Farming Comes Full Circle for Independent Pork Producers

14-pic-1Autumn is many farmers’ favorite time of the year. That holds true for Blaine Perry, who farms with his son Andrew in Northwest Iowa. They’re busy harvesting the crop that will supply their livestock operation with feed.

“We feed 80 percent of the corn we raise, so keep corn for nine months before we haul any of it to town,” explains Blaine, who runs the combine while Andrew hauls grain from the field to the bins. They practice a 50:50 crop rotation, raising seed beans on contract.

When selecting corn hybrids, test weight is especially important. Blaine and Andrew typically spray fungicide because they want the highest quality corn going into their feed.

“We raise corn that feeds our hogs. Then we use the manure our hogs produce to fertilize our fields,” says Blaine. “When you think about it, our operation comes full circle. Hog manure is ‘organic,’ but many people just don’t realize that manure has such a high value.”

These independent pork producers have one nursery that supplies them with the pigs needed for their wean-to-finish operation. Conveniently, one mile away a neighbor built a feed mill. The Perrys haul their corn to the mill, which really helps with biosecurity. Blaine and Andrew are the only two who enter their buildings.

They credit controlling truck traffic and people inside their facilities for keeping their hogs healthier. When PEDV (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus) hit a few years ago, they tightened up security, and it worked.

Producing Pork is a Family Tradition

14-pic-2“Our family has practically been raising pigs since the got off the Mayflower,” says Andrew, who grew up also raising sheep, cattle and chickens. A Perry has been farming in Cherokee County for six generations. Blaine and his wife, Darlene, are the third generation to live on the home place near Aurelia.

Andrew lives Alta with his wife, Liz, and their 20-month-old daughter, Danika. Liz is a teacher at Cherokee Community School. She and Andrew started kindergarten together but didn’t start dating until college.

Farming is all Andrew says he ever wanted to do, so he studied Agribusiness at Iowa Lakes Community College for two years. Then he transferred to Northwest Missouri State where he earned a Bachelor of Technology degree in Agronomy.

When they’re not busy on the farm, this family enjoys taking tractor rides together. All three of Blaine and Darlene’s children enjoy riding together in Peterson’s Annual Trip on Old Tractors (PATOOT). Oldest son, Adam, is band teacher at Sioux Central and lives with is family in Peterson. Their daughter, Brooke, lives in Gilette, Wyoming.

In celebration of National Pork Month, today Andrew is sharing a recipe for Bacon Bourbon Apple Pie. He says Liz has this recipe down to perfection. So go ahead and enjoy the fruits of this season with a slice of life this weekend!

Kraft® recipes writes, “Crispy bacon streusel tops this fabulous apple pie laced with a hint of bourbon, making for a sweet and salty dessert.”

Bacon Bourbon Apple Pie


·        1/2 cup packed brown sugar

·        1 tsp. ground cinnamon

·        3/4 cup flour, divided

·        6 Tbsp. cold butter, divided

·        5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

·        1 pie crust (can use 1/2 of 14.1-oz. pkg of ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust)

·        6 cups of sliced, peeled Golden Delicious apples (about 6 apples)

·        3/4 cup granulated sugar

·        2 Tbsp. bourbon

·        1 tsp. vanilla


1.      Heat oven to 4000F.

2.      Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 cup flour in medium bowl. Cut in 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in bacon.

3.      Place crust in 9-inch pie plate as directed on package for one-crust filled pie.

4.      Place apples in large bowl. Add granulated sugar, remaining flour, bourbon and vanilla; mix lightly. Spoon into crust. Cut remaining butter into small pieces; place evenly over apples. Cover with crumb topping. Place on baking sheet.

5.      Bake 30 min. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF; bake 30 min. or until apples are tender. Cool.