Sausage, Bacon, and Ham

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Bacon futures, only $25.00 a share, what a deal?

When my niece told us about the piglets for $25.00 we really couldn’t refuse. It was a small investment for future bacon. We decided to go all in, two for Wendy and Greg, and one for us.

Wendy and Greg (my sister and my brother in law) picked them up in Knoxville and brought them home. They were wee little things, I remember “talking” to them through the trailer window while they were on Briley Parkway heading north. “Snort, snort, oink, oink”, and they replied much the same. We didn’t want to bond with them as pets, because of the inevitable food they were to become. Two girls and a boy, we named them Sausage, Bacon, and Ham, not specifying who was who.

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This is the first day I met them in their stall as they were too small for the pasture yet.

We continued to talk to them in our “pig” voice and they got to know us. We read a lot about how when pigs get big they become evil monsters. Because we did not want to be “hog chow”, we would pat them, pet them, and use our pig voices often. I’m guessing it worked because when they hear the snorts and oinks they still reply and still come running.

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I don’t know which one this is, but it looks pretty tasty!

Since they live at Wendy’s house, I didn’t see them on a daily basis. Wendy put more work into these guys than anyone else. She was the one who would go out to the barn and feed them when they were wee babes. She was also the one who fed them when they grew large enough to go to the pasture. I’m sure her part was more of a chore than my part, I fed them on the days I went with her to Scottsville for feed or when I had saved enough left overs in the freezer for them to enjoy.

Aunt Susan told me at Christmas that we’d end up making pets of them. She may have been right, had she not said it out loud. The plan was that they would be ready by Easter, but like all good lain plans, there are always kinks.

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I’ve shared this before, but I like it πŸ™‚

I’ve probably already told you about how they squealed the day we took them to pasture. It wasn’t too far from the barn to the field, but with all the noise it seemed like miles. I had the pleasure of toting a couple of them down to the field. I got pretty dirty, a little winded, and a ringing in my ears that lasted a spell.

Greg had installed an electric fence around the pond in the horse field, so the piggies would have a nice new home. Michael built them a shelter, and they were good to go.

 

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They made short work of the leaves, grass, and brush. That’s Pepaw and Lovely checking out the piggy pasture.

The piggies have had a good life. They’ve had food and shelter. They’ve had human caretakers who have never been cruel to them. With the exception of the barn stall when they were too small for pasture, they have never been caged since landing in our care. I feel like we have given them a good life thus far.

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They loved their new digs!

As I told you they were supposed to be ready by Easter. I guess if we had kept them in barn stalls with no room for exercise, only room to eat and sleep, that they may very well have been ready by then, but they wouldn’t have been happy piggies. These guys got to run and play, root through the pond and surrounding area to their heart’s content. They ate and slept on their time, not by the lights in an over-crowded feed lot.

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Trying to compare my foot to their size while they eat, laugh, and oink.

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They’re pretty big now.

The time has come where our piggies are big enough for bacon. The last couple of pics are from March 8, 2013. While they haven’t gotten any taller, they are a little wider. We guess that they are between 200 and 250 pounds each. We like to think that talking to them in pig voices have saved us from all the “hog horror stories” we read about and that their good life will be tasted once processed.

It’s no easy task to find a pig processor this time of year. Most of them we’ve talked to wrap it up by March. It seems pig processing is best done in cooler months.

After many phone calls and a lot of googling, we managed to find a place in Paris, TN. It’s nearly three hours away, but that’s ok. We made the appointment today to take them on June 29. Since they are closed on Sundays, we were instructed to bring some feed for them, so that they are well taken care of on Sunday while awaiting their transition from pigs to pork. I thought that was good because these guys aren’t used to going hungry.

Part of me is a little sad that these piggies we (ok my sister worked hardest of all) worked hard to take care of are becoming food. Most of me feels good knowing that these guys had a much better life than that pack of bacon or pork chops I purchased last week.

