Tag Archives: tamworth

Adult 4-H: The Hog Slaughter Appointment

WARNING! This might be considered by some to be gross, inappropriate, or tragic, but I think it is extremely important share the how’s, what’s and why’s of our food. If you have any questions about anything you see please ask – I love to share about the ranch.

******************************************************************************************

As I shared with you before, our hogs have been slaughtered. That was the whole reason we bought the hogs, to eat them. They were not pets. We never planned on keeping them. They would not have existed at all if they did not perform this function. I chose this particular breed of hog because it is a critically endangered heritage hog. I wanted to use this blog to hopefully encourage other producers and ranchers to investigate the red wattle, tamworth, or hereford hog, to raise! And since I know that happened, I feel really happy about this whole project!

I now see people use the term slaughter and harvest interchangeably. While I attended Chico State, our professor, Dr. Dave Daley, urged us to use the word harvest. And at the time that made sense to me. For me when I think of the word harvest, I think of harvesting a crop, and that usually brings up a very pretty picture in my head, like a beautiful field of golden wheat. But when I asked Dr. Grandin about what word she uses, she said slaughter. I see that point too – slaughtering an animal is not often pretty, there is blood and smells. It’s not an idyllic act. By using the term “harvest” I feel like we are disrespecting both the animal whose life we are taking and our consumer by trying to gloss over something that more people should be able to see and participate in, the raising and slaughtering of our own food.

Now that the slaughter is over I’ve had some time to reflect on my time with the hogs. I deeply enjoyed them, that is true. Did I love them like a pet? No. I enjoyed having a job on the Ranch that was completely mine. I liked cooking food for them and watching as my rations changed how they grew, it was almost like one giant science experiment for me, with bacon as a reward.

We had the hogs slaughtered on the Ranch. It’s called custom exempt slaughter. Animals that are slaughtered this way are not for the public’s consumption. This meat will be strictly for my friends and families enjoyment. I prefer this method of slaughter because the animals never have to leave their home. In the hog’s case, one second they were asleep in the sun, and the next they were gone.

Jake bring the dead hog to the truck to be processed.

Jake bringing the dead hog to the truck to be processed.

Our Butcher, Dave, uses a small caliber rifle to shoot the hog directly in the head. One shot and the hog is immediately dead. Dave then swiftly slits the hog’s throat to bleed it out. One thing I think a lot of people do not realize (because we are very disconnected from death) is when a healthy living being is shot and killed the muscles still have energy. This makes the body thrash and move, again this is something that the movies, TV and video games never show. For people that have never seen death, this often comes as a shock, but again, this is what really happens.

Being placed on the rack.

Being placed on the rack.

After the hog is bled out, he is brought over to the truck and lifted on to a stand. These hogs weighed close to 300 pounds when they were slaughtered, so Dave has a hydraulic lift that enables him to lift these hogs quickly and easily. The hogs will be washed off to help removed the mud, dirt and blood from their coats.

20130312-095440.jpg

Getting washed off.

Getting washed off.

After they are cleaned off the feet are removed and the skinning process can begin. They start on the belly of the hog. They work their way down the sides and around the legs, being very careful not to let the outside of the side touch the carcass. By not allowing the outside of the skin to touch the carcass, they are mitigating potential cross-contamination (aka poo on the meat).

The start of the skinning.

The start of the skinning.

20130312-103556.jpg

Almost halfway.

Almost halfway.

The gamble.

Attaching the gamble.

Once the skin is about halfway off, he put the hog’s back legs in a gamble.

Cutting the sternum.

Cutting the sternum.

20130312-095512.jpg

20130312-095533.jpg

Removing the skin from around the legs.

Removing the skin from around the legs.

Then he cuts the sternum with a saw to remove the internal organs. As he raises the hog with the lift, the organs almost remove themselves, Dave then is careful to clean out the cavity.

Dave giving us a lesson about organs.

Dave giving us a lesson about organs.

The liver.

The liver.

The heart and ventricles .

The heart and ventricles .

One of the many, many reasons I adore Dave is he is a wonderful teacher. We had all three adult 4-H members and two of their husbands out to watch this and Dave took the time to explain everything and give us some lesson. He pointed out what organ was what, and how they all connected in the hog.

Dave slaughtered the hogs two at a time. The hogs were not upset by what was going on, they continued to sleep as this was going on mere yards away from them.

Dave slaughtered the hogs two at a time. The hogs were not upset by what was going on, they continued to sleep as this was going on mere yards away from them.

Dave made an excellent point about the difference between animals and humans when it comes to death. If a human saw his friend get slaughtered and skinned like the hogs, the human would freak out, run, you know, have the flight or flight reaction. Whereas when the hogs watched their companions getting slaughtered they went and took a nap. Many people anthropomorphize animals, and it’s no wonder. Often people’s only interaction with farm animals as children are talking pigs, bunnies, mice and roosters, with human emotions and actions. In real life animals are not like that, they are animals not people.

