Monday, December 29, 2014

Back to the future

Way back in 2006 a local celebrity chef wrote a blog about raising four pigs and then slaughtering them and serving them; you'll find Ms. Murphy's blog in its entirety here

She raises 4 pigs over the course of a few months to a slaughter weight of around 100lbs.  Now for me, that's a light slaughter weight -- we sell pigs for consumption at that weight, but we call those BBQ pigs and they're usually spit-roasted whole.
A more traditional use of a light pig

Ms. Murphy procured her piglets through whistling train farm, who seem to have gotten out of the pig business for the most part since this article.   They apparently have a single sow that they breed for piglets at this point, but somewhere between 2006 and here they had 6 sows at a high-water mark.
What's interesting about this to me is that I started farming in earnest in 2007, and the market for piglets has been great every year since then.  So it's not that they couldn't sell all the piglets they produce, it appears that  Whistling train  focused on vegetable and egg production as their primary products.

In the second-to-the-last entry of Tamara's blog she talks about the slaughter day, and I'm left with the impression that she didn't witness the slaughter of her pigs, choosing to spend the kill time in the office - here's the quote:

"Shelley, Mike and I went into the office for the business part of the day. They said it would be fine if we went into where they were working.  After all, they were our pigs.  We were in the slaughter house aproximately 15 minutes after we arrived, and the pigs were already being put through a machine to clean and remove the bristle "

Which I am a little dissapointed at.  In her last entry she talks about her emotional attachment to the pigs as she breaks them down, and says something about having taking pictures, and honestly this is the real crux of pig farming for me, personally; I'm sorry that she didn't follow it through.

In my own farming I choose to shoot and stick the pigs that we sell whole to customers to make sure that the pigs have the respect due to them, and that it be as quick and painless as possible.  It's not a chore I relish; but it's part-and-parcel of raising animals for food.   Yes, I can delegate that, and I do for those folks who want to go the cut-and-wrap route with a whole or half pig, but for the small, the old, and the traditional, we take care of this right here.

For the same reason I don't sell my old boars at auction -- the herd sires that are past their prime are treated with all due respect, and given a quick clean end right here where they lived.  It's unfortunate, but when you dispose of animals at auction they can meet their end in many different ways.  I'll forego the profit to ensure that all of mine end respectfully.

Tamara Murphy is sort-of a neighbor mine, too.  A local farm was purchased by a non-profit group, and the acreage was converted into wetlands and other projects.  Tamara coordinates/hosts an annual BBQ as a fundraiser, which is very popular but the farm itself seems to be withering on the vine; I just don't see much from them recently, other than the BBQ fundraiser.

It'd be interesting to see what she's doing 8 years later -- is she still raising her own, or sourcing her meats from local resources?   There's no clue on her latest menu. - yes, it says that they source ingredients from local growers and artisan producers,  but how about you support the farmers in a more concrete way by mentioning the source?    I'm sure your customers would like that, too Tamara.
And if you're looking for local pigs, I'd be happy to set you up.  Give me a call sometime.

No comments: