Ready to try a new direction when it comes to gifting? Tired of looking around with no clear idea of what to get then settling for a quick panic grab of something that will likely never see the light of day again once opened? Want something practical and yet a little fun? A gift that is likely to be remembered?
How about meat?
I’m talking bacon, sausage, chops, maybe a loin or two or even some combination of pork related products. After all, while aware of the number of vegans and vegetarians among our readership there remains a great deal of folks whose carnivorous habits have been maintained for the better part of their lives.
And they really really love meat.
But you don’t want to gift someone just any meat, correct? You want high quality stuff. Something a bit special. A meat that says “Merry Christmas”.
Well, we have an idea...
Years ago Jay and Sarah Cleveland decided to strive for a more self sufficient lifestyle. They bought acreage, built a house and began to add outbuildings as their livestock grew to chickens goats and eventually the hogs.
“It started out to be just raising meat for our family then we last year we became a state licensed meat processor.” Sarah explained.
And so began the story of Happy Hog Farm, a local opportunity for carnivores to get a hold of some quality pork raised by folks who truly care for the animals in their keep.
Sarah talks of the farm and their livestock with such a deep and abiding love for what she and Jay have built from a desire to tend to their animals in a humane manner.
“We want the animals we raise to enjoy their time here. We want them to have good lives,” she explained.
From the tour we took on behalf of SWK the animals were indeed well cared for.
The goats welcomed me with an attempt at a nibble on my jacket that might have been successful had Sarah not warned me of their less than selective feeding options.
From there we visited a couple of moms-to-be in their farrowing stalls. All the hogs are born on the farm and not purchased elsewhere as piglets.
We also met their Livestock Guardian Dog, an impressive Great Pyrenees named Tao who eyed me with what seemed like more than a trace of suspicion. My hunch is Tao performs her duties well given her vigilance regarding my presence.
The Clevelands are a busy lot with 3 school age children at home and Jay’s regular job consuming a lot of time but they are committed to delivering a high quality product raised locally without corn or soy in their diet and raised with caring and kindness as well.
While Sarah handles the business end of HHF her gratitude for her husband’s contribution runs deep.
“Without Jay none of this would be possible,” she stated. “He works so incredibly hard on every single one of his days off of his regular job to keep this farm running and he is the main meat cutter in the shop.
“His role is so vital.”
Their porcine prowlers have ample room to mill about doing their thing (mainly rooting and digging) on the HHF grounds. Unlike large operations who keep their livestock confined and contained these pigs can go ‘hog wild’ in a wooded area where they are allowed to roam about a bit. Their diet is free of GMOs and their ability to have a varied fare produces a more flavorful taste.
As Sarah called them out of the barn for an appearance they pushed and nudged to get a little attention from her.
This past summer Happy Hog Farm set up shop on Saturdays at the Grant Farmers Market and won over a following and are now offering CSA’s where an early investment brings fresh meat to your door all year round.
Sarah has become a sausage creator blending mixtures of spices and flavorings to add a personal touch to their product. She admits the taste testing is run through the family first for approval.
And the results?
Well, a package of “Seriously Good Hot Dogs” that came home with us lived up to their name the evening after our visit. As Sarah had explained the texture differs from most ‘traditional’ dogs one gets at a grocery store but the taste was superb and when garnished with just a touch of some really good mustard they moved from superb to sublime. The experience has admittedly altered my personal weenie world a bit.
The Happy Hog Farm has gift certificates available because if you leave pork chops under the tree Santa may not get them but a furry friend could very well nose them out and besides you’d have to keep it in a cooler which might give away the whole surprise even if the cooler was wrapped and all.
So yeah, gift certificates.
And if meat gifting may not suit your needs, hitting them up for some main course Christmas Dinner material could certainly be in the offing and add a nice local touch to the feast.
Because if the rest of their meat proves to be as tasty as those hot dogs?
I’m in. Way in.
You can contact Happy Hog Farm through their facebook site
Or by giving them a call at 616.446.4059.
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