One day in May when Mom was up opening the house Maine for the season I got a call. "You need to go on the Internet immediately! I just passed a sign on the road to Dan's house that said pork and poultry!". Google came to the rescue and that is how I first discovered the lovely Heritage Hill Farm. I wrote an email to Leilani and told her that in the summer we live around the corner and that I was really excited to find someone doing this in our neighborhood. Finally on my last trip up to visit Mom in August we drove by on a sunny afternoon and pulled in the drive trying to avoid all the chickens who were wandering about pecking in grass and the flower beds. Lani was in the garden and she poked her head up and said 'Sorry, no eggs today'. I hopped out of the Jeep with my camera and wandered over to the vegetable plot on the rise of the hill. Behind the vegetables were some longhorn steer wondering who this woman with the crazy devil horn hairdo was.
I introduced myself and Lani came down and asked if I'd like to meet the pigs. Would I? OF COURSE! So we sauntered across the lawn past the lovely old barn to the sound of large puppy barking his fool head off and came to the edge of the pig enclosure. They had wandered out of the wallow area though the ubiquitous old New England stone wall to the other area.
Lani called " here pig pig pig" a few times while we chatted and Mom said "Oh, here they come." And sure enough a mini herd of sure footed fat pigs came barreling over thinking that we were there to dispense some lovely restaurant leftover scraps. Some of the local restaurants supply her with scraps from prep and being the discerning pigs they are, we laughed to find out that they were not as enamoured with the local inn's scraps because they were compacted a bit too much for their delicate taste buds. Finicky!
She told me that her husband was in charge of all things with tails and she took care of the chickens and the vegetable CSA, but she knew they were Berkshire and some Berkshire/Tamworth cross. While I was admiring the snouts that were being presented through the fence Mom turned around and noticed the incoming chicken invasion.
"We're being raided by the chickens". Lani said they were just mooches and were always there when she fed the pigs to see if there were any good offerings for them. Besides the egg layers, she had a movable, well movable with some brute force, enclosure for the hens she was raising to sell as roasters sometime around late Aug/early Sept. I asked her about the cattle on the rise as I wasn't sure they were longhorns since the horns weren't really well, long. Again she deferred to her husband, the nose and tail man and said they were a cross, but she couldn't recall what they were crossed with. I asked about the abattoir and how they would deal with the cattle. They will be field killed and then brought to my local favourite meat market Ballard's to be processed. I had no idea Ballard's did that so when I swung by Wednesday on my way back home I talked to them about it. It seems the business started out just to process the meat for local hunters and then grew into a meat market. One of these falls I am going to ask the them if they would let me intern for a week. I'd love to really work with a whole or half beast. I've always loved butchery and the staff at Ballard's are seriously the happiest working group of people I have ever met.
We stood and chatted awhile longer about her produce CSA and this seasons horrid weather and the tomato blight as her father in law strolled past to head to the barn. It seems the tractor is not playing nice in the sandbox that day and he was going to see if he could be the tractor whisperer and get it going. Before Mom and I left I asked her how long I had to decide whether I would buy a half pig. Lani said until they are gone! So I emailed her last night because Mom is heading up the first weekend in October to close the house for the season and she could swing by to pick up my pig for me. She's going to check with the butcher to see when pickup might be, fingers crossed I could be having some lovely happily raised Berkshire pork this winter. Oh and Lani...the sign worked!