Robs pig

This week I wrote about a trip I took to Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula with Rob Levitt of the Butcher & Larder. He’d purchased a pasture-raised pig from farmers Jess Piskor and Abra Berens. Piskor killed the animal on the land where it was raised, after which Levitt and his fellow butchers cleaned it and broke it down. This is his account of the events. You can read my story here.—Mike Sula

I approached Jess as he was loading his rifle. I put my arm around him and thanked him again for what he was about to do for me. And for what he had already done for me. He and our friend Abra raised a hog for us on their farm in Northport, Michigan. A Duroc-Old Spot cross, it lived a happy life rooting in the dirt and eating whey from the nearby Leelanau Cheese Company along with the apples, cherries and chestnuts dropped from the trees in their neighbor’s organic orchard.

Jess Piskor and Abra Berens started Bare Knuckle Farm a few years back just north of Traverse City, Michigan. They started with produce, selling at local markets and to chefs and eventually added chickens and ducks. They decided to add a few pigs back in 2010, working with their neighbor Gene Garthe—an organic fruit and chestnut grower. We bought one of those first pigs and were stunned by the quality. The next year we bought another pig, but this year, when Abra called to ask if we would like another, we asked about the possibility of coming to the farm and being part of the process. She was thrilled to have us, so we set a date and, along with Chris and Dani, two of my other butchers, I made the drive up to Northport.

I wanted the blood.