Pork Day

IMG_20150427_073152643Well, our pigs are now pork. On April 27 we took the day off of work and with the help of some friends we killed and butchered our two pigs. It was a sad and difficult task to have to kill them, this was something neither of us had ever done before, but after a few tears we all got through it.

It was a cool sunny day and we worked in the open air in our backyard. It ended up being a fun time and it was great to have many hands to help out.IMG_20150427_095346588_HDR

It took just over three hours from start to finish to break down both pigs and get all of the meat in coolers. We chilled them in eight coolers for three full days. The meat looks great and is super tender.

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Now we are still steadily breaking these girls down, vacuum sealing, and doing inventory. After freshening the ice daily we are down to two coolers with two giant hams and belly to go. This has been the hardest part of the task. We were prepared for the long task of breaking both girls down but we’ve been doing it in the evenings after work and it has been a big job.

We quickly used up all of our freezer space and had to get another chest freezer, but it was well worth it, and I think we will get great use from this new freezer. IMG_20150506_074148939It tripled our freezer space. We also traded some eggs and pork for a smoker which will come in handy when time to make bacon and other tasty treats. We used it this weekend on some ribs and shoulders and it was delicious!

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Once we complete our inventory we will do an overall cost analysis, but we are looking great so far on our return. We’ve processed 200 pounds so far and are at a high estimate right now of $2 a pound for fresh, local, backyard pork.

It is very quiet in the yard now and we do miss the pigs and their playful natures, but we think we will be ready to try this again in another year. We will be able to work through what we have over this year and continue bartering for other products and goodies made by friends. It will be a great year!

Happy homesteading!

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Pig Decisions

It’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks on the homestead. We’ve had a birthday, both families in town for a visit, lots of outdoor fun taking kayaking and fishing trips, and of course lots of work in the garden and with the animals. We have eagerly planted all of our Spring and Summer veggies. We may have jumped the gun on Summer crops, but I have a feeling we will have tons of food like last year and a wider variety.

11117238_10152792776193994_7129713777641164806_nSince we had a visit from a couple of very helpful family members it was decided it was time to harvest a duck. We processed two. For our first duck processing day I think we did a great job. It was about two hours to do both.

We enjoyed one with a taco dinner. The duck was quartered and seared crispy then braised and it was delicious! We will probably sear off the breasts of the other and1462987_346272128904159_2218199822882081439_n enjoy those with crispy skin. The last duck we got from the farmer’s market we rendered down all of the fat and it supplied us in duck fat for nearly a year. We have the tiniest amount left and I can’t wait to have my stores replenished. We love using duck fat in the kitchen; it’s good with everything!

10269466_10152618892498994_8339796715640002491_n (2)Now we are wondering what are we going to do with these pigs? They are seven months old this week. Happy Birthday dear girls! Last week we did a preliminary weigh in using string to measure them and a simple equation we found online. We were surprised to discover they are weighing in at about 200 and 220 pounds.11152694_346270792237626_6777028383505960025_n

After a lot of discussion over how to process these girls, we have decided to do it at home with the help of an experienced friend. We debated frequently over sending them off to a local processor, but we think the cost involved with that is not worth it. The point for us of raising the pigs was to humanely and frugally get our own food from our own backyard. We have heard a lot of opinions on the cost of sending them off for processing and it seems that would really take away from our original goal.

IMG_20141115_111420We are planning on having a friend who is an avid hunter and homesteader, and who has processed many many hogs on his own, to come and help us in about two weeks time. They have grown so much since we first brought them home nearly six months ago. No doubt this will be a difficult task. It will be a sad day to lose these sweet girls, but we look at it as one hard day after a happy life.

Happy homesteading!