RicelandMeadows


New arrivals

calicopigs

December 22, 2016

A hush fell on the night. The pig barn was quiet. Only the sound of munching pigs and fluffing straw filled the air. All except, that is, the soft grunts of a mother pig giving birth. I swept the feed aisle and offered a bit more straw to the pigs in their pens. I went about my usual business of doing chores, not disturbing the busy momma.

I found out long ago, keeping to the regular duties of chore time and keeping the status quo, keeps everybody calm. It is times like these that pay big dividends to regularity. Even the dog watching the sow, had no effect on her. The squealing pigs waiting impatiently for their dinner, is just part of the routine. The mother pig stays focused on her delivery job. I finished chores, made sure the barn was closed up from the cold winds then went to the house.

I checked on the mother pig later by looking through the window. I leave a light on making it easy to see into the barn. The mother and babies were snug in a warm straw nest. The piglets latched on and nursing were fast asleep. The mother sow also sleeping sound, tired from her big job. Satisfied, I went to bed myself.

This mother was selected from a long line of females. I have been breeding this lineage since 1986. I need mothers that will farrow on pasture or in warm winter nests … all by themselves. This is the way it was done long ago when pigs were bred for good mothering along with rate of gain. Today’s modern pig is raised with lean muscle in mind, most other qualities are secondary at best. So piglets are born in crates, where nervous mothers can barely move to keep them from laying on their piglets or even eating them!

Yes, having a pig herd such as mine requires more of my time than the standard commercial way of confined feedlot growing. My pigs are raised on pasture or in roomy pens in a barn when the winter weather forces us inside. Their pens are cleaned and their bellies are full. They are not left to walk in a swill of manure or lay on cold, wet, manure covered concrete.

The big shots say that farmers like me can not feed the world because of inefficiency. I say “Hogwash!”. There are plenty of want to be farmers who would take good care of their stock as I do. It’s just that when the mainstream way of raising pigs sucks every ounce of profit out of this noble profession. It can and will turn around, but it will take consumers demanding a better way. Once we force the big shots to produce food as good animal husbandrymen, there will be room for other farmers and a return to common sense where the animals are concerned.

The drawback will be that our food will cost a little more. It will have more flavor and perhaps even be much better for us, but it will increase prices. Our food in America is very cheap when compared to other places in the world, but that cheapness comes at a price. Small farmers get pushed out of farming and animals become regarded as “things” not living, breathing creatures which we have been given dominion over. For me, dominion means care… and I do.



Home Butchering

sowcarcas

December 15, 2016

Home butchering is best done on a cold day. Using nature’s refrigeration only makes sense! This sow was a bad mother, who killed her babies.(It happens sometimes when farrowing in nests) I have no need for a mother such as her, but we needed sausage. I dressed her out before the storm yesterday.

Today, inside our farm’s little slaughterhouse, we deboned her and turned her into sausage for our family. The sausage was very nice, with just the right fat to lean ratio. We will enjoy it in the coming year. It is a wonderful thing to have the knowledge and the where-with-all to be self sufficient. It is even better to be able to share those skills with friends and family.

Perhaps I should make a photo story of the butchering process step by step? I will wait for comments and proceed from there. I would leave out the “yukiest” photos, and simply show my viewers how to dress a hog from start to finish. I skin our pigs. It is much easier to do them that way. Plus we don’t eat the pig’s feet, tail or snout,so there is no reason to scald and scrape the animal.

I confess that having been a butcher as a younger man, sure comes in handy here on the homestead. We will soon be doing beef and a few more hogs before winter is over and maple syrup season starts. Winter is for relaxing, resting and butchering. We make is a social event spending time with family and friends. The youngest people in our family learn early where our food comes from. They also learn to take very good care of those animals and treat them with respect. It’s the cycle of life for us carnivores.



Hanging Out
December 17, 2015, 10:19 am
Filed under: December 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

002

December 17, 2015

Many teenagers “Hang Out”, which means goofing off, sitting around and visiting with friends. Around here it means fall butchering! I am in full swing. We are working our way through the family’s pork right now, but beef processing is on the horizon.

It is a wonderful thing to have our washhouse. Cutting meat is easy when you are in out of the weather. Clean up is a snap with running hot water and a big sink. All of our equipment is in one place and laid out for easy use. Yes, I am very fond of our little “slaughterhouse”. We call it the washhouse, because it doubles for a canning kitchen, a maple syrup filter washing and clean up stop and the home of our on farm smokehouse.

I made this seasons first bologna yesterday. I made enough to freeze for lunches later, as well as, plenty to eat now and share with friends. I enjoy the art of sausage making almost as much as the job of sausage eating :o)

I will say that I lose a little sleep, because I take this job serious. Once the sausages start to cook, I babysit the smokehouse until the job is complete. Sometimes into the wee hours of the morning, I can be found red eyed and waiting for a few more degrees on the thermometer. It’s worth it though, when I pull slab bacons, bolognas and cottage hams out of the hot smokehouse. It smells wonderful and tastes just as good.

bologna 011

Yum



A Real Cut Up
December 18, 2014, 11:35 pm
Filed under: December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , ,
Two nice hogs cooling

Two nice hogs cooling

December 18, 2014

Tuesday, I butchered these two nice hogs. They walked outside to their play area, looked up at me and dropped in their tracks. There was no stress, no shouting, no problem at all. They led a happy stress free life here. They had a clean dry bed, all they could eat and drink and access to a play area every day. The meat tastes wonderful.

Today we cut them up, made fresh sausage, pork chops, roasts and spare ribs. The hams and bacons have been brined and await smoking and cooking in a few days. It was the first big job we did in the new slaughterhouse. The building and equipment worked flawlessly. There was plenty of room to work and having the hot and cold water was awesome!

We had a nice full day with friends and family. My grandchildren made their own sausage, then cooked it in a pan. Fresh sausage sandwiches don’t come much fresher than that 😮  The children helped stuff sausage into casings and even leant a hand during clean up. They were very involved and have a good understanding where their food comes from. They are 5 and 8 and well on their way to becoming homesteaders.

I am tired, but very happy. I see the next generation learning skills handed down to me from my grandparents. My son worked right along beside me. He does better every time we butcher. He made the primal cuts, took the spareribs off his bacon. He deboned many pieces and helped with the brining process. He did most of the grinding and paid close attention to the seasoning process. My wife gave lessons to our daughter-in-law as she wrapped her family’s meat. Yes, it was a very good day!

Primal cuts, ready to go!

Primal cuts, ready to go!