Our ‘Just Up The Road’ series features nearby businesses and attractions that we love. We’ll try to show a unique side of these places that aren’t necessarily highlighted on websites or in brochures. I hope you enjoy these peeks into our neighborhood, and can plan to visit one of these spots in addition to your visit to the winery!
Back in September of 2013, we were served a smoked hog from the Nutty Pig Farm, an organic pasture-raised pig farm located about forty minutes from the winery, and fell in love with the flavor. So we purchased a hog and smoked it ourselves for Julie’s wedding last year which just furthered our love of this organic farm’s offerings. Unfortunately we hadn’t had the chance to pick out anything else since.
And then this happened:
Chuck and Jane Held, the owners of The Nutty Pig Farm came by the winery for our Wine & Woof Fest to see if they could find good homes for a litter of puppies that they’ve raised (these three are still available, by the way. Do you need an adorable furry friend?). We got to chatting about their farm and scheduled a time for Clyde and I to visit.
So Tuesday, Clyde and I headed down to Davisville to meet up with Chuck and check out his place. Of course, I thought you might like to take a peek behind the scenes too, so I brought the camera along.
After meeting up at their house, Chuck took us up to the top of his 80-acre farm to where he had his pigs. Here he’s showing off the pasture that he’ll be releasing the pigs into sometime in the next couple of weeks. This pasture is seeded to orchard grass, clover, and alfalfa. At this time though, the hogs were in various stages of raising piglets, so all the pigs were in separate ‘family’ groups in different areas around this pasture.
The Helds have two rare, heritage breeds: Large Blacks and Red Wattles. The piglets are mostly raised for meat and they are crosses of these two breeds. Chuck refers to the meat pigs as ‘feeders’, since they will be feeding you and I someday.
Both breeds are known to be very gentle and as you can see, they love being petted. I found out they enjoy having the ends of their snouts rubbed, their bellies petted, and seemed to like trying to untie my shoes. So basically they were like an overgrown puppy!
The large blacks are usually a little larger and are known for producing a high-quality lard. The Red Wattles produce a very lean, but still flavorful, meat. Chuck finds that the crosses combine the best qualities of both breeds.
I couldn’t tell the difference between the hybrid and the large breeds at first, but Chuck pointed out that the hybrids’ ears don’t quite reach the end of their snouts (that’s a hybrid above). A pure-bred Large Black’s ears will reach their snouts. The smaller ears come from the Red Wattle.
Most of the piglets we were looking at were around 6 to 8 weeks old. These guys were so active, and I was surprised at how many scuffles and arguments they got into with each other. Chuck pointed out that these pigs don’t need any antibiotics or medications to keep them healthy. Being on open pasture seems to keep them healthy, even when they get cut, bruised or bitten.
This guy came right up to me for a snout rub right after I walked into the pen. After untying my shoes, he laid right down at my feet and asked for a belly rub. Awwwww….I can almost see why people keep pigs as pets. I finally handed the camera over to Clyde so I could give him the love he obviously craved!
At the far end of the field, one lone male pig laid all by himself, gazing forlornly through the fence into another pen. Turns out the lone pig was named Mac, a full-blood large black. Chuck said Mac was interested in a certain someone on the other side of the fence.
As it turned out, Mac was pining after Coco, a new mama. Coco just had her litter less than 6 days earlier and so she was separated from everyone else to help protect the piglets until they got a little larger. Meanwhile, the two lovebirds….lovepigs?…would have to whisper sweet nothings to each other through the fencing.
I stayed on the far side of the fence from the piggies too, mostly because they were pretty skittish of people. Chuck and Jane don’t name the feeders, and I tried not to get all giggly and girly about the piglets. I was going to be professional, detached, and thoroughly practical about why these pigs are here.
OMG! Squuuuueeeee!!! Those tails! So cute! Oops, well, there goes that. It’s hard not to be at least a little bit charmed by these guys.
Finally, it was time for us to head home. This Red Wattle named Butternut (by the way, just about all the breeding pigs on the farm are named after…you guessed it…nuts!) came up to say goodbye to Clyde before we left. We headed down the hill where we picked out a few pork chops, a roast, bacon, bratwurst, and a package of lard to cook up at home. Chuck sells at the St. Clair, MO farmers market, Local Harvest in St. Louis, and also to various restaurants in the area. You can contact him to purchase directly too. He also sells piglets that you can buy and raise for yourself if you’re so inclined. If you’d like to learn more, visit The Nutty Pig Farm website, or find them on facebook.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at the Nutty Pig Farm and can try some of their delicious pork products soon. Clyde and I may be in the market for a half hog at some point this spring or summer, so if you have freezer space and want to split one, just let us know. Cheers!
Mother’s Day will be here before you know it, and for those of you who are hosting a brunch, you’ll definitely want to try out these wine flavored butters. They make delicious condiments, which are wonderful on their as a spread for biscuits or other breads, but they can definitely do double duty too.
Use the Courtois & chive butter (on right) to saute vegetables or cook up eggs. The Yadkin Creek & strawberry butter would look so pretty in a small canning jar with a bow and gift tag for Mom to take home as a sweet reminder of her day.
As usual with our recipes, these butters couldn’t be simpler to make. To make these butters, just be sure to soften the butter to start. Then combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. I scooped out the butter and rolled into logs in plastic wrap, but you could fill a small jar or bowl with the butter instead. Then place in the refrigerator for a few hours to let it harden and you are ready to go.
The Courtois butter is flavored with fresh chopped garlic chives. This would be a good spread for corn, asparagus, or just a nice thick slice of sourdough bread. Combine 5 Tablespoons softened butter, 2 Tablespoons Courtois, and 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives.
The Yadkin Creek butter has strawberries and a touch of maple syrup to sweeten it. It would taste delicious shmeared all over a dry creek wine biscuit and looks pretty too! For this butter, combine 5 Tablespoons butter, 1 Tablespoon Yadkin Creek, 1 large roughly chopped strawberry, and 1 teaspoon maple syrup.
If you’d like another recipe for that Mother’s Day brunch, try making a Courtois Omelet. I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you try this at home, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below. Cheers!
Join us this Saturday, April 25th starting at 2pm to enjoy the easy, breezy music of Elliott Ranney. We’ll be out in the wine garden if the weather is nice, or in the wine cellar if it’s raining, so don’t let the weather scare you away.
Here’s a little preview of what to expect:
Looking forward to seeing you all here this weekend – cheers!