Despite the intardnet drama that often surrounds restaurant reviews, sometimes a wonderful story can be found in the random pile of posts that is this blog.

Here, the story of a certain Mr. Lefty and his cute piglets shall be told.

Berkshire pigs in acorn ridden field

Lefty Ayers is a man with epic interests. He sculpts found art, he does wood burned paintings, he’s an artistic welder, he’s a loving husband, a rancher and a roaster of whole hogs. Oh, he also reads blogs. Or, at least, he read my blog.

Early this spring, I received following details concerning his ranch:

Our leased ranch is 120 acres hidden in the oak and pine covered mountains above Quail Lake. The Sandburg Ranch was started in 1897 and for the most part was known for it’s apples sent in to LA in the 1920’s and 30’s. Some apples still grow from trees that are almost 80 years old.

He continues:

Our pork program has had very good responses from what we raise on a very healthy feed menu. The Berkshires are a new part of what we are doing. Our first ones will be ready for an early summer revealing BBQ here at the ranch. The fresh loins with all the trimmings will be set up for all those that are wanting to try our pork. Unfortunately, there won’t be acorn finished ones until latter in the year.

Dropping the typical hyperboles, it is sufficient to simply say: some people got excited after happening upon the words: “pork”, “acorn”, “LA”.

A month and a half after the initial email exchange, 2 LA boys (the term “boys” used loosely) and an Iowan poet decided to spend an idyllic afternoon wrestling shoats into their new playground with built-in acorn buffet at Reride (nay, Sandburg) Ranch. Ultimately, we discovered there is a tremendous difference between personalities such as the LA Cowboy, and Mr. Ayers, a not-so-urban cowboy.

Mr. & Mrs. Ayers of ReRide Ranch

First, please toss out any image of what one may perceive as organized ranching, think a homestead near the Castaic Lakes, just outside the boundaries of Angeles National Forest, instead. Much of this land used to be an apple orchard. Once upon a time, a unique apple variety literally called the “Sandberg”, now “heirloom”, produced tons of apples from 2000 trees. Now, horses roam, and scout troops come for camp outs and bonding time. Near the house, prolific century old oak trees can be found. And with oaks, come acorns. With acorns, come fatty fat fat piggies.

On this particular afternoon, the Ayer family (and friends, bearing butter churned fresh from local cream) sat us down under the great tree and we had ourselves a Saveur centerfold worthy feast. There were skillet fried chicken, potted biscuit, slow cooked beans, and gentle crisp winds from the nearby forest.

Outstanding in the field of Reride Ranch

After lunch, the magical process of pigs digging for acorn was witnessed by our entire lot after the lucky Berkshire shoals were wrangled into their new make shift pen. Here, the 2 piggies acted as if they were in nature. There was no trough, no feed, no corn. They simply snouted away the loose top soil and went to town on the fallen nuts. For weeks, this is all they feasted. To supplement their diet, everything and anything produced on the ranch’s ground is thrown into feeding ritual; apples, eggs, wheatgrass, etc. Reride Ranch is a pig’s immovable feast.

Going back to the business of eating pork — 6 months after the initial contact, Lefty sold a (blue butt) hog raised mostly on milk and mishmash of pasture & eggs, etc., to a butchering class hosted by Opa’s Craft & Chef Neal Fraser of the temporarily closed Grace. McCalls Meats should have received the first of the FDA approved processed Berkshire raised on a mixture of acorns, milk & pasture as of this post. By now, localvores in Priuses should all be asking the question: how can I eat these cute little things? One, contact Opas Craft, I hear he’s smoking a big ass chunk of ham. Two, contact McCalls and request Lefty’s Berkshire. Three, check back on this space. Reride Ranch is a small operation, and there’s a definite difficulty in amortizing the cost of hog rearing. By supporting this rancher, and requesting his pork, we’re able to further Lefty’s cause of raising ranch fresh acorn fed Berkshires (and by God, maybe someday even Mangalitsas???) within the greater Los Angeles region, at a sustainable cost structure to us all.

