Published Aug 15, 2016

Field Day Recap: Pork from Pasture (and Woodlot) to Plate

By Meghan Filbert

As the old saying goes, pigs are the mortgage lifters on the farm, which has held true at Crooked Gap Farm. The Book family has been farming for eight years; primarily raising Hereford hogs, but also heritage breed Dexter cattle, Katahdin sheep, meat rabbits and pastured poultry on 40 acres outside of Knoxville. 100% of the products they produce are direct marketed, mostly to Des Moines, Pella, and Knoxville. These sales provide most all the income for this family of seven (Ethan is a pastor as well), while building a future for the Book’s children.

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The Book family in front of the John Deer 4020 that’s been in the family for three generations. From left to right Hannah, Issac, Rebecca (holding Josiah), Jonathan, Ethan and Caleb.

Because Ethan is so proficient at documenting his farming experiences through his blog, The Beginning Farmer, I’m not going to go into tons of detail here. His recap of the field day can be found in blog #138. We were also able to audio record most of the field day discussion, which can be listened to by playing the files below.

When asked about diversification, Ethan answered, “I see¬†diversification as two things – one is raising diversified livestock and two is the diversification of marketing.”¬†Ethan’s direct marketing strategies can be listened to here:

Ethan told the group that he loves Iowa, and loves that Hereford hogs originate from Iowa. Listen to a discussion on hog genetics, management, and their hoop house here:

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Crooked Gap Farm raises and sells about 100 hogs a year, with the goal of increasing to 300+ hogs a year.

Ethan discussing pasturing hogs, corrals, hydraulic hog carts, fencing and more:

Continuation of the fencing discussion and pasture species:

Dexter cattle and meat rabbit production/processing:

Thank you to the Book family for providing a delicious meal, featuring Crooked Gap Farm pork hog dogs and pork sticks, made by Story City Locker. Practical Farmers would also like to thank our major sponsors for helping make our field days free and open to the public.