Thursday, December 8, 2011
I asked what he meant by "nicest," and he said that they were very nice pigs personality-wise, but he was talking about the meat. He said the meat has a nice red color to it and that the fat had a lovely, tender texture and made wonderful sausage. "I don't know what you did to them," he added, "but that is some beautiful pork." I told him a lot of credit belongs to Herb who was out in the yard picking up acorns for their last three weeks after I read that the best ham in the world comes from Spain where they finish the hogs on acorns. For the rest, we just kept them on pasture and supplemented with laying crumble for chickens because that was the only pork-free feed we could find.
Jeff asked what kind of pigs they were, and when I told him Berkshire crosses, he said that explains the nice red color. He wanted Jim's contact information, saying he might get a couple of pigs for himself.
Driving home with 243.5 pounds of pork, I felt mixed emotions. I was sad for 4 and 8. I still look out the back door and miss their ear-perky trot coming to see who's there. At the same time, I felt content on their behalf, that they had fulfilled so well their created purpose and that they had so obviously enjoyed their lives. I felt thankful to God that a search for a used hay feeder on Craigslist had led me to such an excellent pig breeder who just happened to have a couple of gilts left. That wasn't serendipity--that was a gift from God. And finally I felt a deep sense of satisfaction that Herb and I, complete novices when it comes to pigs, had managed to care for 4 and 8 for six months in such a way that we turned out the best pork that our butcher has ever seen.
When I got home, I put 65 pounds of fresh bacon and ham in the fridge, ready to begin curing, along with 9 pounds of fat scraps to render into lard. I hauled the grandkids' wagon full of frozen meat out to the freezer in the hay barn where I stowed away 70 pounds of sausage; 80 pounds of ribs, chops and roasts; and 20 pounds of hocks and soup bones.
And I smiled sadly to myself at the thought that the piggies had gone home to hog heaven. How did I know they were in heaven, besides the fact that they were such good pigs? Well, the place they had gone was freezing cold--definitely not hot!