Reride Ranch

http://www.localharvest.org/reride-ranch-M39338
Lake Hughes, CA

Click on all pictures to enlarge:

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  • http://theroamingbelly.blogspot.com bagnatic

    there is something seriously wrong about talking about eating pork and then showing a gazillion cute piggy pictures. look at their snouts!!! so friggin cute! i guess here’s another reason for me to eat one less pork belly :*(
    .-= bagnatic´s last blog ..prim and proper eats at jin patisserie =-.

  • http://www.weezermonkey.com weezermonkey

    The cuter the pigs, the tastier the pork?
    .-= weezermonkey´s last blog ..LudoBites 50- Slightly Less Magical =-.

  • http://tricerapops.tumblr.com tricerapops

    @weezermonkey – that’s what i say about pigs.

    i’ll be checking in with mccalls soon…..
    .-= tricerapops´s last blog ..the end of the innocence =-.

  • http://www.stuffycheaks.blogspot.com stuffycheaks

    lovely photos. but i think you just turned me into a vegetarian. poor wilbur..
    .-= stuffycheaks´s last blog ..Le Pain Quotidien- where a sick girl finds refuge in a curry chicken tartine =-.

  • http://inomthings.com ila

    how cruel of you to post all these cuteoverload-worthy photos! :-)
    .-= ila´s last blog ..a noshable honeymoon- Asakusa- Tokyo =-.

  • TonyC

    Dear all, after corralling the piglets and sweating like a pig (pun intended) and stepping on their sloppy shit, I have no problem eating the cute lil bastards. In fact, I’m thinking tonight’s a good night for a plate of fried pork chop over rice. The picture with the shoal blue butts and their soccer ball really does remind me of Charlotte’s Web though.

  • http://www.rantsandcraves.com Daily Gluttony

    Lookit the cute piggy snouts and wiggly butts! *cries*

    You know I eat just about anything. I just don’t wanna know where it comes from. :(
    .-= Daily Gluttony´s last blog ..No 1 Noodle House- Rowland Heights- 1 of 10 Reasons My Job Is So Cool =-.

  • http://burpandslurp.com Sophia

    “come fatty fat fat piggies” –> Laugh my freaking ass OUT. Love the irony here: cute cuddly pink oinky noses sniffling at you, begging you to pet it. And the entire post is really about pork, not piglets. Whatever. Even cute animals are tasty, and they might as well feed us when they’re dead meat.

  • http://www.thethirstypig.com Thirsty Pig

    nice pigs! oink oink My brother used to have a pet pig. Great pets.

  • http://foodiecomesclean.blogspot.com Maggie

    Fantastic post. But one question goes unanswered: what song do you sing when you see the piggies?
    .-= Maggie´s last blog ..Momofuku Chocolate-Malt Cake- Phase One- Crumbs and Fudge Sauce =-.

  • http://www.thewanderkind.com Nancy

    PIGGIES!! HORSEYS!! Bahh!! Cutegasm!!
    .-= Nancy´s last blog ..Cross-country Meat Fest- Day 1 – The Mad Greek in Baker- California =-.

  • Jess Ayers Jr.

    Here little piggy,piggy. My grill is just about ready for you. Lefty’s older brother, and I plan on Pig ranchin soon my self.Here piggy, piggy.

  • Marilyn

    Fantastic job..people need to know good food does not just jump on the table, but is hard rewarding work and you have done a fine job..keep it up…..wish I could have been at your feast.

  • Matt

    Wow! Great photos! What an awesome business to be in. How rewarding it is to be care taker of what feeds us. Your ranch is blessed and beautiful! Had a great time learning the level of care and effort involved in making this all happen. It’s amazing to see the amount of research it takes in getting the right vitamin’s and nutrient’s in their diet. Wonderful operation! Great job Dad and Vicki! Matt & Desirae

  • Anonymous

    Great post, T. LOVE the ones of the snouts. Totally frameable. I agree with Marilyn. We need to put on our big boy & girl panties and face the reality of where our food comes from. That silky pork belly don’t come from a plastic wrapped package in the butcher aisle. If we’re gonna eat something we’ve anthropomorphized, let’s be respectful & use the whole thing. And more importantly, let’s THINK before we eat.

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