Bringing Home the Bacon

Our first pig was ready for butchering. We'd been working on the bacon project since August, so we were very happy to finally be able to see the return on our investment and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

In the time we had the pigs, they enjoyed Blue Seal feed, cracked corn, and kitchen scraps that predominantly included spare or leftover produce, and at times, homemade desserts! They also had a substantial pen to roam around in, built for at least twice the number of pigs that were living there. They had many visitors, and feathered companions, and a hog hut that keep them out of the elements. All in all, a healthy, content life.

We have spent months serving them, and they now will serve us, our family, and friends.

We are incredibly grateful to those who helped us with processing the pig - there were many involved from start to finish as we opted to complete the process majoritively ourselves... This came with a lot of tension between the Homestead Husband and I. We went back and forth for weeks about the how-tos, the what ifs, and the heart part. We finally were able to come to an agreement on the plan once the correct equipment was provided, in an off-site location, with the assistance and knowledge from more experienced butchers and the Homestead Husband's knowledge of sterile technique. It was only then that I was willing to allow the him to run the show instead of sending it to a local facility to do the dirty work.

The Homestead Husband felt passionately about being involved in the process - here's his take:

"It was very satisfying. It was therapeutic in a sense. To say something is so raw, and create usable meat out of it was a great feeling. It's a perfect blend of science and art. Science in a sense that you have to know anatomy and muscle and bone structure, and art in the sense of being able to apply that to two different shaped animals [humans as an RN/livestock] because no two animals are the same.

It was nerve-wracking doing it for the first time. I was really concerned about wasting meat or part of the animal. But, once we realized that there was very little to waste it was relieving.

After getting the retail cuts [like what you find at the grocery store] out of the primal cuts [first cuts], I enjoyed stepping back and looking at the spread of different cuts of pork. And thinking about how we would enjoy those pieces and who we would enjoy them with, and why we would be enjoying them."

This first pig will serve our family. We have two more that are at weight, and for those we have opted to hire help for the processing so we can spare more time for togetherness with our family. There are seasons for everything and right now, we need to value more time together.

The first pig has provided us with ribs, hams, tenderloins, sausage and lard/tallow that will be used for cooking, and candle-making (carcinogen-free!).

It feels good to know our food, and we are proud of our efforts. The first meal we had from our pig was wonderful - satisfying, humbling, and flavorful. We are looking forward to sharing it, and trying new things. It feels good to have this under our belts (both metaphorically and physically).

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