Making Pork a Business and Dining Tradition
“Our family has practically been raising pigs since they got off the Mayflower,” says Andrew Perry, who farms with his father, Blaine, in Northwest Iowa. Andrew 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.
Not only does the Perry’s business relationship with pork go way back, but they also enjoy the fruits of their labor by making pork a mainstay on their dinner table. While nutritious, lean, high-protein pork powers the humans in their operation, the Perrys also make sure to provide their pigs with the right diet.
“We feed 80 percent of the corn we raise, so we 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 and raise seed beans on contract.
When selecting corn hybrids, test weight and quality of seed is their focus. That is why Blaine and Andrew rely on Latham Hi-Tech Seeds for their quality corn hybrids.
“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.”
Until 2022, the Perrys were independent pork producers with one nursery that supplied them with the pigs needed for their wean-to-finish operation. Now they custom finish hogs.
Conveniently, one mile away, a neighbor built a feed mill. The Perrys haul their corn to the mill, which 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 in 2013, they tightened up security – and it worked.
Andrew lives in Alta with his wife, Liz, and their young 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 a band teacher at Sioux Central and lives with his family in Peterson. Their daughter, Brooke, lives in Gillette, Wyoming.
Just as pork production can adapt to most any challenge you throw at it, pork can adapt to most any meal need, even desserts, as Liz Blaine’s Bacon Bourbon Apple Pie proves.
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.