From Piglets to Hogs to Ham

This past spring, I took the leap and decided to bring two piglets back to our piece of Peacham. The impetus was really that the goats had cleared an area of land of brush, and I wanted to see if pigs would really till it over to save me the tractor work and shoveling. I had always been a bit skeptical about rearing pigs. They seem rather large, dangerous and, well, just too much to handle. But, as my mode of operand um has been to plunge in by the skin of my teeth, I went for it.

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What a surprise. A pleasant surprise. The pigs have frankly been the easiest and most enjoyable co-inhabitants yet. And the most affordable! I have been lucky to find free food scraps for them from various commercial and residential kitchens in the area. So feeding has been practically free (I have purchased 3 bags of feed in 6 months for a total of around $55). I built their earth dugout hut myself using scrap materials, so again, free. And, they are so amenable! They mind the electric fence, keep to themselves, and are rather sweet.
Then, most recently came the time to turn one of those dear-hearts into food to sustain us and others. This part had also worried me initially. However, getting to know these creatures, it was clear to me that their main goal from moment to moment is to fill their bellies. If it came down to it, and I wasn’t bringing them slop anymore, and they were hungry…they’d surely have no compunction about taking a bite out of me. So…c’est la vie! Or la mort, as would be the case here…

I decided to hire someone to do the actual killing. He came highly recommended and, again, it seemed too much to handle for my first experience. Oh, and besides, we don’t own a gun! No need to go into gory detail (that might be a post of it’s own), I’ll just say that it was a very quick, albeit intense, significant and moving experience. All that I had read proved true. The boys and I all took it to heart deeply that we had taken life from this creature whom we had shared land and life with for the past six months.

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What has also proved to be truer than I could have ever even imagined is the flavor of this meat. It defies verbiage. I have never had pork like this before…Was it her free ranging and foraging lifestyle? Her romping games running around the hillside with her sister? The wholesome food scraps and whey in her diet? Probably a combination thereof…She has already in just 2 short weeks provided delicious and wholesome meals to upwards of 30 people and the freezer is full! To this beast, we give thanks…

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Published by azevon

Whatever I think about me can't be better than whatever you think about me. The brass tacks: I am a woman, a daughter, a mother. I ponder deeply and feel passionately about nearly everything I interact with viscerally or actually. Constantly running away from and toward my social predicament: being human.

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10 Comments

  1. I can appreciate how it must feel to slaughter your pet. But, you and your sons are doing amazing transformational labor. I hope that others can appreciate the pure life as you go forward and share more and more of you experiences. Blessings to you and yours. Thank your mom for sharing your blog.

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    1. Thanks, JoAnn. We feel very grateful to find ourselves here in this place. And, we are learning from and enjoying our symbiotic relationship with these other species of co-inhabitants!

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  2. It is possible to be a carnivore and not to eat meat that is produced by factory farming. We are lucky enough to have a farm near to us that only has less than 100 head of cattle, about 80 chickens (for eggs and meat) a few dozen turkey (very agressive animals, too), sheep and pigs. Nothing that comes from that farm tastes anything like it used to when I was a kid. The grazing animals are completely grass fed, and the chickens are free range, although they all have their warm coops & stables for the brutal Michgan winters. I drive down every month or so for a few dozen eggs. They have a variety of chickens, but the araucana lays blue or green eggs, which my grandkids go crazy over. I’m working on my friend to raise a few quail, but in additions to his animals, he raises sweet & feed corn so he can make a corn maze in the fall, raises pumpkins, and the rest of his 900 acres is wheat and soy. Of course, he has 4 sons, and a daughter, all of whom are grown by now, but are dedicated sustainable farmers. That ham you have a picture of is the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen! And if the person you have for your meat maintenance is local, he probably has a smokehouse so that you can do bacon and sausage. Even the head is useable because my husband’s grandmother made her own head cheese. It’s certainly not my favorite, but very popular among ethnic communities.

    You are so inspiring!! Just a heads up. If you do raise turkeys, you have to slaughter them before they start looking like the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. The first year, my friends had 3 turkeys that, dressed out, weighed more than 30 lbs each. Didn’t fit in the oven, and, for food, literally too old to do anything with but make soup, tacos & the like.

    I can’t wait to read further updates!!!

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  3. Ariel – one of my favorite parts of visiting your Mom a few months ago was coming to see your place. I wish the boys had been there, I had a few questions for them but it will wait for another time. Lenny and I love what you are doing. Please keep blogging about your experience. The place is beautiful, and so are you!

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