I thought this was genius, what a great way to make the work easier and faster!

I thought this was genius, what a great way to make the work easier and faster!

After the organs are removed, Dave continues skinning the hog. He uses his lift to quickly and easily remove the reminder of the hide.

This is the barrel for waste, the organs that we don’t eat, skin and the feet. It will be take to the rendering plant and recycled

This is the barrel for waste, the organs that we don’t eat, skin and the feet. It will be taken to the rendering plant and recycled

The hogs done. They will now be taken back to the Locker where they will be cut, wrapped and cured.

The hogs done. They will now be taken back to the Locker where they will be cut, wrapped and cured.

Dividing the organs. I was surprised how big pig livers are.

Dividing the organs. I was surprised how big pig livers are.

I was very proud of my Adult 4-H members for taking the tongue, livers and hearts home to eat. We really tried to waste nothing on these hogs.

Raising these hogs and teaching other women about hogs and the Ranch was a very fulfilling project. I’m proud of it. I’m proud that I know many people learned from my blog. I’m touched how many people followed along and supported me when the drama hit. I’m excited to know at least one other person is now going to start raising Red Wattle hogs, so my plan for exposing this breed came to fruition. Most of all, I’m over the moon about finally getting to try this caliber of pork! Also a big THANK YOU Amy Sipes for posting a picture of a red wattle chop all those years ago, without that picture my parents would have never allowed me to start raising hogs again. I owe you lady!

Again a huge, big, old thank you to Chico Locker and Sausage for allowing us to learn! And being so amazing transparent and proud of what you do! We love you so much! You are such a gem in our community!

21 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, food, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Adult 4-H: Processing the Hogs

This morning I had the pleasure of going to the Locker and watching my hog get cut up. Like watching a master musician or artist create a masterpiece, watching Craig the butcher break down these hogs was just breathtaking.

Linda holds your hand and very nicely walks you through your cuttinh order. It's so fun!

Linda holds your hand and very nicely walks you through your cutting order. It’s so fun!

The best thing about raising your own meat, or buying from people like me, is you get to decide how you want your meat cut and wrapped. That means you can decide what meat cuts you want, for example a pork loin or pork chops. You can decide how many chops you want in a package, how thick you want your chops, or bacon. For a foodie, it’s like a dream come true. I like it because it makes my life convenient – since I live alone, I only got two chops per package.

The whole pig. It took less than 30 minutes for them to break it down.

The whole pig. It took less than 30 minutes for them to break it down.

If you want a more in-depth explanation of these pictures please read Jenny’s post here

This is MY half. It will live in my locked freezer. It's MINE.

This is MY half. It will live in my locked freezer. It’s MINE.

The hog has been split into two sides. They will process one side at a time.

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

The first thing Craig does is remove the leaf lard. This is supposed to be the best lard ever for making baked goods. I’ve never had any before so I requested them to save it for me. I will render it down in my oven and then make heck of pie crusts and tortillas! Yum!

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

BACON

Check out this video of Craig cutting my beautiful chops.

Pork chops! Glorious chops!

Pork chops! Glorious chops!

This is the one time you will hear me say "look at all my beautiful fat!". Don't be jealous, I might share some if you ask....

This is the one time you will hear me say “look at all my beautiful fat!”. Don’t be jealous, I might share some if you ask….

This is a whole pig, granted he was small, but it is still pretty cool he's all there.

This is a whole pig, granted he was small, but it is still pretty cool he’s all there.

This is my Dad’s pork. It’ll get him through a summer of BBQing, it’s nice to change it up with some pork! We love beef, but variety is the spice of life!

This will be sausage.

This will be sausage.

All the scraps are saved for sausage, I wanted my sausage “southern style” because it is my personal favorite and makes the best biscuits and gravy. For reals. Come over for brunch, I’ll blow your mind!

Again, it's mine! It's all mine! It even has my name on it like an adult!

Again, it’s mine! It’s all mine! It even has my name on it like an adult!

Yeah, I’m excited. This was a lot of work right here!

My bacon and ham. Yum.

My bacon and ham. Yum.

The bacon and ham will take longer to get, because they must cure it. They said I would have my ham in time for Easter! YAY!

The Man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Dewey. Thank you so much for being so transparent and awesome! I love you guys!

The Man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Dewey. Thank you so much for being so transparent and awesome! I love you guys!

So my next blog will be what this whole project was about – pork!!!! I cannot wait to try it. Even though I raise animals for a living, I’ve never had this caliber of pork before. I’ve been dreaming about it! What should I try first?!

