Monday, December 17, 2007

It must be December

More wild winter weather here in western Massachusetts. I can’t say I mind it – everything looks beautiful - like a picture postcard. The snow isn’t stopping. We thought something was up this November when Cookie and Ginger, two of our cats, grew incredibly fluffy, long coats. The Farmer and I talked about it, saying we must be in for a rough winter and so it is. Compared to 2007 when it was 60 degrees in late December, I will take this anyday.

Farming continues, no matter the weather. Animals need to be fed and cared for. But Friday was the day I have been dreading. It was the day the appointment was made for my three, now big, pigs. I have raised pigs for four years and know that with the arrival of each new set of piglets, they will then leave about five months later as much larger animals. They live very happy, if short lives rooting around in the earth and eating well. This year’s pigs even began as pasture raised pigs and grazed with the sheep for about a month until they began doing lots of damage to the pastures with their snouts.

The past month or so has been an adventure for them. They have been busting out of their confines and visiting the neighbors up and down the road. They have been exploring the apple orchard, grazing on fallen fruit. Luckily our neighbors are rather patient. Todd and Jess down then road call them the Visiting Ladies Auxillary – three pigs digging around their yard in the frozen earth not finding much. Alicia's pumpkins were mighty tasty.

But then winter hit. They haven't wanted to venture too far. This past week has been mightly dicey walking out on the ice with a large bucket of grain and a large pail of hot water, trying not to fall on my butt while hiking out to feed them. We had a foot of snow Thursday which was going to make moving the livestock trailer difficult to say the least. Luckily, some of our neighbors are also farmers and they came down with a plow and helped The Farmer load the pigs. It went smooth as silk and we got them to the slaughterhouse in New Hampshire and were back in time to pick Julia up from school.

I always feel very sad the first few days my pigs are gone. I'm so used to hearing them snorting and cavorting in their pen everytime I come out of the house. I will miss them and the daily task of talking to them each morning and feeding them. But my chickens are still here and I should be getting some eggs soon as the days become longer. Tonight Julia and I will pick up the pigs and they will feed us and several others for the year to come. In a few weeks the hams and the bacon will be done too.

If you are interested in learning more about raising pigs, here are a few good websites: Sugar Mountain Farm in Vermont, British author Hugh Fearnley-Whittenstall's River Cottage, and Jimmy Doherty's Essex Pig Company.


Anonymous said...

I love hearing about your life on the farm. I grew up in the country and I hope to get back to it someday. Tina-caliconurse

Anonymous said...

I clearly remember my uncles pigs. We loved each one dearly and we were very sad when they were brought to the slaughter, but we liked the ham and the bacon, too.
We understood and learned that some animals are raised to be food, and that humans have to take care that they have a good life before.
I really love reading you blog!
Greetings from Germany

Kathleen C. said...

Last night we had second helpings from the sausage, mixed greens and potato bake we made for dinner on Saturday.
Fresh sausage made from our friend's hog. Ground and seasoned by him and gifted to us (along with ribs and hams and loins).
She had a good enough life with plenty of food and a litter of piglets. And the end was quick and easy (he slaughters and butchers it himself).
Maybe it is harder if you are the one raising them from piglets?

Janet said...

It is so interesting to read about your life on the farm. I followed your link to Jimmy's Farm - am so pleased to see that his enterprise is alive and well. The TV series about his farming efforts was terrific.

Willow said...

it's good for children to know where their food comes from. Julia is fortunate to have these experiences.
I remember watching my uncle kill the chicken for our dinner. And my children's first experience with "Here's where dinner comes from" was the killing of a deer in our Papuan village.

Mia said...

Well, you know where your food comes from. And I am sure that the neighbors find the pigs just as fun to watch as you do.

knittingiris said...

Jealous of that foot of snow AND that fresh bacon-to-come! Mmmm.

Zanne said...

I'm laughing at the visual image of the pigs "bustin' out". Yeah, they're characters. I agree that people need to be aware of where their food is coming from. I'm always surprised that people have no idea how the pork chop got on the plate.

Anonymous said...

I purchased your book and had to purchase another for a friend because I enjoyed it so much. I can't wait to purchase some of your yarn. Your book will make the greyiest of days much brighter!

LaurieAnna's Vintage Home said...

Your blog is hubby and I are embarking upon the "farming life" in the upcoming year. We're planning to raise farm critters...but haven't defined them yet. *smile* Pigs sound like a hoot....or should I say...a snoot!

Merry Christmas!