The Gray Area Farm pastured pork empire began recently with the addition of a new member of the farm team: Lollipop!
Not only is she (hopefully, you never know what kind of mom she will grow up to be) going to be the matriarch of a breeding program for piglets for pasture-raised fresh local pork at our farm east of Colorado Springs, she and her litter-mates have a remarkable story.
She comes from the farm that supplies Rock Ledge Ranch museum and living history exhibit with their annual display pigs. Her more-famous brother and sister are entertained and educated people at the historic site near Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colo. throughout the 2016 tourist season.
Lollipop’s siblings: The Rock Ledge Ranch pigs, dropping education on people about pork whether they like it or not
Before the advent of interweb-powered SJWs (Social Justice Warriors), the ranch would raise pigs purchased from area farms through the tourist season, and then process them in their annual “Everything But The Oink” class. It was a fitting end to the pigs that were raised in the 1800s style and then processed the way a homestead ranch would in the time: with near-zero waste. Thus, ‘everything but the oink’ would be used to help a family make it through the year. Alas, as of last year, the display pigs are now sold to a rescue and other pigs are brought in for the processing class. Which doesn’t seem to make ANY sense to me, but there you have it.
For the last three years, Rock Ledge Ranch has purchased their pigs from Patty Berg, a pera-educator at Travis and Ainsley’s school. She lives just two miles down the road from Gray Area Farm.
Patty Berg’s pigs – why Gray Area Farm is so excited to offer them and continue the bloodline
As I wrote about in my The Pasture-Raised Life column (May 2016 “The New Falcon Herald”), the partnership between Patty (“That’s ‘Mrs. Berg’ to you!” hollers the kids) and Rock Ledge goes back to an advertisement looking for piglets that she saw in… terrible circumstances. Following is from the column… go over to the site to read the whole thing:
In March 2013, everything changed for the Bergs’ little homestead. Patty Berg saw an advertisement from Rock Ledge Ranch looking for piglets for the living history exhibit near Garden of the Gods. She found the ad under dire circumstances.
“I had gone to get the “Ranchland News” to get my husband’s obituary,” Berg said. Doug Berg had passed away in an automobile accident. “Rock Ledge had the ad near it (the obit). I thought that would be so great to have that become part of the living history. But I put it in my back pocket, because the litter we had was so young, and it was such a hard time in my life.”
A couple months later, Berg found out the ranch still didn’t have pigs for their program. Her piglets were then the perfect age to move to the museum. “And my gosh, it was like a little burst of happiness for me in that time of grief to be part of that,” she said. Now, Berg breeds a litter each year at the right time to have the piglets be an appropriate age to be part of Rock Ledge Ranch’s tourism season.
Berg has emotional ties to Peanut, the sow that farrows the Rock Ledge Ranch piglets. “We named her Peanut because she was the tiniest little thing,” Berg said. “I’m pretty sure she was premature. I thought, ‘my gosh, this is new for me! I just came from California!’ I bottle raised her, and she grew up to produce these beautiful little piglets, in all kinds of different colors.”
Lollipop is Peanut’s granddaughterpig, as it were. Dotty, one of Peanut’s daughter sows, took over for Rock Ledge litter duty. We at Gray Area Farm are proud to support Mrs. Berg as she continues working hard on the ranch she and her husband created.
Like Gray Area, Patty Berg does not use any routine antibiotics or vaccinations, there’s not a single farrowing crate in sight and each sow and boar have ample pens with plenty of ear-scratches from Patty. We’ve visited her little farm several times and are completely comfortable — enthusiastic, really — about her growing practices, level of concern and love for her animals.
While Lollipop will hopefully be part of the farm for a few years raising out some really nice long (ie bacon-filled) piglets for us, she’s still only about four months old as of posting this in June ’16. Gilts (young female pigs) are able to start working on becoming sows (mom pigs) at about seven months of age. Therefore, some of Lollipop’s cousins from Mrs. Berg’s piggies will be joining her at Gray Area in the next couple weeks to be raised out for pork deliveries in mid December 2016. Check out our pasture-raised pork for sale in half and whole hog sizes to learn more and send your deposit.