"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Pig to pork

The time has come for the first of the pigs to "come inside" as the euphemism goes. That is to say, be promoted from pig to pork.
Using the unfinished chook shed, the weather was a bit too mucky to be outside.
Table for scraping in the foreground. Wood pile for the boiler on the left.
Boiler, a half 44 gallon drum over the fire, in the background.
Gambrel for hoisting the carcasse on the right.

So a few days ago I got together with a couple of good friends to do the deed. Now normally I am happy enough to do slaughter by myself but with a pig I find I need extra hands. You see a pig needs to be scalded and scraped if it is to be really properly slaughtered. This involves heating up a big tub of water and dunking the carcasse which is not as easy as it sounds. Especially when the pig weighs in at over one hundred kilos. Funny how the mind can play tricks, they look much smaller running around the paddock than they do when you have to lift it into the wheelbarrow. It took three large men to lift it.
Too big for the bath, Hmmm should've thought of that earlier.
We tied the legs together to make lifting easier and lowered it into the water. Then after the prescribed time we raised the carcasse onto the table to be scraped down. Scraping removes all of the bristles as well as the outer layer of skin. No matter what colour your piggie started out as he will become pink all over after being scraped.
Scraping using tin pot lids. Not very high tech but it works.

As it turns out the scraping did not go as well as I had hoped. I had made the water hotter than it should have been and so we lost some of the skin altogether. Bummer. Made no difference to the meat but looks bad. Then we hung the carcasse on the gambrel to take out the plumbing (guts) and cut it down the centre. A chainsaw works well for this although the real experts can do it neatly with a cleaver. I am not an expert. From the offal we keep the liver for liverwurst and the kidneys for breakfast. I also use the opportunity to check for parasites and to ensure the animal is healthy. In this case the kidneys were clean as a whistle. If you are really enthusiastic you can clean the intestines to use as sausage casings. I buy mine from the butcher (the only thing I buy from the butcher) ready cleaned and salted.
We then put the two sides into the cold room at a friends place (ours is not complete yet) for a few days rest.
Yesterday I picked up the sides and broke them down into cuts, roasts and mince. This morning we had some really excellent pork chops for breakfast. The meat is firm but tender and richly flavoured as good pork should be. It is completely unlike the white, soggy and somewhat tasteless meat of the chemically fattened victims available in the supermarket!
I was at the feed store this morning and I happened to notice a phamplet advertising different pig feed products. It claimed that with their feeds (full of growth additives and hormones) you could raise a pig to one hundred kilos in just twenty-two weeks. I laughed out loud. My pigs are over one hundred kilos in the same time on a diet of millrun, corn and free range pasture. We add some potatoes, skim milk from the cow and vegetable scraps from the garden and that is it! Not a single trace of growth additive or hormone ever, yet we produce better pork. 


  1. I always get muchy after reading this blog!

  2. Um - I mean munchy :)