Sunday, December 29, 2013

Now available in Davenport!

Wickham Farm pork is now available at the West Kimberly Mall in Davenport, Iowa. The West Kimberly Mall is an eclectic collection of 160 vendors under one roof selling everything from antiques and collectibles to farm fresh beef, chicken and now PORK! But not just any pork. Oh no, not for WKM. They now carry our pasture raised, antibiotic and hormone free Red Wattle Pork! Some of the best bacon, ham, pork chops and ribs you'll find anywhere. So if your in the neighborhood, stop in give us (and West Kimberly Mall) a try.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What makes Wickham Farm Pork the Best!

There are a few things that we at Wickham Farm do that places our pork among the best you will find anywhere. First, we start with the best pig breeds available. The Red Wattle and the American Guinea Hogs that we raise are what is known as heritage breeds. (HINT: think pig equivalent to heirloom tomatoes) These breeds are basically the same pig today that they were hundreds of years ago. They have not been bred to be extra lean (and tasteless), or to grow quickly under modern day mass production farming methods...aka, factory farm confinement hogs. What they are is hardy pigs that do well outdoors. They're great mothers and are excellent grazers and foragers and they taste great! Heritage breed hogs like ours tend to have more inter-muscular fat marbling and when it comes to pork, fat is where the flavor is.

Here in Iowa, over 90% of hogs are raised in confinement buildings where they spend their life on steel and concrete and almost never see the light of day.  Hogs that are raised in these modern confinement style operations are fed a  diet of corn, soybeans, vitamins, minerals and antibiotics. Yep, that's right. Antibiotics.
They are commonly fed to swine raised in confinement low concentrations for long periods of time in order to maintain heath and promote growth. Sounds crazy, I know. We never give our hogs sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics. Antibiotics are rarely used on our farm except when necessary to save a pig's life. So why on earth would anyone give antibiotics to animals that aren't sick? The answer is simple. Hogs raised in the totally unnatural setting of a confinement building would frequently be ill without them. The confinement system of raising hogs doesn't work without sub-therapeutic antibiotics. 

A "modern" hog confinement building just a few miles from our farm stands in sharp contrast to the method of hog farming we utilize at Wickham Farm.

And as if this isn't bad enough, many modern confinement hogs are also fed a growth promoting drug called ractopamine (paylean). Ractopamine is known to increase the rate of weight gain, improve feed efficiency, and increase carcass leanness in finishing swine. One source said that it could make the farmer an additional $5-$10 per head. Sounds like a hog farmer's dream come true doesn't it?  But there is a dark side to Ractopamine. Ractopamine has been be linked to cancer. It has been banned in 160 countries including the European Union, mainland China and Russia yet it is still used extensively here in the U.S. Does this make any sense? Not to me it doesn't!

Like hog confinement operations, we feed our hogs a diet that includes corn, soybeans vitamins and minerals. But that is where the similarity ends. Rather than confine our pigs to a climate controlled building, we allow ours access to pasture.Yep, that's right. Pasture where they graze on grass, clover and weeds. The young pigs run and play and the older ones root in the dirt searching for tasty morsels of plant roots and worms. In essence, living outdoors on pasture allows our pigs to do what a pig is suppose to do.  It allows our pigs to be pigs.

Our hogs diets are supplemented with things like pumpkins, squash, apples, pears and other fruit and vegetables that are gleaned from our garden and nearby farms. We have found that hogs that are raised and fed this way makes for some extra sweet, delicious pork. So what kind of pork do you want to eat?

Pumpkin eaters!

Proffesional pumpkin chucker!

One of many loads of squash and pumpkins destine for pig feed.

Special thanks to our friends at Indian Hills Orchard, Gravert's Apple Basket, Papa's Pumpkin Patch and the Joel Wood family for their contributions to our pigs' diet. The pigs thank you too!

Friday, October 11, 2013

New Place to get your Bacon Fix!

The farmers market season is quickly winding down. There are only two more weeks until the Maquoketa Farmers market ends for the season. So how can you get your red wattle bacon fix this winter? You could could come to one of the last two farmers markets and fill your freezer. You could place an order for a whole or half hog. You can contact us anytime for pork to be picked up here at the farm. Or, as of this morning, there is a new way to get our great tasting heritage pork.

