“The Family Pig” Complete Harvest
The Family Pig is an earnest and winsome course in domestic pig raising, harvesting and eating. Inspired by the pig, we go deep and wide in the preservation of pork, the salting of bacon, the harvesting of innards, the carving of flesh and the unreproved indulgence in fat and salt. You take with you not only a package of educational material and sausage of your own making, but the working knowledge of harvesting two pigs from the field to the two-year-old prosciutto hanging in your kitchen.
*2023 Spring classes in Tulsa, Oklahoma.* June 1-3 and June 15-17 now available
April 20th-22nd, April 27th-29th, June 15th-17th, June 1st-3rd, May 11th-13th
Philip Honzay –
Having not taken an extended leisurely journey since our marriage over three years prior, this class with the Sheards became the de facto honeymoon for my wife and me. We couldn’t have enjoyed it more! The 3-days of working with our hands, learning when there are narrower margins for error and when personal preference and taste should be your guide rather than strict rules, was helpful in building an understanding and confidence in the process from kill to plate.
Since then we’ve successfully been able to begin the process of rebuilding the hog harvest tradition my family farmstead had known with previous generations. Thank you Farmstead Meatsmith!
Brandon Sheard –
Thank you Phil! Great to hear from you. Kind words and I’m glad the knowledge has been put to use. I keep thinking this kind of class would be a great vacation for Brandon and I too someday 🙂
Jaculin Dougher –
Taking 3 days off was challenging for me, but so very worth it. Your little bit of heaven in the Northwest is beautiful and a perfect location to “pack it all in” (pun intended). I am not quite ready to embark on solo butchering right now as I would describe myself as a 120# Chef de Cuisine in the making. I am however now confident I could enlist enough help to actually do this! What a wealth of knowledge you both have. By melding old world secrets with modern day triumphs your talents have produced a true gem. I can’t wait to enjoy prosciutto and your humble recipes are genuinely brilliant in their simplicity. I was so excited to share all my pictures while my family remarked how delicious the plunders from the class were. Truly farm to table is amazing and you are providing a remarkable resource to resurrect an almost lost art. Keep up the podcasts and your Newsletter is invaluable.
Thank you and Blessings to your beautiful family.
Jaculin Dougher Nov 2018 class alumni
Ken Smith (verified owner) –
Brandon is one of those teachers that I would seek to study with even if I had no interest his craft, so in love is he with his art. He embodies the lesson he wishes to share. It is an incredible gift to be welcomed to his home and to have access to him in an intimate setting for three days.
One of the things I learned that was most surprising is how straightforward many of the techniques are. All of the recipies can basically be boiled down to starting with well cared for animals, treat them with respect, maybe even reverence, honor the fat, and add salt. I’m much less intimidated by the idea of preserving meat so that it ‘goes good’ and am comforted by my favorite mantra from the class, ‘fat is forgiveness’.
There is a more rambling review, with pictures, here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/ken-smith/charcuterie-class/10161850187240523/
Carrie Nyden (verified owner) –
The Farmstead Meatsmith class is nothing short of life changing. To experience everything from the slaughter to breaking down the pig to making some of the after products is empowering. I have been removed from the food system my entire life, so learning and experiencing these skills helped me overcome deep-seated fears and gave me confidence that I can do this on my own.
Brandon is incredibly patient, thorough, and listens to everyone’s comments and questions. There is a sense of community and lack of judgement throughout the class. I think Lauren and Brandon embody both of those values and they come through to the students. For me, these values were impactful since many group classes (not necessarily in the slaughtering realm, but in butchering, cookery, etc) don’t embody these and I can fall in the trap of perfection and comparison.
It was really neat to meet and work alongside people who value traditional methods, well raised meat, good food, and nourishing their family and communities. Coming from a city, this isn’t something I’m used to being around. In the city, food seemed either consumed out of convenience or pure aesthetics – not focused on the farmer, the animal, sourcing, and how to help the health of the community as a whole.
Before this class, in listening to their podcast, their lessons have impacted my and my fiancés choices and how we’ve chosen to lead our lives going forward. It was incredible to be immersed in their world, meet their children, and experience a bit of how they lead their lives. Thank you Brandon and Lauren!
Jeremy Chenvert (verified owner) –
I took the Family Pig class in May 2020, now its the end of the year I have a freezer full of home grown meat and the knowledge and confidence to do more. Though I had experience in butchering smaller animals, a pig always seem to be too much. Once I went through the class I realized anyone can do this and everyone should.
I recommend this class to anyone. Brandon teaches his knowledge in a way that is digestible and his family treats everyone as one of their own.
Belinda Richardson (verified owner) –
This workshop is an extraordinary experience. When I participated, the class was a small, diverse group from all over the country with a range of skills and experiences. Yet Brandon and Lauren have somehow created a course that is perfect for everyone. A practical, hands-on learning experience from slaughter to butcher to culinary with the space for conversation around the philosophy, challenges and ultimately the joy of ethically-raised meat and healthy food systems, communities and families.
Whether you hope to gain new skills or hone your skills for personal or professional reasons, or you simply want to experience what good meat can be, I would recommend this class to anyone without reservation. As previous reviews have said, it’s nothing short of life changing.
Larry Kapigian (verified owner) –
Words cannot express my gratitude to Brandon Lauren and everyone in the class ….Just Do It, you wontbregret it is all I have to say
Ron Jones (verified owner) –
I attended the Family Pig July 22nd, 2021. My goal in attending the class was to be familiarized with the total harvesting of the beautiful pig, to become proficient enough to offer this animal to our customers alongside the broilers and eggs that my wife and I already make available. The class was, very literally, exactly what I was looking for. Brandon, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your experience and passion with us all so freely. Turns out,, the harvesting of the pigs was “ultimately doable”, the challenge was trying to fit in my brain the almost constant information coming from Brandon! I feel comfortable taking my small farm business to a new place with what I learned. That is invaluable. Also, I would like to say thank you to Lauren for her delicious bread, meat pie and lovely hospitality. You two are great folks and I’m grateful to have had a chance to meet you. Thank you again and God bless you and your family!
Mark Wadsworth (verified owner) –
I attended the first class in Oklahoma. In short, it was absolutely fantastic and I would highly recommend it to anyone. After participating in the three-day course, I feel comfortable in my ability to harvest my own pigs. Thank you Brandon for all the information that you imparted to us. And thanks to Lauren for the wonderful meals. It was truly a life-changing experience.
Chance King (verified owner) –
My wife and I recently attended the May 2022 class in Oklahoma and I cannot say enough good things about Brandon, Lauren, and the class. The 3-day class was extremely well laid out and while there was a lot of depth to the information presented, we never felt overwhelmed with information. The class gave us an excellent, hands-on experience to pair with the Meatsmith membership as we move forward in raising and harvesting our family’s animals. My wife made the comment as we were driving home after the class that she wouldn’t ever trust anyone besides us to process our animals from now on. If you are on the fence about taking time off work, spending the money, etc., just make the jump and sign up. This is one of the best investments we’ve ever made in our homestead and our family. I will definitely be taking any other future classes that Brandon offers. I would also encourage you to bring your spouse along with you. Not only was it a fun trip and a great way to spend time together, but we each picked up on things that the other didn’t. Thank you for such a great class Brandon!
Justin stein (verified owner) –
Where to start? This is an amazing class that is so much more than a cut here, wrap there, introduction to pig processing. This course brings to life a tradition of virtuous thrifty pig slaughter that has been lost thru over processed and sterilized products that we call good pork.
It is a deep dive into how to process a pig trusting the traditions and techniques of hundreds of generations rather than living in fear of the process as certain agencies and experts would try to convince you is right.
So to sum it up, if your on the fence just pull the trigger. You will never regret it!
Kelsey Fernandez (verified owner) –
I waited 9 months to write this review because, like any “mountain top experience,” you will leave this class with inspirational feelings of enlightenment. Well, I can confidently say that this course not only changed my perspective on sustenance, but also has made a substantial and lasting impact on my family’s nourishment.
As a lifelong suburbanite, I approached this class with uncertainty regarding how much it could apply to my current situation. I am blessed to report that The Family Pig course is endlessly applicable if you are a human. It made me more cognizant of the fundamental value of quality food and the noble effort that it takes to produce. Moreover, it revealed that I too can produce it for my family! This class gave me the confidence to raise and butcher my own chickens and rabbits for our table. It also encouraged me to find like-minded people and take the leap of raising a couple backyard pigs for our local community. We are set to slaughter and butcher in May – exactly one year after taking the course. Living in the shadow of Los Angeles I would have previously not thought this possible. But Brandon’s instruction, thoroughness, and conviction were such that I cannot imagine not raising my own pigs. I am deeply grateful that the Sheard family is sharing their treasure trove of knowledge in this strange age. Invest in yourself and your family: take a Meatsmith class.