Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shepherd's Corner, July 20

Did you know that meats are seasonal?  Omache Farm works on a grass based system albeit we are learning the intricacies of the seasons on the Palouse as both Jason and Margaret hail from western Washington.  In a system that follows the natural fluctuations of grass and feed supplies there must be choices about which animals head to the freezer before winter and which ones are worth keeping over the hard winter months.
In the case of Lamb, they reach finishing weight in the fall.  Since it cannot be financially justified to feed them over the winter because they take several months into the spring and summer to increase their weight, they must be sent to freezers in the fall, before the flock needs to move to hay feeding.  Red meats like lamb and beef and fall pork can also be cured so as not to require refrigeration.  Most curing done today however still needs refrigeration.  Curing is as much of an art as it is a science.
Broiler chickens of a meat type breed can be ready for the pot in as little as 2 months.  Chicks naturally start to hatch in the spring as laying hens increase their laying of eggs with the flush of spring bugs and warmer weather.  Spring and summer chicks supply people with summer and early fall chicken dinners.  In the case of Pigs, piglets grow to market size in as little as five months.  If they grew all summer, one would likely have to split chops between two people for a meal!  If given enough facilities to farrow, or give birth, in early spring the first pork could theoretically be ready in time for the Fourth of July Barbeque.  Pork is sometimes called “The other white meat” and works well with lighter fare as well.
Red meats often feature in much heavier meals that are most welcome during the cold months of the year, when they are most available.  White meats however work much better in lighter fare during hot summer and early fall months.  While our mainstream culture may not generally promote meats seasonally, one might notice the prices of these meats fluctuate with the seasons because in many ways our conventional system has not yet conquered the seasons and seasonality of production.  With natural, grass-based systems, one can be allowed to revel in seasonal bounty with meals for each season!

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