and cons of each.
We settled on a few favorites, but we struggled to find local sources that could provide us with a consistent supply of those prized breeds. Then we discovered Six Oaks Farm.
Its owner, David Crafton, is a Maryland native who relocated to South Carolina because the more affordable cost of land offered him the opportunity to build the farm operation that he imagined. One of his primary enterprises is a breeding program focused on nurturing just the characteristics that we’re looking for in our animals.
He’s also working with a geneticist at Clemson University to develop a completely new and formally recognized breed of pastured pigs that he’s calling Carolina Spot Hogs.
Our Six Oaks pigs are a cross between two heritage breeds — Tamworth (AKA “The Bacon Pig”) and Large Black. We’ve raised both of those breeds and love everything about them. We also love that this arrangement will allow us to give our customers a steady supply of consistently amazing pork.
When the pigs arrived, we placed them in a temporary pen, where they can get settled in and we can ensure they are well trained to electric fencing. Then for the next month or so, they’ll rotate through a new pasture that we planted in the spring.
When soybeans are harvested on a larger field nearby, we’ll move them out there where they will spend the winter “tilling” the soil and helping us transition the field from row crop to pasture. They’ll chow down on the grasses and plants in the field, and we’ll provide plenty of hay and GMO-free feed.
Our laying hens will be moved into the same field and together they will move across the land, adding much-needed organic matter to rebuild the soil fertility. Transitioning the fields from years of monoculture row crops to a healthy pasture is not an easy or fast process, but we’re chipping away and the animals are doing their part.
Little by little, we’re creating a place to raise more animals and to produce food that we feel good about and that we’re excited to share with you.
It’s all possible because our community has shown that there is an appetite for local food, raised naturally and humanely. We appreciate your support more than words can say, and we’re grateful for every customer, old and new.
It’s going to be a busy fall and winter around the farm. We’ve got more projects in the works, and all of it is designed to help us provide the highest-quality local foods and the best experience for you.