How do you tell the story of our pork partner, when it's so much more than that? While Clear Creek is known for raising hogs, it is also a dairy farm, homestead and a place to host guests and events dear to the owner’s heart. So I guess the best place to start this story of the farm is my journey to get there.
The closest airport to Clear Creek is in Omaha and the Primal crew and I drove three hours west through thousands and thousands of acres of government-subsidized corn and soy fields with a few feed lots mixed in until we made a right-hand turn onto 499th Ave. As you travel down this dirt country road, the corn and soy seem to dissipate and the green, lush trees and beautiful rolling hills took over. One last left turn to cross over Clear Creek and on the right is a small, modest sign that reads, “Clear Creek Organic Farm”.
After we parked, we were greeted by a man that stood about 6’2”, wearing wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, a long-sleeved button-up shirt and a large belt buckle that read, “Father of 12”. Known by his friends as Bob, I had only ever known him as Robert Bernt. We shook hands and as we stood there and chatted, his wife came out to meet us. Then one of his kids came by, and another, and another, and another. With each of his children, after the introductions, Bob would mention what job they were in charge of on the farm.
At this point, I was already in love with the place, but I think I loved it even more knowing it was run by Bob and his family, a true family farm. Bob wanted to know what we wanted to see and we blurted, “EVERYTHING!” and for the next 5-6 hours, that’s exactly what we did. He brought us inside the building where they make cheese and the best butter I have ever tasted. There he explained the various processes of making his products such as his three-ingredient ice cream made from raw milk, his extremely delicious raw pepper jack cheese and my absolute favorite (which we are hoping to able to bring to your doorstep at some point), his jersey cow raw butter! Bob Spoke of himself as an artisan and someone always trying to perfect his product, whether it be dairy or hogs and soon enough, beef.
Now, you’re probably thinking you thought this blog was about pork. And questioning, why this dude is talking about dairy production. And my answer to that is…. whey. Whey is the byproduct you get when making cheese and instead of sending that down the drain to waste, it gets collected and brought to the hogs to aid digestion and also build muscle and intermuscular marbling.
So out the back door, we went. To my left, were what seemed like some large dog houses and a few pens used for some of their jersey calves. In front of me, I saw a large shelter with a penned-in yard, a cement trough running down the middle and a large tank at the head of it filled with that liquid gold, whey. One of Bob’s sons opened the container, which started to fill the trough. He grabbed a bucket of peas and oats, threw it in the trough and RAN FOR HIS LIFE! About two seconds later, about 20-30 hogs ran up and started fighting for position for the tasty whey-soaked peas and oats. Bob explained to us that this is known as his finishing pen and those hogs were about to be our next load of pork, but before going to processing, he likes to finish them on oat, peas, and whey grown on his own property- free of any chemicals or gmo seeds! Now I know what you’re thinking, because it crossed my mind too, this place just keeps getting better and better.
And if that wasn’t good enough, I’m still thinking that the best part is that these pigs are raised out in the open, free to wallow in mud and forage what they like. Seconds later, Bob is leading us over some hot wire into a heavily wooded area with a small creek running through and mulberry trees everywhere. In this area, he had some of his large sows (mother pigs) and to encourage them to show themselves, Bob would stand at the edge of the forest and yell at the top of his lungs, “COME PIG, COME PIG!” and for good reason, since these pigs are spread out
over a couple of acres and that’s just for this specific group of hogs. Across the road, there was another large paddock, about 7-10 acres, and this one was full of Red Waddle and Berkshire sows with their piglets that were just days old, but once again, no hogs were in plain view when we walked up. Are you seeing the theme here? These hogs are not squished into some small pen, being fed a steady diet of crap, for lack of a better word. These hogs are being fed their mother’s milk and foraging for whatever they desire in the open air and sunshine. There was no toxic runoff pond or stench that was unbearable to be around- just clean air and fresh, flowing creeks.
We spent the rest of that day traveling around Bob’s large 1300-acre farm. I mean, this place had it all. A family garden, four or five farm dogs, green pastures, grazing cattle, hogs and a small event spot, where in a couple of days, he would be hosting a small event for veterans. We ended up having lunch with his family and listening to stories about how his family inherited this land through the Homestead Act of 1862 and all the battles they fought to keep it. When you have that much land, there is always someone looking to get their hands on it. By the end of this trip, we were calling Bob’s farm the Yellowstone of Nebraska (if you know you know). I left Clear Creek that day having a newfound respect for our pork and feeling fortunate that we can provide such a clean, quality product for our customers and our own families.