Wickham Farm is happy to announce that our pork is now available at the Timber City Trading Post in Maquoketa. The Trading Post is located at 105 North Main, just a couple doors down from intersection of Main and Platt in Maquoketa. For those of you not familiar with the metropolis of Maquoketa,it's the main intersection in the center of town. They carry a nice assortment of gift items, nick nacks and organic foods and now they have pork too! Owner Connie Behrens tells us that they will soon be opening a bistro in the back with our red wattle pork on the menu. How cool is that! The Timber City Trading Post is open Wednesday through Saturday 10m to 6pm  and Sundays from noon to 4pm.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hog Roast

One of our customers sent us this photo from their recent hog roast. The guest of honor was one of our American Guinea Hogs. When someone questioned me as to how I choose which hog would be the right one for the spit, I just say that I opened the trailer door and yelled "who wants to go to a party!".  Actually, which hog is chosen is determined in part by the number of guests at the party, the customers wishes and what we have available at the time of the request. This guy weighed in at 134 lbs (live weight) and took 13 hours to cook over a hardwood fire. Actually, I think the Guinea Hog is one of the best out their for this style of cooking. It has just the right amount of fat to make for some great eating. Word is that it was "Ummmmm yummy." It definitely looks yummy to me! Thanks for the picture, Ken.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The making of a bee keeper

Last fall, my son Nicholas told me about a bee hive that was being kept on his school's property by science teacher, Mr. Tom Becker. Nick had the opportunity to "help" Mr. Becker with the hive on a couple of occasions. Mr. Becker saw that Nick had a real interest in the bees and told him that he should apply for a youth scholarship being offered by the Iowa Honey Producers Association (IHPA). The IHPA realized that membership numbers had been dropping for some time and that they needed to do something to get more young people involved in bee keeping. So, they started the youth partnership program.

Nick filled out the application to participate in the program. He put it in the mail and we waited to hear if he would be accepted. It wasn't long before we were invited to attend the annual meeting of the IHPA in Marshalltown. It was there that we learned that Nick and 11 other youth from across the state of Iowa had been accepted into the program!

Nick received a hive body, bees, all necessary equipment (smoker, hive tool, veil and gloves), 1 year membership to the Iowa Honey Producers Association, beginning bee classes and was assigned a mentor to guide him through his first year of bee keeping! In return, Nick agrees to attend bee classes, keep a written record of his bee keeping adventure and present a final report at the IHPA annual meeting.

I think that one of the most important parts of the program is the mentor. Nick's mentor is David Hayes, of Prairie Creek Honey. David has graciously offered to help guide Nick through his first year of bee keeping. Being a beginning bee keeper can be a little intimidating. Having someone to guide you along the way and answer a beginner's questions is a great thing to have. I have to admit that all this has been just as exciting for me as it is for Nick. I have been attending the bee classes with him and am learning as much as he is. So far, it has been a lot of fun and I think this could develop into a lifelong hobby for both of us.

 The bees arrived this past Tuesday afternoon and with Mr. Hayes help, are now home in their new hives. Let the bee keeping adventure begin!

Nick opening the package of bees with mentor David Hayes guidance.

Putting the bees into the hive body.
Nick showing off his new queen bee.

Closeup of the queen.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Raw Milk in Iowa (round 3)

Iowans have been in a 3 year legal struggle over the consumption of milk. Raw milk to be exact. Funny that something as seemingly harmless as milk could cause such a ruckus.  This Wednesday, February 27th, there will be a joint hearing of the House Local Government Subcommittee and the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee to discuss HSB 131 and SF 77 (The Milk Bill). This bill would legalize sales of raw milk directly from farmers to consumers. Farmers could sell directly to consumers without being licensed by the state as long as they sold only on-farm or through delivery arrangements made directly with the consumer. The bills would NOT allow re-selling or sales at grocery stores (or farmers markets). If the subcommittee approves it, then it can go the full Committees, possibly the same week.

I am writing today to say that I am in favor of raw milk sales in Iowa. It is high time that Iowans have the right to decide what food to put in their bodies. I know that many people will tell you that drinking raw milk is not safe. Statistically, the risks associated with drinking raw milk are low. Why can't we drink a glass of clean, fresh, raw milk if we are so inclined? I feel that informed consumers should have the right to purchase raw milk if they choose to do so. If milk is properly handled, there is no danger in drinking raw milk. All fresh food needs to handled properly. We have come a long way since the early 1900s when milk pasteurization was used to fix unhealthy production and distribution systems. With today’s information, pasteurization is not the only way to produce safe healthy milk. The CDC reported three years ago that 3% of all the people in the U.S. drink raw milk at least once a month. That's about 10 million people. YET, IN THE LAST 1O YEARS, THERE HAS NOT BEEN A SINGLE DEATH IN THE U.S. THAT CAN BE ATTRIBUTED TO DRINKING RAW MILK. Iowa is one of only 18 states that does not allow raw milk sales for human consumption. Thousands of people around the globe consume raw milk safely. In my mind, the whole raw milk issue comes down to consumer choice. It is time that Iowan's are allowed to make this choice for themselves. 

RAW MILK1 Should We Get Raw Milk By Prescription?

Friday, February 15, 2013

It's an AgStravaganza!!!

This coming Wednesday, February 20th, our local Soil and Water District will be hosting their first ever AgStravaganza!! The event will be held at the Jackson County fairgrounds in Maquoketa from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Booths will showcase a variety of topics with information available on everything from rain gardens to rare breed livestock. Free seminars will be running throughout the day. Plus, there will be an indoor farmers market. Wickham Farm will be there with our red wattle pork for sale! Stop by and say hello. We would love to see you there!