I’m pretty sure we didn’t save any money investing in the future bacon, but even if we end up paying the same thing we would have paid at the grocer, it’s well worth it. These guys are free range, getting feed as needed, no steroids, no hormones, no crap. They have been respected and treated with dignity during their lives. They had the opportunity to run around and live their lives like regular pigs instead of crowded in cages, pens, or feed lots.

Besides, how many piggies end up getting a trip to Paris? (even if it is Paris, TN)

 

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10 thoughts on “Sausage, Bacon, and Ham

  1. I love that you guys gave Sausage, Bacon and Ham a good, happy life. It is too bad that conventional methods of raising and butchering livestock have pushed the traditional way out. I am a city girl myself, but I like to know that my food did not suffer or live in squalor just to be consumed. So how were they? Best pig ever? Could you tell the difference?

    • The girls were most definitely the best pork (chops, roasts, bacon, sausage, ribs, even liver) ever! We had them processed by Yoder Brothers in Paris, TN. They were both around 350 pounds, and we were able to reserve some of the fat for lard, which was quite nice also. It was almost a year later when we had to find another processor that would come and pick up the male (who the teens had re-named “Bubba” by then). He was over 600 pounds by then. Flavor-wise, he was better than grocery store, but so tough. We’ve had good results with the chops and roasts in the smoker, still a bit tough. We had his hams made into steaks, that made for some great ham salad after smoking.

      I think that if one didn’t know that they were home-raised, one would not be able to tell the difference, maybe just think “These are really great chops, where’d you get them?” As far as no hormones, antibiotics, and knowing that the pigs were able to roam, dig, root, they were well worth the time to grow them out.

  2. How great of you all to do this! It’s still hard of course at the end, but they had great lives and it’s not even a question what a difference this is from the way most of us get our meat.

    • This was our first time, as adults, raising our own meat. On Saturday, we made our last trip to Scottsville for pig feed. We were talking about why we thought our pigs took so long and I gave her my theory of how they were active and had so much space, but it would be ok because we would taste their happiness. Anyways, during the conversation, Wendy said “next time”, which leads me to believe that these are not our last pigs.

      We figure that the hardest part is yet to come, loading these big pigs into a trailer will probably be it, so we’ve enlisted our husbands’ assistance on the 29th. Have a great day πŸ™‚

  3. I spent a summer at my uncle’s pig farm. His only instruction to me was “Never name any pig because you won’t be able to eat them.” I never did name any pig under my care, otherwise my uncle would not have been able to sell any of his pigs (with me squealing that he not sell them).

    • When we were kids, we stopped naming the calves when we found out they were dinner. I can tell the boy from the girls up close, but at a distance I can’t tell them apart. I think if we would have gave the names individually rather than the group, we would have bonded differently. Have a great day πŸ™‚

    • Yes, we are going to eat them.When I was a kid we would bottle feed calves and help our parents to raise them up for beef, so that takes a bit of the weirdness out of it.

      The way I look at it is that these guys got lucky to have us just as we are lucky to have them. Since they were born as “meat pigs” (or livestock) they could have ended up at a big factory type processor that keeps them in pens inside buildings or crowded lots. They could have lived a life being prodded and poked with not much room to roam. I like to think that giving them a life of wide open spaces so that they could enjoy their time (as much as pigs can enjoy their time) was better than the alternative. Have a great day πŸ™‚

  4. My dad and surrounding families where I grew up would get together in Feb/March each year for “Hog Killing”. I sure miss my daddy’s sausage and those days of fellowship! Thanks for bringing back a memory πŸ™‚

    • While we never raised pigs when I was a kid, I remember coming home and seeing hams hanging in the garage and a large wooden salt box. Daddy got them somewhere.

      Those were the good old days, living off the land, not having to worry about what was in our food. Fellowship instead of a million channels and video games. Kids now-a-days wouldn’t last an hour. Have a great day πŸ™‚

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