Tasty Charcuterie



Bresse chicken on platter













Benefits of a Carnivore Diet

It’s no secret that we raise pigs and chickens so that we can eat humanely raised, pastured pork and poultry. Our mantra when we must make tough decisions is “this is a farm, not a zoo.”

A good friend and neighbor in our farming community swears by the carnivore diet. He has lost a ton of weight by following it. So, we wanted to share the benefits he let us know about the carnivore diet.

In a nutshell, the carnivore diet high fat, high protein, and low carb. It consists mainly of animal products. No grains, no vegetables, no fruit, no sugar.

With just a quick Internet search, we learned the carnivore diet may help to:

  • balance the microbiome
  • stop autoimmune reactions
  • lose unneeded fat and gain muscle and lean body mass
  • increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels
  • feed our brain and improve our mood

The carnivore diet is made up of easily absorbed, bio-available nutrients.  Following a strict carnivore diet by consuming nose-to-tail (organ meat, not just muscle meat) helps boost the nutrient density.  And our stomach acid is highly acidic and very good at getting the nutrients out of meat. These nutrients flood your body with the building blocks needed to do its own repair of your brain, joints, muscles, and blood cells.

(Plant foods, on the other hand, contain anti-nutrients, as well as nutrients. This is a separate topic which deserves its own blog.)

What About Fiber?

Here’s another myth busted about the no-fiber carnivore diet. Fiber can be bad for people with digestive problems. We were surprised to learn that when a no-fiber diet is consumed, digestion may be improved. Studies of people with IBS, constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive issues show either complete elimination or huge improvement when fiber is greatly reduced or eliminated. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435786/

Another benefit is the magical state called ketosis which is all the rage these days. Basically, when our body is running on fat, not carbs, we are providing our brain with ketones instead of glucose. Ketosis is the metabolic process of using fat, specifically ketones, as the primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates. This is another topic that requires much more than a paragraph to explain. But the bottom line for most of us is that on the carnivore diet you can lose a lot of weight and gain muscle mass.

As we thought about and researched the carnivore diet, the benefits seemed endless. The main thing we will leave you with is this: It’s far better to consume humanely raised meats, without all the nitrates, arsenic, and other additives, than factory-farmed meats processed at slaughterhouses.

Enjoy a tasty charcuterie platter and a side of chicken breast tonight. 🙂

Contact us if you’re interested in buying charcuterie.


Berkshire pigs messing around



Brent digging trenches



Gopher-proof holes






Busy Weekend on a Small Farm

Running a small farm is a TON of work, but it’s very rewarding.

We always start our day by opening the coops so the chickens can free-range during the day. Then, the pigs get their whole grains (soaked overnight for better absorption). We fill all the watering stations and troughs for our chickens and Berkshire pigs.

Outsmarting the pigs

One of the first projects we had to attend to was securing the watering trough for our 3 younger, female Berkshire pigs. Pigs love to turn over anything that has water in it and roll around in the mud it creates. They are not great at long term thinking — like having no water to drink. Allan secured the watering trough inside a cattle panel turned on its side and secured it to the outer fencing. Then he cut a hole that the pigs can get their head through to drink, but not big enough for them to tip the trough with their nose.

Getting the garden ready

Last year, we dug a trench 90-feet x 30-feet and buried hardware cloth to prevent the gophers from getting into the garden. Unfortunately, because we live in the foothills of some very large granite mountains, the trencher could not always get down a full 2 feet. The gophers capitalized on the spots the hardware cloth didn’t reach!

This year, we are digging holes 2-feet deep — by hand. We line each hole with hardware cloth and then fill the hole back in. We are doing this instead of raised beds for a number of reasons. Have you seen the price of lumber? Crazy expensive! Even if it wasn’t, we’re still busy trying to finish the walk-in cooler/butcher station so we can process our first Berkshire.

If we want any garden at all, we figured we have to resort to holes and hardware cloth as the next best option. Digging through hard, dry clay is not easy and it’s a slow process. So far we have 5 holes and have planted 4-5 varieties of squash, 4 varieties of cantaloupe, 4 varieties of watermelon, snap peas, slicing and pickling cucumbers.

Only one variety of squash and cantaloupe sprouted so far. We suspect the squash seeds might not be viable, so we replanted them as an experiment. If they don’t sprout the second time, we’ll know it was the seeds and not the gardener!

We started 2 more gopher-proof holes this weekend. They are 10-feet long and 4-feet wide. These are going to take a bit longer to complete. We will plant carrots and peppers (companion plants) in one, and probably beets and another companion vegetable in the second one.

We ran out of time to start tomatoes from seeds last year and we didn’t enjoy the varieties we had anyway. But because we’re getting a late start on our vegetable garden, we’ve got some growing in pots.

