Delivery & Pickup Route – Backhauling
Route as it was written in 2010 at article writing.
A few question about your delivery-logistics: You wrote, you drop off pigs and pickup meat. Do you wait a few houres at the butcher-shop until your pigs are butchered and deliver the fresh meat to the costumers? -So you dont have to freeze and store the meat? Or do the butcher store it for you until next time? And if so: what do you think about shock-frosting? -is it really necessary for maintaining meat-quality? Thanks. I’m enjoying reading your blog, while doing my bureau-job, dreaming of land-live…;) best regards, Peter
Good questions. Here’s the sequence, using letters to keep track of pigs:
This week we deliver pigs M using the animal transport area in the back half of our extended body cargo van. They went to the slaughterhouse which is at the ‘A’ on the map above.
After the pigs were unloaded and paper work was done we pickup the meat from pigs L who had been delivered to the butcher last week. This goes into the chest cooler in the middle section of our van.
After dropping off pigs this week we head north again with the meat from pigs L to deliver that day to stores, restaurants and individuals.
On occasion we also go to the smokehouse to drop of meat for hot dogs making or to pickup the next batch of hot dogs. That is the far southern tip of the route.
A little bit of the meat from pigs L, left over from what we picked up this week and delivered, goes into our freezer for future smoked hot dogs and kielbasa as well as a little bit of oddments which go into Farmer’s Baskets or sold in batches as happens with ribs to certain restaurants during some seasons.
Meanwhile, back at the butcher, pigs M who were dropped off this week are held for slaughter until tomorrow morning at the butcher. This gives them a chance to recover from their long trip. The barn where they are held is well lit, has many stalls, hay and was designed by renowned animal science researcher Temple Grandin. Its the Ritz Carlton of barns.
After slaughter the carcasses from pigs M go to the chiller where the heat of the meat is removed and the temperature of the meat is brought down to just above freezing. The meat then hangs over the weekend. The hanging allows the meat to naturally age, tenderize and the flavor to develop.
Monday morning at the butcher shop the carcasses are taken from the hanging room chiller to the cutting room where they get reduced to the primals and cut to chops, roasts, ham, belly and the like, ground as needed, vacuum sealed and labeled.
Next week we’ll drop off pigs N and pickup the meat from pigs M to deliver stores.
The reason for this sequencing is that we can’t hang out at the butcher waiting for the slaughter and cutting, the butcher can’t do it that fast, we need an efficient run and the meat really does need to hang for a while to properly age. Some places kill and cut the meat hot which does not produce the best quality. There is a myth that pork doesn’t need to hang. They used to say that about beef and lamb too. Read here to find out about the experiments I did with hanging time for pork – the short answer is hanging improves quality.
Once we have enough frozen boneless meat and leaf lard in the freezer accumulated for making hot dogs or kielbasa we’ll then take that to the smokehouse at the southern most point of our route for them to make a batch or two. Each batch is about 7,000 hot dogs and it takes a while to accumulate enough extra from weekly deliveries. This week we reached that point of having enough so next week we’ll be doing another batch of hot dogs. Get out your sharp pointy sticks!
Shock freezing, blast freezing and blast cooling are all techniques for fast cooling. With the blast freezing the goal is creating microcrystals of water in the meat instead of the larger crystals. This preserves meat quality since the longer crystals do more damage, puncturing the cell walls and releasing the fluids from the meat. In our butcher shop we’ll be using a blast cooler and a blast freezer to control quality. But that is something for the future when we have our own facility setup. Currently we use a standard chest freezer. Basically, the faster you get across the boundary from liquid to solid the smaller the crystals and the better the quality.
Red Eft – Elf of the Woods who does not travel.
