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The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor

April

The Architect

Clay

From Pigs to Pork a Love Story

On Mother’s Day we bought two pigs. We named them Daisy and Tulip, I know, I know you should never name something you intend to eat, but we can’t help ourselves, we name everything.

We have never raised pigs before and despite many folks warning us of the smell and the filth we proceeded to build a pen to house our pigs. Instead of getting just one pig we got two, because we read how social they are and how they like to play and romp around with each other or whatever they can get their snouts on. We also were considering keeping one and breeding her, but then we discovered how much it costs to feed a pig and we didn’t feel we had adequate pens set up for a sow and her piglets to be comfortable through the winter.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how much Clay and I would enjoy the pigs. Tulip and Daisy had very distinct personalities. Daisy was much needier, she was always running to us to be scratched and hoping for a treat. Tulip was the dominant pig never letting Daisy get too close to the feed trough until after she was satisfied, but like Daisy, Tulip loved to be scratched and would grunt at me if I didn’t give her any attention. If I had to compare them to another animal that I’m familiar with I’d choose a dog, because they play with things, like the tarp that we had covered a portion of the pen with to provide shade and then there were the fly traps that I put around the outside of their pen that they couldn’t resist trying to tear off. If they could get hold of something they would throw it in the air with their snout and tear it apart. They also loved our dog Preacher and would run over to slime his head if he stuck it through the pen to say hello to them. Both pigs would squeal in delight when they saw anybody that might come give them a scratch or a tasty treat.

We raised them for four months in a pen that is adequate for three or four pigs. Next year we would like to build a pen that gives them more room and attaches to the barn so they can have an indoor stall to come in out of the rain and wind. They really are very clean despite their love for mud. They always poop in the same spot and keep their bedding clean and dry. I let them out once and they ran around like demons tearing up the yard until I got them back in their pen. I decided not to try that again.

So, let’s get to the photo diary.
We borrowed a trailer from the gentleman farmer whom we purchased Tulip and Daisy. We’d heard stories about how difficult it can be to get a pig loaded, so with a bit of apprehension we got to work. See that door Clay is holding? That is a hollow core interior door that he stained to replace a door in one of our houses four years ago. He never got it finished before we sold the house and that door has moved around with us and been used for so many different things that it’s now a significant part of our DIY lifestyle. On this day, the door was being used for a make shift chute between the pig pen and the trailer ramp.

The second we opened the door the girls started tearing into the grass. Clay’s holding a shovel because he had to scoop out all the dirt the girls had pushed in front of the door and having a tool in his hand makes him look tough.
Preacher was on hand to give advice and taste test the bucket of slop I had prepared to entice the girls up the ramp. How about those clogs and old capris I’m wearin‘? Huh? I think it was the appropriate costume for the day.
We laid a big sheet of plywood over the metal gate of the trailer, but the pigs would get up a couple steps and then start to slide back down. Did you know pigs don’t do inclines very well? So, we found some old fencing that had been framed for a I don’t know what reason (we have lots of stuff in our barn from the previous owners that has been so beneficial to us). We laid the framed out fencing piece over the plywood so the pigs would have something to grip their hooves to. But, they still need help. Seth had to push their bottoms up while Clay held a board behind their feet to keep them from slipping. It really was a three person job.

Once we had them both on the trailer I gave them a lot of slop and they were as happy as pigs in a trailer full of slop. huh? Oh, right.

Clay crawled in with them to give them some goodbye scratchin‘. Then we put some hay in with them in case they pooped or wanted to lay down, which they did neither and I cut up a bunch of apples for them to eat before we made the journey to the butcher.
We left our older two kids at home to finish their homework and packed up our two little boys to come along. Everybody was okay with the pigs leaving, except Preacher. He doesn’t chase our vehicles when we leave. But, on this day he didn’t want to be left behind and I don’t think he was ready to say goodbye to the girls. We had to stop, put him in the truck, turn around
and take him back home. Clay carried him inside the house so he couldn’t follow us again.
This is the company that processed the pigs for us. We had no trouble unloading the pigs when we got there. They had clean, indoor pens to house the pigs until they were ready to be butchered. The man gave them water and told us he would hose them down after he got our ticket ready. Our pigs were the only animals there that day. It took a week for our fresh meat to be ready for pick up. The cured meat is still being….uh, cured.

After we dropped Tulip and Daisy off I had one very sad little boy. He did not want to leave the pigs behind. This little guy loves his animals, but he also loves bacon.

I also had a big boy that wasn’t very chipper. Because he also loved his pigs but, his favorite meal is pork chops.

I was sad that I wouldn’t have the girls to go check everyday. They had become a big part of my daily routine.

And Levi, well let’s just say he wasn’t emotionally involved at the moment.

So, we stopped to get a soda and some chocolate. And then we returned the trailer. I’m so glad we took the littles with us because when we got to the gentleman farmer’s home he had a new batch of baby pigs that we got to see. It was all we could do not to take a couple home with us. It was a nice way to end the journey we’d had that day.

A week later I picked up all the fresh meat. Goodness, what a haul. This doesn’t include the bacon and hams. I wrote down all the quantities but I lost the piece of paper I’d scribbled in on in one of my cleaning furies. Here’s what I remember;
32lb of sausage, 42 pork chops, ribs, 20 or more pork steaks, 12 roasts, 10lb of ground pork and I might be forgetting something. I had the hams sliced in half and one of them cut into small packages. My freezer is full.
It was a little over 200 pounds of meat. Our pigs were smaller because we didn’t bulk them up with hormones or use any medicated feed. They weighed in at just under 200 pounds each, I think that was their hanging weight. So, our weight to meat ratio is a bit lower than if we would have fattened them up a bit more.
I figured our cost the best I could which included purchasing the pigs, feed, pen, processing all at roughly $1000.00

Which means these thick juicy pork chops cost 5.00/lb. I know where they’ve been and I know how they were cared for and they tasted delicious. We’re looking forward to doing it all again next year and maybe this time we’ll get three pigs and breed one.

HUGE CORRECTION- At first I had .50/lb, but after a couple of you math wizards caught my mistake I corrected my error. Geesh, sorry if I got your hopes up that raising a pig is super cheap!

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