At Last!

It has been a very long 5 months since we have had grass worthy of grazing, but finally we have animals munching the juicy green stuff. The drought of 2016 was extremely challenging for us. This is the first group of cows and sheep to get out of their sacrifice paddock and back on grass a week ago. We are “limit grazing” them about 4 hours a day. This week we started the same practice with another group of cows in a different pasture and next week we hope to open up a third pasture. Right now green is definitely our favorite color.

Dennis Farms Leaf Lard


As you can tell, we’ve been hard at work on a specialty product. We’re happy to announce that, just in time for holiday baking season, we’ll be fully stocked with our Dennis Farms Leaf Lard. We wanted to take a moment to explain exactly what Leaf Lard is and a little about the rendering process. 

As we all know, pigs are very fatty creatures. What you may not know is that some parts of the animal yield higher quality fats than others. For instance, most of us are familiar with fatback, which is the fat layer directly beneath the skin. When rendered into Lard this is an excellent choice for frying or sautéing. It has a “porky” or “bacon-y” flavor that can enhance any number of dishes. Because it’s so close to the skin and muscle layers there are often meaty bits left in even after the rendering, which is where that familiar pork flavor comes from. 

Leaf fat is the fat that surrounds the kidneys, and is the purest fat to be found on the pig. It is pure white in color and contains no meat or blood vessels. When rendered into Leaf Lard it is flavorless and is often used in baking applications where you wouldn’t appreciate a porky flavor. Leaf Lard is the fat of choice for making flaky biscuits or pie crusts, but it can be used in nearly any cooking/baking application as it has a very high smoke point and lends no flavor to the final dish. 

The rendering process is not too complicated, rather it’s just a bit time consuming if you want to do it in large quantities. Rendering lard before using it (as opposed to just using the raw fat) accomplishes two things: First, it gives us a shelf-stable product by removing any excess water or other impurities that may cause it to spoil. Second, it produces an exceptionally creamy, spoonable fat that not only melts instantaneously in a hot pan, but also yields the most perfectly flaky pastries. 

So what is the process exactly? It’s pretty straightforward, as mentioned above. We take the raw Leaf Fat and melt it over a low flame, then proceed to cook it for a couple of hours until all of the water has evaporated and the impurities have risen to the top.  In Leaf Fat there really aren’t any impurities, but some of the fat doesn’t melt and instead crisps up into cracklings, which are skimmed off and can be used for baking into cornbread or as crispy salad toppings, or even as a snack (i.e. pork rinds). 

What makes our Dennis Farms Leaf Lard so special? Like all of our products, our Lard comes from our pastured Heritage Tamworth pigs and is high in Vitamin D and other nutrients you won’t find in typical grocery store products. It is a monounsaturated fat, like olive oil, and will keep on the shelf in the same manner. We’ve been hard at work to have this ready in time for the holiday baking season and we’ll be offering this for sale for the first time at the Holiday Bazaar on November 19, details for which can be found here. 

If you’re in the Carrollton area, we’d love to see you at the Holiday Bazaar!  Come pick up some Leaf Lard for all your Thanksgiving pies, or maybe some Christmas morning biscuits. We’re so excited to be offering this product, but quantities will be limited and we expect it to go fast. 

We look forward to seeing you!  Happy Fall!

Dennis Farms Beef in Progress…

Cows on Pearl Millet

Check out these happy critters!  These guys are chowing down on some Pearl Millet.  Like us, they’re just trying to survive this brutal summer weather, and it sure helps when they’ve got a good meal to keep them going.  We hope you all are staying cool (if you are, please come see us at the Cotton Mill Farmer’s Market and tell us your secret!) and enjoying the last few days of summer vacation with your families.

Dennis Farms Lawnmowers

Sheep in Yard (2)

 Dennis Farms’ Lawnmowers
An every summer ritual at Dennis Farms is Janie complaining that I spend far too much time taking care of the pastures and not near enough time taking care of the yard.  The complaining escalates in  direct relationship to the length of the grass.  By the time the grass in the yard is a foot high, my ears are really getting burned.
This year, Janie took matters into her own hands.  When the grass had gotten out of control (in Janie’s mind), she told me, “I’ve had it.  I’m putting some sheep in the yard and letting them eat it down.”
Well, I guess it must be working.  This picture of the “lawnmowers” chewing their morning cud is the 3rd time this summer the yard has been mowed.  That’s 2 more times than it usually gets mowed.  Of course, tippy-toeing around the deposits the sheep leave behind can be aggravating, but a good rain usually takes care of that.