Education is a big part of what we do here at Hickory Nut Gap. This spring we’re initiating spring field trips for pre-k through middle school students. Field trips are only $5 per student and we accept groups of all sizes. Set up a group by calling the farmstore at 828-628-1027.

It’s especially hard for kids to sit still when the weather is this beautiful. Here on the farm we’ll take them out to see our berry bushes, talk about soils and the needs of growing plants, and see some of the animals that live here at Hickory Nut Gap. They’ll also participate in activities to reinforce the lesson and help them get out all those warm weather wiggles. We accept groups of all sizes so please call if you have a group that may be interested and we can arrange the rest of the details.

 

Sorry for any confusion about the April date that appeared here earlier. May 18th is the new official date for the Open House.  If you’ve been telling yourself for months that you need to make it out the farm but you just haven’t had the time or found the right occasion, look no further. We are having an Open House on May 18th at the farm, which is located at 57 Sugar Hollow Rd. in Fairview. The event also includes a  Farm Tour at 3pm and free samples! 

Come check out our farmstore where you can buy fresh 100% grassfed beef, pastured pork and poultry, plus tons of other local food and craft items. Go on the Farm Tour with Jamie Ager and romp around the farm to see how we raise our animals and learn about our vision as a farm and local business. Try some of our cured pork and fresh cooked meats. No need to reserve a space or rsvp, just come on out and enjoy a little springtime on the farm. Hope to see you soon!

Just don’t have time to drive all the way out Fairview? Come visit us at our farmer’s market venues. We will be selling our products on Saturdays at the North Asheville Market on the campus of UNCA and at Asheville City Market, which is located at 161 South Charlotte Street in the parking lot of the Public Works Building. We’ll also be at the West Asheville Market on Tuesdays. Hope to see you there!

That’s right, the weather is warming up and that means we’ll have fresh chicken soon. Starting April 24 you can come out to the farmstore or visit us at our farmers market venues and buy fresh, never frozen chicken. We raise our poultry out in the pasture so they have plenty of space to knock about in the dirt and enjoy the fresh green clover and the warm sunny days of spring.

Pastured chicken is consistently found to have higher levels of vitamins A,C, and E, as well as much higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotene. Not only that but it tastes great too! This year we’ve come up with a new pasture rotation system for our poultry so that we will have fresh chicken all summer long. We will also bring chicken to our Market locations starting this weekend, 4/6/13 at the Asheville City Market.

There is no doubt in my mind that full grown pigs are the ugliest animals on the farm. They’ve got stunted snouts, bristly hair, sandpaper-rough skin, flabby haunches, awkwardly pointed mouths… they’re just unattractive. Not only that, but they smell to high heaven and any time you go into their pen they nibble curiously at your shoes, which wouldn’t be so bad except that, without a proper shooing, they’ll quickly develop a taste for leather boots and go for a full on chomp. I can’t even begin to embrace the width of their acoustic production, a category which is rife with sounds as diverse as the throaty grunt and the shrill, intolerable squeal. Even the various titles which we use to refer to them hint at the creatures’ comeliness; pig, hog, boar, sow, etc. They are words that seem to be derived directly from the grunting language of the pigs themselves.

Despite all that, if you asked me to assert which is the cutest animal on the farm, I wouldn’t hesitate to put forward the infant version of this same animal. It may seem strange that a creature can develop from an absolute delight into an unmitigated irritant, but it’s true. For some reason the stubby nose on a piglet is endearing. Their grunts sound almost like giggles. They squeal, but it makes you want to offer protection rather than cover your ears.

We don’t farrow pigs here on the farm. Normally we only raise feeder pigs, meaning they are several weeks or months old when they come to us. One of our sows must have arrived on the farm pregnant because when we went to sort the pigs out a few months ago, we were surprised to find that she was certainly carrying a litter. We made her a cozy nest of hay in one of our mobile shelters and covered the entrance with a tarp to keep out the cold drafts. Sure enough, about two weeks afterward she gave birth to eight of the cutest little creatures I’ve ever laid eyes on. I don’t know exactly what quality it is that makes infants so appealing other than their total need, both physically and emotionally, for protection and provision. Once that obvious need is gone, I find that much of my patience diminishes too. For now though, these guys positively reign in the cuteness department (though Amy and Jamie’s son Levi gives them a run for their money).