Hi everyone! I just posted the basics of this year’s February Hog Special here, but wanted to give you more information about where the hogs come from.
We mention in many of our posts: #eatlocal or #buylocal. We don’t just mean that you are supporting our local business, but you are also supporting local farms.
We have a long history with the farmer that we get our February Hog Special hogs from (as well as all of our award-winning competition hams and bacon). They always come from the Lang family.
The Lang family farm in South Beloit, IL, A.M. Farms, is currently being run by Jon and his son Michael, the 4th and 5th generations of Langs to raise hogs in the northern IL/southern WI area.
In the early 1900s Jon’s great-grandfather, William Lang, moved to IL from IA and started raising hogs. His son Ray continued raising hogs until his death in 1967. Ray’s sons, Ray Jr., David, and Don, carried on the tradition. Don raised pure-bred ‘Poland China’, ‘Spotted’, and ‘Yorkshire’ hogs until he retired in 1986. Meanwhile, Jon grew up in the city as the son of a firefighter, David. During that time, he developed a love of farming as he spent his summers helping out on the farm. After graduating high school in 1978, Jon bought his first sow to begin raising hogs for himself. Jon worked with his family on the farm until he and his wife Jane bought their own farm in 1984, the beginning of A.M. Farms in northern IL, raising hogs and steers.
There have been many ups and downs over the years, many of those struggles related to rock bottom hog prices. That was one of the major issues that had Jon considering giving up the farm in 1998. Luckily things fell into place. Jon’s son, Michael, had a deep passion for farming which gave Jon a reason to stick with it and carry on the family legacy. Around that time, the Eickman’s, who also understand a family legacy in their work, were looking for a new regular hog supplier after the ones they had been using decided to get out of the business. Mike Eickman approached Jon about being their regular hog supplier, and that business partnership, and friendship, began and has continued to this day (over 20 years!).
The consistent quality that the Lang family has produced in their hogs is what makes Eickman’s confident enough to use their hogs for our competition hams and bacon. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Lang family is made up of great people. The Langs give back to the community in many ways, through local charities like the Rock River Valley Food Pantry, as firefighters (Jon is also a retired firefighter), as a teacher (Jane), through 4H over the years (I will never forget a beautiful moment at a 4H auction where Jon’s daughter Amy donated the proceeds of her animal to the family of Detective Kevin Rice after he was killed, and the prices went higher and higher while half of us were crying…) and much more that I probably don’t know about. I’m sure they probably didn’t want me to mention any of that (sorry!), but they’re an inspiring family that leads by example, and I hope their family farm continues for many more generations to come.
So now you know: it’s practically guaranteed that when you order a whole or half hog directly from us, it’s going to be a Lang hog.
When we say #supportlocal and #eatlocal, we really mean it. The hogs are born and raised right here in Winnebago County, as were the family that raised them, and the family that produced the final products.
Thanks to the resurgence of people wanting to know where their food comes from, and choosing that it be somewhere local, there have been more area farmers feeling hopeful in a bright future in a time when we’ve known of too many farmers, and small meat processors, who have had to make the difficult decision to go out of business.
So, thank you to our farmers for all you do, and to our customers who choose to support local farms and other local businesses in the community. There’s a definite ripple effect as those farms and businesses succeed and give back to the community in various ways.
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a bit about a local farming family and don’t forget to order your hog any time, but especially during our February Special for a discount!