Other Farm Products
Here at BOTL Farm, our primary focus is producing the best-tasting pork people have ever had, but we also make many other things. The products on this page often started out as avenues to turn things that aren’t selling well (200 pounds of pig skin, anyone?) into a new, more attractive product (crunchy chicharron in one-serving packs!). Other products, like lumber and wood boards, are a result of us transforming overgrown, fallow acreage into viable farmland and pastureland. Whatever the case, we are constantly coming up with new (sometimes bad) ideas about products. Here are some of them!
Things That Use Lard
We’ve been making soap for ourselves for many years, even before we were farming. The primary ingredient is rendered lard from our pigs which undergoes saponification when mixed with just-the-right-amount of lye. Every time we make a batch of soap it’s a little different than the last, but we often have two main types on hand.
The first is white-ish in color and is made from lard but also a little something else (coconut oil) to add foaminess. These bars are a little moisturizing, or in soap terms, superfat (having more fat than the lye can saponify). They’re finished with essential oils to add a hint of aroma (like tea tree or lemon) to keep them (and you) smelling pretty and fresh. We mostly use this as a hand and body soap, but we’ve heard stories of others successfully using it as shampoo and grating it for laundry. It’s a simple, versatile soap.
The second is brown-ish in color and is made from lard and pine tar. It’s a little less foamy and has a heavier aroma of pine and forest (and maybe a hint of pig). We make it so that it’s slightly drying and use it when we have poison ivy (which is most of the time) to help dry out our skin a bit.
Back when men were men and women were property, women were expected to make lardy biscuits three times a day so they would be fresh-baked and warm for each meal. Fast forward to now, we’re happy to report that we make large batches of biscuits for sale and we also freeze biscuits, so they’re just a thaw away from being ready to eat at your next meal. We use lard from our own pigs, along with locally grown and locally milled wheat flour from Ground Up Grain in Holyoke, MA. We get not-at-all-local cows milk from grass-fed, pasture-based dairies (if you know of a local grass-fed, pasture-based dairy, let us know!) and add vinegar to simulate buttermilk. Like most lardy biscuits, we use the chemical leavening agents baking powder and baking soda.
We enjoy making breakfast sandwiches on the biscuits, or just cutting in half and adding some jam, butter, or both.
Birdseed Cakes with Lard
Birdseed cakes made from suet may be more familiar to many, and that’s a result of a few things. We suspect it’s partly because in the US people raise lots of cows in horrible feedlots and feed them inappropriate feedstuff like corn and soy. The cows have lots of fat around their kidneys which is known as suet. Suet is not generally used for human consumption, so a way to get people to buy it is to mix it with birdseed to make bird feed. Also, suet has an unusually high melting point temperature for a solid fat, which means that the suet birdseed cakes will stay mostly solid in most temperatures.
Since we don’t raise cows, we decided to make birdseed cakes with lard from our pigs. The cakes are delightful, but lard has a much lower melting point than suet, so our lard birdseed cakes should only be used in cooler months.
Other Things From Animals
There is a special place in our hearts for fermented meat. Back before we were farming and did lots of fun non-farming projects, we tinkered with home-cured and home-fermented sausages, bacons, coppa, and prosciutto. It’s not at all legal, not even close, for us to sell anything like this we make at home, so now we work with professionals to be able to offer these products. In 2022 we offered our first charcuterie item for sale, Soppressata. This is a fermented and dried hard salami. It’s made using our pork and pork fat. We hope to offer more charcuterie items in the future!
Egg Pasta and Frozen Eggs
We spend much of the year sold out of eggs, but some years in the depths of winter our egg customers temporarily disappear and our chickens lay more eggs than we can sell. We take the unsold eggs to our trusty cooperative commercial kitchen and transform them into other things.
First, we make egg pasta. The pasta we make has only three ingredients: our own eggs, local wheat flour, and semolina from far away places (we can’t find a local source for semolina). We make each batch of pasta by hand and use hand-operated pasta rollers to form the pasta. We’re simple dogs so we only make one pasta type, linguine. The fresh-made pasta is mixed up with some extra flour so it won’t stick to itself while it’s cooking, put into packages, and frozen. It can go straight from the freezer into a boiling pot of water and will be done in a few minutes!
Our second eggciting product is frozen eggs. We cracked open eggs, mixed them up, packaged them, and froze the packages. There are no stabilizers, preservatives, or salt, so the bags appear quite orange when frozen but turn a more normal yellow color as they thaw. They also sometimes separate a little as they thaw, but just mix the whole thing up and use it for scrambled eggs, quiche, baking, casseroles, and anywhere else that calls for beaten eggs.
The beeswax used for these candles is a byproduct of our honey. There are no additives in these candles – just our wax and the wicks. The wicks are 100% cotton with a metal safety tab.
The candles are approximately 2 inches tall and 1.75 inches wide. During testing they burned eight to ten hours. Mileage may differ.
We made these for the first time in 2015 and we expected them to sell out quickly, but they didn’t. Actually, nobody but my mom bought any for the first few years. Thanks, Mom!
Update as of 2023: we’ve made several batches of beeswax candles and people besides my mom have bought and enjoyed them!
Things From Plants and Trees
Once upon a time, we thought we would grow plants. Turns out, growing plants is not one of our core strengths. We now leave it to the pros. However, we have very few exceptions. When we bought our house, we planted an edible hedge on the property line of perennial berries (are those the ones that comes back every year? We told you we aren’t great with plants). Turns out, this was an awesome decision and we high-five our previous selves for doing it. Every year we have an abundance of berries, of which we eat as many as we can and freeze the rest. Then, after berry season, we make an awesome multi-berry jam. The mix of berries changes a bit every year, but is usually predominantly raspberry and blackberry, with some cherry, blueberry, and strawberry.
We find it fun to leave the berry mix full-seeded, so we don’t strain out any of the seeds (okay, we do remove the cherry pits, that’s real weird to leave them in) so we’re left with a sweet, crunchy, great-on-biscuits jam!
Lumber and Wood Products
Back when we bought the property that our farm is now on, our brother/brother-in-law (Eric) visited. After taking a look around, he declared that we appear to have purchased 40 acres of trees and poison ivy. We didn’t listen to him because he knows nothing about the fun sense of impossibility that surrounds farming, but when he told us we should get a sawmill, we did listen. But, we told him he had to be the primary sawmill operator because he’s a fairly-serious woodworker.
With our sawmill and nearly infinite supply of trees, we saw and sell rough cut lumber. Most of what we saw is pine, ash, maple, and oak. We’re not a professional sawmill and we sometimes are just milling for ourselves and our farm projects, but we do sometimes have slabs or boards available. We’re putting the ‘rough’ in rough cut: everything we saw is dried outdoors, uncovered, and the goats climb on it sometimes. Woopsies.
Occasionally we have meat/cheese boards, cutting boards, coasters, and other small wood items made from trees which grew on our farm and were processed on our sawmill!
Nuts, Fruit, and Vegetables
Although we only have the vaguest notions of how to grow plants, we do sometimes produce large quantities of nuts (chestnuts), fruits (raspberries, strawberries, apples), and vegetables (walking onions, asparagus). We grow these on our farm for our personal or animal use, but occasionally will have excess that we’ll offer for sale.
Last Updated on 2023-02-24