9 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, Field Trip, food, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Giveaway: Guess How Much!!!

I’ve been trying to “weigh” our pigs weekly, with a weight tape. The weight tape is awesome for lazy kids like myself that don’t want to walk our pigs out to the scales, or for people that don’t own a scale. It’s not 100% accurate like a scale, but it gets pretty close. Since I’m not making a business out of these pigs, I’m not that concerned with with being perfect. This pig project is purely for fun, education and good food, for me.

This is a weight tape. They have them for cattle and stuff too.

This is a weight tape. They have them for cattle and stuff too.

That brings us to the point of this post! Giveaway time!!!! As you may or may not know, my Mom makes soap. The old timey, lye based, goats milk, soap. In her kitchen, using recipes she has honed over the past 15 years. It is the most amazing soap ever (I’m not just saying that because I am her kid, they really are amazing soaps). My Mom offered an 3 pack of her soap to the person that can guess the average weight of the piggies!

Mom's homemade goat's milk soap.The prize! And what a wonderful prize it is!

Mom’s homemade goat’s milk soap.The prize! And what a wonderful prize it is!

This is the deal – my Dad and I are going to go weigh the four red wattle/tamworth pigs and average the weight. If you want to win the soap all you have to do is leave a comment with how much you think the average weight will be, pretty easy!

Here are pictures from this morning to help:

Pig picture 1

Pig picture 1

Pig picture 2

Pig picture 2

Pig picture 3

Pig picture 3

Pig picture 4

Pig picture 4

Good luck!!! I will be announcing the winner tomorrow! And sending them the soap on Wednesday the 2nd!

29 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, arts & crafts, Giveaway, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Adult 4-H: The First Week

We’ve been pig owners for a whole week now. It’s been glorious. I heart pigs. I missed having pigs! It has been an adjustment, for sure! I’ve had to wake up before daylight in order to feed them, take a shower, put on office appropriate-non pig smelling clothes, make-up and still get to work on time. On the plus side, I’ve been so paranoid about getting this done on time, I’ve been early to work all week, score!

Some updates. Char (the runt) is at Kristen’s house because he needed some TLC. He held his own, but the red wattle/tamworths out grew him. He is spending a few days with Kristen and then he will come home to his own little pen until he can run with the big boys. I’ve asked Kristen to write a blog post about being the hospital pen, so look forward to that. I believe Mahina is working on a post too, exciting!

This is why the red wattle are called red WATTLES (the wattles).

Kristen’s sister, Rachel, came over to meet the pigs. She said it was the first time she touched a pig (guess who is doing adult 4-H next time?!?!), she won for quote of the day. Rachel please don’t kill me for sharing this, but it was super awesome:

“It honked at me!!!” – Rachel (meaning it grunted at her)

The pigs are eating very well!

Right now they are eating about 1.5 pounds of this morning and night. And pretty much eating and growing more and more every day. YAY!

This is what their food looks like. They like to stand in it.

Like all kids, they eat, then nap;

Our little sausage links!

Kristen and her sister came over and fed them Oreos (we tried gummi’s, cake, marshmallows, white bread, and fruit with no luck), effectively ‘breaking’ the pigs. They now realize we are the bringers of food and attention and they dig it.

This piggy likes the filling. He’ll put his lips around the cookie, then expects you to drag it out of his mouth (notice the frosting lips).

His brother just liked the cookie part. It was perfect.

We want the pigs to be tame enough to like us, but not be pets. We want low stress, happy pigs when we move them and work with them, but not pigs that we get really attached to, it’s a fine line.

Just call her the pig whisperer.

After a week of living here we figured the pigs were ready to use their whole pen. The pen is about 3/4 of an acre, about half of which was scraped because the weeds were just too much to deal with for such little piggies. Mahina and I moved pig panels so they now have access to this whole area. Of course the first place they wanted to go was…

…into the weeds! Totally scared me! I was looking for foxtails in their ears and eyes, but they seemed to be ok!

It was the best day of their lives – so much rooting going on! I spent my morning picking pecans for them and hiding them in the dirt (it was better than therapy!), anyway the pigs think they have died and gone to heaven rooting up rocks and looking for pecans.

Pigs rooting and looking for nuts.

They will get another few weeks in this pen before we start making portable pens around oaks trees and pecan trees so they can graze and root during the days. We are waiting for them to gain a little more weight and for the weather to change a whisper more, so the nuts drop. I also need to borrow my Dad’s truck and horse trailer to get the panels, unless, you know, he wants to do that for me (hint). In addition to the pasture and nuts they will continue to get their pig grower feed.

Oh, this pork is going to be glorious.

