Bob Hope-ish Weather

North Field Finishers, Rooster in Hay and Snow

Looks like a white Christmas. Not that there was any doubt. We got 12″ of snow yesterday and another 5″ today all after I took the photo above. We are deep in snow. I guess Mother Nature is making up for last year. I spent most of the morning plowing and delivering hay. The first plowing of the year is slower and trickier as the ground has not yet fully hardened up.

I buried the north and west sides of the whey tanks to protect them from the wind and cold. A good snow bank does wonders for keeping things warm.

For afternoon reading I’ve been researching butchering. Here’s a good read for those who are interested. I butcher for our family but for pigs we sell we take them to a USDA inspected butcher about an hour away. Actually, there are three we use, each about an hour away in opposite directions. It makes a grand circle around us that also defines our meat delivery route to stores. We’re out in the middle of somewhere.

So why am I studying meat charts? Because how I butcher for our family is different than a butcher does for commercial cutting. I don’t have a bone saw and work primarily by deboning and dejointing. Being self taught my cuts look different than what one gets from the store. It works well for us but I am curious to learn. I don’t know where exactly all the cuts of meat the butcher makes come from. For example, I had no clue as to what the ‘tender loin’ was despite the fact that I do use every part of the meat and thus must be using it. Interestingly, different people disagree [1, 2] so maybe it isn’t so simple… or at perhaps not standardized between the old and new world.

According to the USDA IMPS 400 manual:

Item No. 415 – Pork Tenderloin – This item is prepared from Item No. 410. The tenderloin shall be removed intact and shall consist of the psoas major, psoas minor, and iliacus only. The side strip muscle (psoas minor) shall be removed if not firmly attached. The anterior portion (tail end) shall be trimmed so that the tail is not split more than 1.0 inch (25 mm). The tenderloin shall be practically free of fat.

And from the Canadians we have:

The term “pork tenderloin” may be used to describe the main muscle (psoas major and minor) removed from the inside (ventral) portion of the loin.

So, the Canadian and US governments are in lock step. Everything is to be read and reread, with a grain of salt. I’m incline to go with the IMPS 400 definition and will keep reading now that winter is setting in. This matters because we are selling to restaurants who want to be able to call up and order the right thing. The butcher we work with uses the IMPS 400 so that is what I’ll follow most closely.

By the way, the silly three toed, two legged blue & brown iridescent pig in the photo above is actually our Araucana rooster. His breed ladies lay whitish, blue and green eggs as opposed to the brown and tan eggs we get from the rest of the hens.

Outdoors: 18°F/4°F 5″ Snow, Windy
Farm House: 53°F/46°F eH1 1 round bale south house end shed
Tiny Cottage: 40°F/37°F eH1 Ladder work & Library south partition

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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12 Responses to Bob Hope-ish Weather

  1. I’m serving pork tenderloin tonight, in a stir-fry. One I stripped out of my own pig–a nice 16″ long piece of very tender meat.

    I was shocked when I had a 170# pig–which should yield two 12-16 inch tenderloins–butchered by a “professional” butcher, recently. What my customer got back was a 6″ package weighing barely 10 ounces, paper and all. A good tenderloin weighs around 1.5 pounds or so. I–or rather my customer–was robbed. Don’t know if they pocketed the other 1.5 tenderloins or stupidly cut them up. . . .

    The bizarre thing is that the tenderloin is the simplest thing to remove from a carcass and one of the most profitable–they can go for $8-15 per pound. Most American Butchers–and Canadian, for that matter–don’t know what they are doing. They rely too much on power-bandsaws to do their work and thinking for them and they have no finesse for the finer points of cutting meats.

    As for having a meat saw–spend $20 and buy a butchers meat saw. A hacksaw works in a pinch as well. There is nothing better for divying up a pig. As for removing the tenderloin. . .when the 1/2 carcass is facing you inside up, look along the spine towards the ham for a thin, fat covered tip of muscle which is sticking out slightly into the rib-cavity, nestled up to the bottom of the spine. That is the thin end of the tenderloin. Slide a pair of fingers behind it and gently prise if away, pulling the connective membrane and fats with it. It should come with limited effort until you get to where it ties into the tail musculature at the ham. Then you have to do a bit of trimming and deciding where the tenderloin ends and where the next muscle begins. This is one of the first things you remove from a half–after the kidney and it’s fat casing perhaps. . . .