We don’t typically freeze the meat we deliver to stores and restaurants. Part of our niche is to deliver fresh weekly. While we do keep the meat at about 32°F, it is interesting to know that meat doesn’t actually freeze until lower than 32°F. The idea storage temperature is at about 27°F [1, 2]. That keeps the meat quality up for longer without freezing. Since we deliver to the customers so quickly the long term storage is not an issue right now but I would like this ability. In the future when we have our own walk in coolers we will use this technology which means we’ll be able to store pork fresh longer without freezing it.
Developing a routine like this is an important detail that makes the whole system work. The van burns about the same gas per mile full or empty. Keeping it full makes it so we’re moving more weight per gallon, wasting less fuel and time on empty miles and thus make more efficient use of both gas and time. Doing deposits, picking up pomace and other things along the route further increases efficiency of trips. The game isn’t miles per gallon but rather pounds transported per gallon and hour.
Rinse and repeat 52 times a year.
Related article: Hot Pigs
Outdoors: 59°F/34°F Mostly Sunny, Light Sprinkle of Rain
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/60°F
Daily Spark: “Specialization is for insects.” -Lazarus Long (R.Heinlein)
Appreciated your "daily spark" from Heinlein's Lazarus Long character. I review books for the Sacramento and San Francisco Book Reviews. I do 175-200 words after a thorough read and I get paid the book. My budget does not extend to new books very often otherwise.
Every time Baen Books reissues one of his juveniles, as they have been doing, I snag it and review it lovingly as a way of saying a posthumous thank you to the old fellow. Aside from my father, I received the bulk of my ethical training from Mr. Heinlein. And my dislike for specialization.
Neat picture of the Red Elf!!! I love salamanders!!
That was interesting how you have it all worked out for delivery of you pigs and meat. No wonder you need a van that runs well!!! Glad you can work on it yourselves.
You and your family are so efficient in every way, amazing operation and co-operation!!! Have a great weekend.
That is quite a drive to the slaughterhouse, no wonder you are working so hard to build your own butcher shop! I hate commuting, so I chose an apartment within biking distance to work, but I suppose that driving so much isn't too bad if it is only once a week.
Yes, I live a city, but in my defense I have no aptitude for growing plants. After my most recent basil plant casualty I'm about ready to throw in the trowel. Fortunately I have a weekly CSA delivery to provide me with local fresh veggies year round (Georgia). So for now I'll live in the city and let the farmers do the farming!
I love your blog and all your detailed explanations, thank you.
Thanks for the very detailed and useful information -as usual- !
Have a nice weekend!
Lazy Saturday here. Looked at your picture of the Red Elf again, anything to avoid IT study. Remarkably similar to the California Newt, met occasionally while hiking. Thinking about salamanders led me to a connected thought chain. In The Body Electric, many years ago, the author pointed out that salamanders retain totipotency (the ability to regrow) over most of their bodies, where we, on the other hand, only have that ability on fingers and toes beyond the first joint until puberty. The other day I saw a BBC article on a grown man who, with the help of a powder produced from pig bladder tissue, had regrown the top end third of a finger. Have you considered some of the specialized pig products? It seems your niche is value added through brights anyway . . .
Great picture, and thanks for going over your route. You must develop incredible efficienies in order to maximize time and productivity. Hard for most of us to imagine!
Waaaaaaait a minute, you drive to Adams for butchering?!?! And near Springfield for smoking? Why, that means you are coming closer to Cape Cod with pork!! (Okay, it's not that close, I just got all excited.)
My husband's family raised pigs when he was growing up, but we don't have any now.(I think sometimes he misses them) We do have cattle, and raise crops, and that keeps us pretty busy.
I just finished watching a great spot on PBS Newshour called "Small Enough to Succeed." It highlighted some of the (many) advantages small, worker-owned businesses have, especially in a recession. It reminded me of your great farm and butcher shop project. The link is wicked long, but a google search for "small enough to succeed" puts the pbs page with the video and transcript.
Walter, its been a week. If you're down and out in one of your big fields of yours send up a flare. We'll come get ya. We need ya.