Situated a bit south of Route 24 out on the western side of Chatsworth in the wide open spaces of the farming frontier, is a farmstead that could have easily been the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting. South Pork Ranch, as it is known to its many customers and visitors, has a country format that is displayed in a variety of animals and feathered tenants that occupy this sprawling arrangement of fields, pens, buildings and the barnyard itself. As you drive up the driveway (of the two going up to the house the east one is recommended) you’ll see free roaming chickens walking around and some ducks, if they’re in close, and if the timing is right you might also see some little ones that go “cheep” following along behind the bigger ones that go cluck and quack.
Then as you exit your vehicle you are apt to notice a wolf and a bear – not really, they’re just big dogs that are exceptionally friendly and well behaved but they look the part. Continuing down the things with feathers list there are also geese and some dynamically colorful peacocks which are highly unusual for this area. South Pork is organically certified so they don’t use pesticides or herbicides on anything out there and their variety of fowl species assert their aggressiveness in controlling the insects the old fashioned way.
The owners and operators of this country culture are hard working energetic folks who are continually occupied with the many aspects of successfully caring for their stock, the majority of which is in dairy and beef cattle and a special breed of hogs. There is also a rather remarkable horse that Donna (wife, owner and tour guide) described as a personal pet and, unlike the other animals present, had nothing to bring to the bottom line other than its friendly and lovable personality.
One of the more interesting animals present was in their collection of “Red Wallow” hogs – they had them in several locations with a very experienced schedule of exposure and separation that effectively produced multiple litters of piglets that were carefully graduated into adulthood in supervised stages. This breed of hog was actually on the endangered species list, thought to be extinct for some time, but, thanks to operations like South Pork they now have a much improved livelihood. The term “wallow” comes from a set of dangling fleshy ornaments that hang from each jowl and serve no known purpose other than to substantiate the name. However, there are some Chicago Chefs who have commented that these wallows cook up nicely as a fatty taste ingredient to some of their pork dishes. These animals aren’t little either, they are some of the larger hogs you’ll find and the boars have been known to nudge a 1000 pounds.
The cattle population is all raised in the adjoining pasture lands and they grow up munching on what nature intended for them to eat so they aren’t artificially conditioned with steroids and the like which means the milk and beef they produce is a lot purer by most evaluations.
The operation includes a milking station and a neat little Country Store that is stocked with a variety of products from the farm’s repertoire that show up in the form of soaps, special jars, meats, eggs, and a lot more. Their shelves also have items from the expertise of some of the surrounding artistic enthusiasts. A good portion of South Pork Ranch’s production goes directly to commercial consumers but there is enough left over to give the store a well balanced supply that keeps the regulars coming back and gives the newcomers something to chirp about. If you get there and find that a tour can be had you’ll find it most interesting – you’ll see those big ol’ funny looking hogs, as well as the smaller breed, and, they’ll probably be pretty dirty but, don’t worry – we’re told they clean up nicely!
Out there in between some of those livestock containment areas you’ll even see an old relic of a tractor, inoperable but timeless in its representation of old time farming life. Its a farm, its a business, its a domestic animal haven and its worth a visit. You may even feel the urge to succumb to the old E-I-E-I-O syndrome but that’s ok because out there at the Ranch, it fits just fine.