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Home » The Farm

A Christmas Pig’s Tale

Submitted by on January 13, 2010 – 5:24 pmNo Comment

Twenty minutes outside of Stratford and enroute to Christmas family fun in the Ottawa valley is Church Hill Farm, a small family run organic livestock farm where beef, pork, lamb and poultry heritage breeds are humanely raised primarily for the local restaurant industry. After meeting Max and Vicki Lass, the farm’s owners and operators, at a Christmas party, my partner Lana and I decided to buy a pig as a Christmas present for our families back home. The English Large Black pigs that the Lass’ raise, however, are quite monstrous and it was evident that a whole pig was not going to fit into the truck of our car. We happily split the pig with the Lass family and hoped that the weather would be cold enough to keep the freshly butchered pork frozen over the course of the next week or so.

Arriving at the farm, we were greeted by Puppy, the family’s affectionate Labrador Retriever, and a chowder of farm cats who looked like they longed desperately to be indoors. Farmer Max offered us a beer and led a fireside chat by the family hearth, a custom designed wood stove that both heats the house as well as smokes bacon, ham and turkeys. A Christmas bird just happened to be occupying the smoker and the table set for some very lucky guests later that evening. This is definitely not the style of service you get at the deli counter at Zehr’s. Meantime, the Lass’s two kids, although a bit shy, I suspect, were curious enough about me and Lana that they hung out and made small talk, anxious, I think, to give us the inevitable tour of the barn. The tour, as it turned out, would be both business and pleasure as the kids had their afternoon chores to which they still had to attend.

The barn was teeming with life. In addition to the astonishingly large and accurately named English Large Black pigs, there were horses, cows, sheep, chickens, turkeys, cats and dogs, kids doing chores and adults taking tours and pictures. We met our butchered pig’s parents and were encouraged to give them a pet. These giant, floppy eared beasts look more cuddly than they actually are, however, as their spindly black hairs have all the warmth of porcupine quills. But what did I care? It’s what’s inside that counts, right? Beauty is in the rib-eye of the beholder, right? Ok, I’ll stop.

The real point of the story is that a pig, sustainably, locally and humanely raised on a small, family run farm, may be the perfect Christmas present. The recipient of such a present will dine on delicious, organic meat that they would otherwise have to spend hundreds of dollars to eat at some high falutin restaurant. I can’t describe to you in words the difference between Church Hill Farm pork loin roast and the lily-white, cellophane-wrapped pork chops you get the grocery store. You will also be encouraging the continued operation of family run farms that have an obvious connexion with their animals. (The Lass’s young daughter needs to be reminded not to name the animals lest she get too attached.) And from an economic perspective, all the money you spend on products at a local farm stays in the community instead of doled out as end-of-year big box store stockholder’s dividends.

Merry Christmas and buon appetito!!

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