With that in mind I think I've come to the conclusion that selling halves and wholes is the most sustainable option for the farm. I'm not completely sure that I will ever make it to the point where I'm only selling wholes and halves, but I do believe it is a very sustainable goal to work towards on every level. Let me take some of the above definition of sustainability and explain what I mean ...
- Simply said ... going to the market every week (while working a full-time town job) takes up precious time and energy. I love the interaction with customers and the opportunity to share the reasons for the farm and the way the farm works. The sale of wholes and halves still takes time marketing and communicating with customers, but in the end it is much less time consuming and stressful.
- I think most would readily agree with me that wholes and halves is most sustainable for the farm, but I believe it is equally sustainable for the customer (friends and neighbors). When a family purchases a whole or half hog (since that is all we're selling now) they get all the cuts. I agree that it is easier to just get the things you want (chops, bacon, etc.), but when you get a whole hog you get all the good out of the animal. This type of purchase encourages the customer to make use of everything ... including some of the most healthy things that many people would skip. Lard is the perfect example ... and it is not as difficult to make and use as you think!
- Crooked Gap Farm is a place where a pig is a pig. That means that the pigs are allowed to fill their created pigginess, but also that the whole pig is used just as it was created to be. I strive to make sure that all that can be used or sold is used or sold and when dealing with wholes and halves it is just that much easier.
- On the surface it seems that the way you sell an animal wouldn't have much to do with land stewardship. But, I think it does! Just think of it this way ... when you are selling the majority of your livestock as wholes and halves you are able to really align the animals with the seasons that work best for them and the land. This allows the farm to maintain a high level of ecological sustainability and to tap into the natural instincts of the animals. I love it!
- Finally ... I just want to have fun farming because that is one of my key components of sustainability! When I was a kid I played with my toy tractors for fun ... I ran through manure piles for fun ... I pretended to farm for fun! Now that I'm an adult I want to keep the fun around ... too many farms forget the fun and I refuse to be one of them.