"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pig and Cow (Major Meat)

Long summer evenings and good weather have us out in the yard until late in the day. I haven't mowed the back yard in a few weeks; partly for the benefit of the bees and partly to have a nice carpet of clover available for fattening up the cow, who will be meeting her destiny as a meat animal as soon as this summer is over. Today when I let the goats out to graze, the cow came barreling out as well - nearly knocking me over - and so I grabbed a rope and tied her up smack in the middle of the clover-carpet. 

The rope was maybe too long, and the cow was overexcited at being out of the back pasture for the first time in her woefully short and dim memory. She capered about, knocking over the burn barrel to eat the salty ashes, upending the ferret's play-cage, and generally wreaking havoc. She trampled the new lawn game I bought last week (ladder ball) and now we will have to repair it with many yards of duct-tape. As annoying as all that was, it was also hilarious and delightful to watch her happily kicking up her heels. Homero was moved to try and ride her, with the results you see above. 

We have a new pig. It's been years since we had a pig - I'd have to look back over the blog to see exactly how long it's been and exactly why I swore off pigs forever. I remember doing that, but not precisely why. Since I have belonged to the Gleaner's Pantry, it almost seems a sin not to have a pig, when I have access to a literally unlimited amount of fresh clean bread and produce. Also, it being high milk season, a nearly unlimited amount of whey from cheese making. The waste-stream to which I have access is abundant enough to support a half-dozen pigs - I have been partaking only minimally, but now I will have to up my participation.

There is a local farmer, a neighbor of mine, an older gentleman who has lived around here since Hector was a pup and who in his retirement still raises pigs and chickens and who imparts wisdom to all and sundry via the medium of the local Facebook Farmer's group. I'll call him the Livestock Guru, or the L.G. for short.  This week, he was advertising barbecue pigs (100-150 lbs) for the fourth of July, dressed out and ready for the spit for $350. At the end of the ad he added "or you could raise them out for meat." I asked, "same price live or dressed?" and he answered that I could have a live one for only $200.

Considering that a 40-50 lb piglet goes for $125 to $140, and they usually sell out in minutes, that seemed like an extraordinarily good deal. I consulted with Homero and he agreed. He spent today fixing up the old pigpen - putting new hinges on the old broken gate and hauling the calf-hutch over from the pony's pasture.  Around 6 pm, L.G. brought over a beautiful, healthy pink pig who immediately went to town on the pile of compost in his pen.

If all goes well, he ought to be ready for slaughter at about the same time as the cow - late September, when the grass is dried up. I have heard that I ought to get on the waiting list at local slaughterhouses, as it isn't always easy to get a slaughter date in those prime weeks at the end of summer.