We are down to one hog left on the homestead. This past Saturday, we rounded up the remaining females (with a BIG help from our local cowboy buddy & his dog up the way at Los Solano Ranch) and they were sent to the butcher. Even writing that last sentence sounds harsh to me... It is important to keep in mind that this is the role they were supposed to play. This was their job. This was what we raised them for, and they still lived a far better life than almost any other pork pig out there.
We have to wait about a month for our last pig (the male) to be ready to go, as he is still "in-tact" and he needs time to cool his hormones now that the females are gone. If we don't wait it out, the male hormones can leave a bad scent on the pork. We may consider selling the boar to become a stud over the next few weeks, as he is a handsome fella, but it would have to be at the right price to help pay off what we put into raising him.
Originally we had a lot of intentions to breed the boar for piglets, but plans change.
Pigs have been a great experience and challenge for us. In the future, we may raise them again (probably only 2 at a time however) because we are incredibly proud of the product we grew. Our homemade breakfast sausage, ribs, bacon, ham, chops, and more are one of our crowning achievements in homesteading yet. That being said, growing pork is an expensive hobby. Pigs eat a lot of feed, even when supplemented with scraps. It is most certainly not a cost effective livestock, but if your goal is quality, then it is a worthy endeavor. By ridding the homestead of the pigs, we will substantially increase our weekly savings. We'll also have a freezer full of pork cuts, which means less I have to spend at the grocery store for the time being. For that, I am incredibly grateful.
Pigs have also proven to be a bit difficult to manage.... all of the birds have been pretty docile and simple. The pigs are mischievous, stubborn, skittish, and actually caused more anxiety than I personally would have liked. I don't regret opting to commit to them, as it has taught us a lot about hooved livestock, and I do believe a lot of that knowledge will help us when it comes to taking on new challenges, and trying other things on the homestead in the future.
For now, it will be a welcome break so we can focus on garden expansion, family camping trips, new livestock, and the possibility of growth and spread for our homestead.
Photo: Kate Michaud Photography, Paris, ME