Ross Mathison, a USMC veteran and farmer, calls a Red Wattle piglet at OutHome Farm in Texas. Photo courtesy of Katie Gage.

Ross Mathison, a USMC veteran and farmer, calls a Red Wattle piglet at OutHome Farm in Texas. Photo courtesy of Katie Gage.

By Katie Gage

OutHome Farm is a veteran owned and operated small-scale farm and ranch in Texas. As stewards of the land, our goal is to produce the healthiest, highest quality products possible while conserving the  land for future generations. Combining  our passion for animals, conscious-living and high-quality food, we are committed to happy and healthy animals, holistic land management, and offering high quality, nutrition-dense, chemical-free products to our customers. 

In our pig operation, Red Wattle hogs are our breed of choice. We love this breed because of their heat resilience  and meat marbling, which gives excellent  flavor. We’ve eaten the best pork of our  lives from our own pasture.  

Red Wattles are also a great breed for pasture-raising because they love to forage. Around here, people joke that we’re those crazy people raising pigs in our front yard. Pasture-raising pigs comes with rewards and challenges. The pigs can do significant damage to pasture if they aren’t managed properly. They  also help enhance the overall health and diversity of the soil and pasture when a solid plan is implemented, including rotating the pigs through paddocks, allowing the pasture to rest, and seeding for recovery and restoration.  

One of the best surprises we had in this journey is something we lovingly  call the #FruitsofthePoops. We feed  our pigs vegetarian table scraps, local  crops like squash and watermelon in the  summer, and pumpkins and pears in the  fall, in addition to a nutrient-dense daily  feed rations. As a result, we often find  surprise crops growing in our formerly inhabited paddocks. This year we  harvested bags full of squash, pumpkins and watermelons “grown” by our pigs.  We happily shared our #FruitsofthePoops with family and friends and used them as  table decorations throughout the year.  

Every farmer makes different decisions  based on what works for them. One of  the decisions we made early on was to  take a hands-off approach to farrowing.  We allow our gilts to farrow in a wooded  area with bales of hay. For this method to be effective, we learned we must be very selective with our gilts, and only  allow them to breed from 8-12 months of age. Beyond that age, farrowing is less successful outside of farrowing crates because of their size. 

As our farm grows in maturity, our goal is to continue improving the quality of  our hogs by selectively breeding gilts  based on their demeanor, mother’s  farrowing success, and our boar’s genetics to ensure our stewardship of  this breed produces the best genetics possible into the future. 

One of our favorite parts of farming is the relationships we build, like sharing high-quality products with others, working with local restaurants, and  creating partnerships with local chefs. Recently, we cut Red Wattle “lollichops” for one of our partners, Voncille’s “Dinner under the Oaks” series, and loved how he  cooked them over the fire.  

For anyone interested in raising Red Wattle hogs, they are a really special  breed and we are thrilled with our choice. We love educating our customers  about the benefits of heritage breeds and Red Wattles specifically. We often receive great feedback on the quality of the products we sell from those who haven’t had exposure to Red Wattle hogs in the past. 

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Katie Gage and Ross Mathison raise Red Wattle hogs, cattle and chickens on their farm in Freestone County, Texas.

This article appeared in our Autumn 2021 newsletter. Want to read more stories like this? Become a member and be the first to read stories featured in our quarterly newsletter.

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Photo courtesy of Katie Gage.