March 2018 Newsletter

Cold night to be born for this little girlie! Nothing more beautiful to see than a brand new baby calf nursing and bonding with her mother. #grassfed #organic #beef #cattle #winter #babycalf
As you can see, Sam’s hoop house was a casualty of the unusually heavy snow load.

Some thoughts on "Pigliness"

One of the most satisfying experiences of a farmer’s daily routine is watching the animals wake up in the morning. Our pigs live in open housing where they can run outside any time, night or day, winter or summer. As you can see in this short video, taken early one winter morning, they spend winter nights burrowed into a bed of deep straw.

I didn’t grow up raising pigs, but learned all the sayings abounding in country conversation which tend to denigrate pigliness. My Mom would often describe my sister’s messy room as “a pigpen”. If my brother and I came in covered in mud, she might observe that we were “dirty as pigs”. And anyone who “ate like a pig” had very bad table manners.

As a caution against over-eating (or more often drinking too much), she would tell us “Don’t make a pig of yourself!”. A very stubborn individual who would not listen to reason was “pig-headed”.  My overweight cousin who occasionally came to help with the hay used to “sweat like a pig”.

Well now, given all that (and there are lots more), anyone who has never enjoyed the intimate company of pigs might come to the conclusion that they are dirty, stupid disgusting animals.  But our experience of raising these animals in a way that allows them to express their natural behaviour; roaming outside, rooting and socializing with each other leads to a very different conclusion.  Pigs are among the most intelligent of domesticated species. They keep themselves very clean, given the opportunity they will keep their bedded area dry and dedicate a place off to the side for messy business.  They do love to wallow in mud in the summer – it is a way of cooling off, and protecting their skin from sun and skin diseases. It is likely that the expression “dirty as a pig” comes from this normal activity. Pigs don’t really sweat at all, so “sweating like a pig” is a total misnomer.

I can say with confidence that anyone who “eats like a pig” does have very bad table manners.  No matter how many eating stations we provide or how abundant the food, they will run from one to the next, and rudely push each other out of the way, as if they were starving.  And they will “make pigs of themselves” – not knowing when to stop!

One last thing – “pig headed” is an apt description for someone who stubbornly refuses to move.  You can lead horses, and chase cattle, but you have to lure a pig.


Sam presents at "Optimistic View - Live"

On Sunday, March 4th, Zettel Family Farms was honoured to be invited to present to a sold-out crowd at the Victoria Jubilee Hall in Walkerton, on the topic of Organic Food and Organic Farming. This is an annual event organized by the Walkerton Optimist Club, raising money to help families in the area who have children with severe medical problems. Sam talked about the definition of “Organic”, the increasing desire of people to know where their food comes from and how it is grown, and the many benefits of a strong local food system. We gave out samples of our nitrate free smoked ham and maple garlic sausage, and got to meet tons of people and tell them about our farm. Thanks to the Optimists for hosting this great event!

Potatoes on Sale

We are all out of white and yellow potatoes, but still have a good supply of reds and russets, which many customers love.  We are offering 20 lb bags of either variety for $14/ bag. – That’s a 30 % discount! Just add a bag to your meat order and we will deliver.  If you missed my homily on the merits of potato consumption from a previous newsletter you can read it here.

Get ready for Barbecue Season!

I know that some of you sneak the barbecue out of the garage once in a while even in winter, but for most of us, the barbecue season starts in earnest when it’s warm enough to stand out there in your shirtsleeves with a drink (which doesn’t freeze).  Last year we sold quite a few of our beef/ pork patties. If you haven’t tried them – you’re missing out. These are my personal favourite for convenience. If I have time and want to impress guests, I will go with smoked ham steaks, but farmer’s sausage or pork chops are always a hit!

Now if you are handy in the kitchen, there’s nothing like the gourmet burger you mix yourself, seasoned to your own taste, maybe with fresh chopped onions and/or garlic.

 If you haven’t tried it yet, mix some sausage meat with the lean ground beef. We sell it in one lb. packages – the same as ground beef. A bit of pork makes the burger juicier and adds a richness of flavour and aroma.

Put your orders in early for patties.  It really helps us to manage inventory when we get pre-orders.

Garden Update

We have already started planting our 2018 garden! The seeding process begins long before it’s warm enough to plant anything outside when we start onions, cabbage, leeks, kale, tomatoes, peppers, and lots of other things indoors. We are looking forward to getting back into the swing of things after being away from the garden for the winter. Every year we learn a few more lessons and get a little more experience to help us do better the next season, and better prepare us for whatever the weather and pests might throw at us. It’s good to feel confident, but of course one of the lessons we’ve learned is not to take anything for granted! The last two years have been extremely dry and extremely wet, so who knows what this year will bring?

We are offering a few more spots in our vegetable CSA this year, and we would encourage you to sign up on our website before they are all full! We’re excited to expand our delivery area to the Port Elgin region, where we attended the Farmer’s Market last summer and found a great deal of interest in our products. We will continue our deliveries to Hanover, Walkerton, and the Chepstow area as well. It’s wonderful to see so many people with a passion for fresh, organic, local food. You, our customers, are willing to put your dollars into a food system that heals land, environment, and people, instead of harming them. We look forward to bringing you fresh, high quality produce this summer at the Eat Well Market* in Hanover and the Port Elgin Farmer’s Market, as well as our vegetable CSA! Don’t forget to sign up!

Find out more or Register!

*Please note that the date and time of the Eat Well Market in Hanover will be Saturdays from 9AM to 1PM starting June 2nd!

A brief history of Organic Farming

In 1982, on the day of my first contact with a real organic farmer,  I was a progressive young dairy farmer working in partnership with my Dad, who had taken over the family farm from his Dad. I got into farming for what are now called “lifestyle aspirations”.  When my girlfriend Christine and I were planning our post-secondary studies, my Dad announced that he would be getting out of cows….

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