|Two of this year's pigs. |
(And goats and chickens.)
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
For the last couple of weekends I’ve been able to make stops by Public House Produce with ulterior motives – David had a late broccoli crop, for one thing, and then with school out he had some spare eggs that filled out the second plan. But the main reason I wanted to get by there was to check in on the pigs.
Chris and I have gone in again on shares of one of the hogs. We’ll split a pork when the time comes.
Working with David, that means you do your own butchering – likely in early February this year, judging from how the porkers are coming along – and I’m hoping that Chris will be able to join me for the upcoming event this year. It’s quite a thing to be a part of and I’m looking forward to it.
(I posted about the experience last year under the “butchering” label, in the right hand column – although I’ve spared you any photos of the animals during the process out of respect for them.)
Each year, David gets four feeder pigs – weaned youngsters that weigh 35 to 50 pounds, and raises them to a respectable weight. Last year the bunch got to around 400 pounds on average – typically, industrially raised hogs are taken to around 250 pounds. There is quite a harvest of meat from these guys, and even with only a half share, Mary and I are still working on some of the cuts, while Chris told me that he finished the last of their ham earlier this week.
I’ve been trying to find some kind of pig treat that I might be able to give these guys this year. See, last year we had a great acorn crop here at Hawksbill Cabin – we have a stand of a dozen or so white oaks in the yard, and I collected around 10 pounds of acorns for the swine. Later, when the red oaks in the Alexandria neighborhood were ripe, I got another three or four pounds together for them.
David told me about he and his daughter feeding the acorns to the pigs. They’re very gentle with this particular pig delicacy, and snort around for them, picking them up gently in their mouths, lips almost pursed, to savor them. A gentle munch to crack off the hull, and another to break the nut open…then a ginger chewing as if to enjoy every last crunch.
They’re typically nowhere near this careful with the rest of their food, he tells me.
Well, there were no acorns this year, so I decided to try and give the swine some spent grain from the big brewing enterprise brewer Dan put on Christmas weekend (I’ll post on that topic next week). I collected all the grain in a five gallon bucket and hauled it over to the pigs.
When Mary and I got to the farm, the weather was a wintry mix, and the pigs were all snuggled together in a pig pile. They woke up at my approach and were curious about what sort of treat a human might be bringing them. They milled about at the door and finally ventured out into their pasture.
But there was a light rain and some sleet mixed into the weather just then. Even though they watched me slop out the grain bucket, they only made it a few feet out of the barn before they turned back inside.
So I don’t know if they like the spent grain or not…but David assures me that even if they don’t, the laying hens that share that pasture with the pigs will.