4 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, Humor, photos, Pigs, Ranch life

Adult 4-H: PIGS

It was a big day. We got our pigs today. Plus one. The original plan for adult 4-H was to get 3 pigs. One for each of us. Then I had a few friends ask if they could just avoid all the work, have me raise the pig for them so they could just buy a pig when its ready to slaughter. Ok, so then, I planned on buying four pigs, one for me and one for lazy friends (KIDDING, you guys) and Mahina and Kristen’s pigs. I figured I might be able to make a few bucks to invest into buying some more pig panels or a, *cough* *cough* sow. But somehow by the time we came home today, we had five pigs!

Our piglets.

Mahina and Kristen met me bright and early, here on the Ranch. We borrowed my Mom’s truck, put a foam bed-liner and pine shavings in the back, opened the windows in the camper shell, and duct taped all the lighting wires up and off we went. After much searching the internets for heritage pig producers in Northern California we found Jamie at High Mountain Hogs. She is located out of Mad River, California, which is about a three and half hour (and a very curvy) drive from the Ranch.

Our truck ready, pigs, our piglet’s Mom, our piglets ready to come home.

My social media friend Amy Sipes is the person who first brought red wattles to my attention. She has a slaughterhouse in Kentucky and has taught me much about, well, meat and meat safety (thanks Amy!). Last year she kept posting these RED pork chops on her Facebook page. Like most of you, I am used to store pork, and while store pork is great, I missed having really wonderful, succulent, amazing homegrown pork. I haven’t raised our own pork since my 4-H days, which, let’s just say was at least over 10 years ago. I saw these beautiful pork chops Amy kept posting, and I found myself having major pork envy. If you know me in real life, once I get an idea in my head, I’m like a dog with a bone, good luck getting me to give it up (you’ll lose a finger!). My mission in life became getting red wattles, and today it happened.

Hog heaven! Guardian dogs and pig cats. I liked it there.

We got on the road bright and early. Of course, a Starbuck’s and gas stop was made and maayyybeeee a short stop at Lucero when we got to Corning.

This is hands down my favorite olive oil and vinegar place in the world. It’s so good. I make excuses to stop here, I can’t help it! Plus I had to get something for my Mom because we used her truck. I can fit 2 bags of shaving and 3 bags of hog chow in my Corolla, but I think 5 piglets and 3 girls would have been pushing it.

After that though, we made excellent time. The drive itself was a lot of fun, we saw a lot of agriculture and animals on our way there, including several does and fawns and a roadrunner!

High Mountain Hogs – started because Jamie missed having super good pork too.

We followed Jamie up to her hog barns and met all kinds of pigs! From red wattles to landraces to berkshires, we met sows, boars, piglets, guardian dogs and pig cats. It was glorious. I was in hog heaven (see what I did there?). Jamie was wonderfully patient as we pelted her with hundreds of hog related questions. We ended up buying red wattle/tamworth cross pigs. Since we are not breeding these pigs, we thought it was a great idea to use hybrid vigor to make some great pork. Red wattles are known for red meat and tamworths are know as the “bacon pig” – can you imagine a better melding of genetics? I can’t.

Hog farmer Kristen with Yum Yum.

Jamie caught our barrows (castrated male pig), and taught us the correct way to handle them. And then she gave us a runt! We couldn’t help it you guys, he was super cute! The runt she gave us was from a different breed of pig, a hereford. We’re pretty excited to have a taste test of pork when we are done – hereford vs. red wattle/tamworth vs berkshire (our friends raise them) vs store pork. Yeah, that’s going to be a bbq you want to be invited to.

Hog farmer Mahina with Pork Chop.

Unfortunately we had to leave High Mountain Hogs way before we wanted to because we were chasing daylight. We still had to get home, get the pigs situated, and fine tune our hog pen! The piglets were great passengers, despite my very best efforts of driving slowly and pulling over for rests, we had some car sickness from the little guys (and me!). When we got home it was a race to get the pigs in their new pen, set up the water system (Char was too small to use it), and clean the pig poo and puke out of my Mom’s new truck.

Pig house!

While we were gone, my Mom added sides to the pig’s house, which was a really good thing, because Char is soooooo little he could have slipped right out.

Me with Char and Hoot lurking. My Boss’s kids are naming my two pigs.

We safely unloaded our piglets into their new home. We had piglet chow and apples ready for them, they were pretty excited about that. Hoot dog supervised with intensity unmatched, we’re sure Hoot is ready to step up and be the piglet’s new guardian dog. It got dark and we had to let the pigs go to bed. I just did an 10:00 PM welfare check and the piglets had half their pen rooted up, but were happily asleep. I have my alarm set for daylight for another welfare check and Mahina and Kristen plan on being here tomorrow too. Adult 4-H has officially begun.

Hoot with her new friends.

19 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, Field Trip, food, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized