Bringing Home the Bacon
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
When I was younger my family raised pigs as 4-H and FFA projects. Most of my Summer memories have a pig in them, and I am here to tell you that they are one of the coolest animals on the farm.
Since moving to our new place we have been wanting to get pigs, both to breed, and to raise out for meat. We found a wonderful breeder of Large Black hogs in PA and had plans to go pick up a breeding pair and a feeder pig in August. God had other plans.
Last Thursday our neighbor got a couple of female potbelly pigs for a great price. We went over to see them, and of course they were adorable as could be, but I had never considered EATING a potbelly pig; I have only ever thought of them as a pet animal. However, when he reached out the next day and said that there was a free male from the same litter, Sharif and I decided that we couldn't really pass that up.
I did some research on the breed and found some neat facts. Potbellies can tend to get really fat when fed commercial feed, but when they are allowed to graze as their primary source of feed, with the addition of garden scraps, they will stay lean. They are a smaller breed of pig so they take up far less space than your larger hogs, and they are wonderful for tilling up and turning over soil (as nearly all pigs are). I wanted to till up a large portion of our front yard for a wildflower garden, but had put that away for another year, as our tiller is a bit of a nightmare, but when we built his pen, we made it small and mobile so that he could do the tilling for me. We just have to move him every two days, and we have a tiller that grows food as it works.
Jethro, as we named him, will be here until around December. He will till and fertilize our soil, eat our kitchen scraps, and enjoy all the love and scratches that he can possibly stomach. Then he will allow us to learn how to butcher a hog. He will provide our family with quality meat and fat that will get us through the next year. His lard will allow for me to make soap along with the milk we will get from the goats when they kid. He is a vital part of the ecosystem of our farm, and aside from the minimal cost of butcher paper, and tape, he is free food.
We will still go pick up a breeding pair of Large Black hogs in August and they will provide is with meat for the years moving forward. But Jethro will always hold a special place in the memories of our farm. He is our first pig. The one that I will remember most fondly, not just because he fell into our laps, but because he brought pigs back into my life. And boy have I missed having them around.
This week I want to challenge y'all to take an opportunity that seems uncomfortable. If we are always waiting for the "right time" we are missing chances to improve our circumstances. It isn't always easy to do, and sometimes it
requires building a pig pen in an afternoon with just your kids, but its worth it. It is OK to be uncomfortable, in fact, its a good thing in many situations. It is what helps us to grow and expand! I would love to hear what leap of faith you take this week, and hope that it brings you joy and good fortune.
Update: Jethro got a girlfriend, Bernadette. We will now be breeding Potbelly pigs along with Large Blacks so that we can serve a larger variety of customer needs. Jethro will still be butchered in the fall and we will replace him with another boar next spring.