    The tenderloin will need a bit of trimming before it will look like a supermarket one, but it is one of the best cuts there is for quick cooking. Pork tenderloins have more flavor than a beef tenderloin, and lamb tenderloins are too small–best to leave them for the rack. When I finish editing my “Porkshop” videos I’ll send you one of cutting up a 1/2 pig–the British/European way I learned, and to me, the best way there is.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I use a sawzall with an 8″ course tooth blade as a bone saw If you have a steady hand you can halve a pig right down the backboe in a matter of minutes! When we scalded pigs, I was able to get each half within a pound or two.

  3. Anonymous says:

    That’s all very interesting, but you haven’t addressed the most important issue: will there be an ice sculpture this year?


  4. I highly recommend going to and ordering their MEAT BOOK and a DVD – Pig in a Day. The latter covers meat cutting, how to break the pig down, and some charcuterie as well.

    We are waiting for you to open that butcher shop Walter so we can send our pigs your way!


  5. Kate says:

    This has nothing to do with your post, but I am curious if you named your farm? Is it a nod to maple syrup or to Neil Young?

  6. dragonfly183 says:

    sigh, in 50 years my little section of Arkansas has had 2 white Christmases. But whats cool is I did spells for both of them ;)

  7. Rachael says:

    What a joy it is to read your blog and see pictures of the goings on at your farm, Walter. All that snow! Though I’m sure it’s much more exciting from here in Florida, where there is nothing even remotely resembling snow, than it is dealing with it there in Vermont. LOL!

    I was just checking your blog today because I am wondering if you happen to sell any of the fleece from your sheep to handspinners. I searched and didn’t see anything about that, but thought I should ask to be sure…

    I wish you and your family a very happy Christmas.

  8. Kitchen Garden, I would love to see the video you’re making.

    Dragonfly, I’m sending you snow wishes…

    Racheal, we have sold fleeces but I’m terrible at shearing, a skill I’m still working at. Right now we have none and we’re down to two sheep. There is a gentleman who lives over the mountain from us who has very nice fleeces. I don’t know if he ships but if you want I can ask.

  9. Rachael says:

    That’s okay, Walter, no need to ask your neighbor for me, but thank you very much for offering. I’m interested in getting some unprocessed fleece to learn how to comb and card this spring, and I thought I’d check with you first, since you do so much good work for all of us fighting NAIS. But I know a few other people I can check with about their fleeces, since you don’t happen to sell yours after all. Thanks again and good luck with improving your shearing skills.

    And thank you for the congratulations on my paper. I ended up with a B. It’s not as good as I was hoping for, but it means I graduate in 9 days, so I’m ecstatic. :D

  10. Pablo, I’m working on figuring out where I want to do the ice sculpture this year. There are a couple of different springs I might run it off of. Someday I hope to build it over the lower pond – Ben, Will and I want to see if we can build one big enough to last through the summer – Vermont’s new glacier on Sugar Mountain. :)

    Mark, thanks for the lead on the meat cutting. I’ll check into it.

    Kate, our farm, Sugar Mountain Farm, is located on Sugar Mountain where we have our maple sugaring as well. So yes, it is the maple syrup although it is also a nod to the song.



  11. Anonymous says:

    I find you blog really interesting, the best tip ever was welding hooks on your tractor bucket. I stumbled across this news clip and thought I would give you a “heads up” ( no pun intended).

    The caption reads: Pigs brains may be to blame for a mysterious illness that has struck 11 slaughterhouse workers.

    here is the link:

  12. Aye, I read that about the brains. Apparently, from the article I read last week, they were using compressed air to ‘blow out the brains’ of the pigs. I imagine that atomizes a lot of things that you don’t want to necessarily be breathing. I be sure not to do that!

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