Chickens earning their keep

Another advantage to creating these gopher-proof beds instead of raised beds is that we can continue our companion farming philosophy. For the Mechelens (aka Malines), we’re going to create a coop and chicken run off the garden area. In the winter, once the growing season has come to an end, we’ll let the Mechelens forage through it. They’ll clear out all of the remaining plants and weeds, scratch and till the soil, and fertilize the soil with their poop. This will save us a ton of work come late winter/early spring when it’s time to plant our vegetables.

And we’re finishing 4 Bresse roosters that hatched about 12 weeks ago. We are adhering as closely as possible to the traditional Bresse method — corn/grains and milk. However, we are not stuffing them into small boxes (referred to as the Spruce by the French). They are in a small coop with some light and a little room to move around. We’re not willing to compromise our happy, healthy farm philosophy for a chicken dinner.

A wonderful weekend is coming to a close. A friend brought us fresh cherries from a roadside stand on the highway to Kings Canyon National Park, picked by the Mennonites. We’re looking forward to eating a scrumptious, homemade cherry pie for dinner to celebrate Memorial Day!

Contact us if you’re interested in buying Berkshire breeder piglets or heritage breed Bresse chicken hatching eggs.

Chickens together

Chicken coop in pig pen

Chicken roosting perch

Raising Pigs and Chickens Together


Our companion farming endeavor is a huge success! The chickens handle the poop by picking through it for any undigested grains. The rest gets scratched and scattered around the pen. The flies don’t have a chance to use the pile to create larvae. As a result, the fly population is way down. There is also low to no odor at all. Anytime there is a moist area, we toss a flake of hay to absorb it. We’re very happy with this project!

One of the many things we’ve learned about raising our own livestock is they poop — a lot. And with poop comes flies — a lot of flies. Unless you resort to chemicals, you’ll need a method to control them.

One method is high-frequency rotational grazing. The downside with this method is that you will need a very large acreage. And even with a large acreage, pigs will usually destroy much of the vegetation before they eat it. They love to root through soil.

Another method is using things like fly sprays, fly traps, etc. We don’t want to use chemical sprays or traps that use chemicals. So we use Dr. Bronner’s in a spray bottle attached to a hose to spray the flies. We love natural methods to solve natural problems, but truth be told, our natural recipe does not work as great as its chemical counterpart.

Yet another method for controlling flies is referred to as manure management. This can be accomplished through regular clearing, mounding the manure to create compost, spreading the manure, or dragging the pasture (which requires large machinery).

Joel Salatin offers a different spin on manure management. In the winter, his cows deposit manure on a “giant carbon diaper”, layered with hay and other materials. In the spring, the pigs move in, root around, and aerate the lot. For a detailed description of his Polyface Farm operation, check out this article from The Atlantic, “Inside Polyface Farm, Mecca of Sustainable Agriculture”.

We don’t have cows or a large shed or barn to employ the Polyface method. We pile hay on top of the pig manure to control flies and odor, but we wanted to do more.

Our Companion Farming Program

In the spirit of Salatin’s method, instead of cows, we considered chickens to accomplish a similar outcome. The chickens will dig through the pig manure and eat undigested grains, bugs, larvae, and other parasites. The constant scratching, overturning, and spreading will also help to aerate the pile of hay and manure. And this should expedite the drying process.

So, we constructed a hoop coop inside the pig pens to raise some of our chickens with our Berkshire pigs. Our goal is to control our manure-related smell and disease without costly fertilizer, machinery, or buildings. I read somewhere that 2-3 chickens can get plenty to eat from just one pig’s manure/hay pile!

Contact us if you’re interested in buying Berkshire breeder piglets or heritage breed chicken hatching eggs.

Walk-in cooler under construction

Walk-in cooler exterior

Walk-In Cooler for Processing Berkshire Pigs

We are in the middle of converting one of our out-buildings into a walk-in cooler. This will be used for processing and storage of our Berkshire line of pork and Bresse chickens. And we’ll also use it as a root cellar for our vegetable garden.

This project will take us about a month to complete. The photo shows the state it was in when we purchased the farm. We have been so busy tending to our property that refurbishing this out-building did not become a priority until we started raising Berkshire pigs. Stand-by for the “after” from this “before” photo.

Our first feeder pig will be ready in another two or three months and he is the brother of our Berkshire sow. He has been raised in the foothills of the Sierra mountains. He will be finished as close as possible to the traditional European method.

Inspired by Brandon at Farmstead Meatsmith, we will be producing naturally processed Berkshire charcuteries, bacon, hams, specialty sausages, and chops. The Berkshire pigs are known for their marbled, red meat quality. It is prized for its juiciness, tenderness, and flavor. Yum!

Berkshire pork is served in some of the most renowned restaurants around the world. Chefs rave about the meat. When cured, Berkshire meat makes unsurpassed hams, charcuterie, and salamis.

2021 Berkshire Piglet Reservations Available Now