pigs, pretty much the best gift on this planet


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Last tuesday was the pigs’ harvest. The following pictures may be too graphic for some, but this is what has happened out here and I want to share what we experienced. It was an amazing day.

reviewing our books before the harvester arrived


I can’t imagine how it could have been better. We hired a professional slaughterer, who came to their paddock, was gentle and kind with them, and with the pull of a trigger, immediately they were gone, with a single bullet to the brain. There were four couples present for this amazing experience, each of us was getting a half of one of the pigs. Some of us cried, as it is not simple to watch beings leave this planet, no matter how you may view meat…there are so many questions about meat and animals, and life and eating, spirituality and loving a beings’ existence. We treasure our own so much. But these animals had been raised for this day, and for all the days/weeks/months of sustinence and gustatorial pleasure their meat will provide us. The harvester said they were obviously very well cared for and fed, and weighed around 350 lbs each!

caul fat


blood sausage on toast, my first pork taste in 14 years, andrew made spanish style morcilla....amazingly rich and delicious


the six of us who witnessed the harvest, and spent 4 hours gleaning all we could from the hides and organs.


It was a day we’ll never forget. Andrew and I had spent a good part of the previous day hanging out with the pigs, absorbing all their wonderfulness, giving them love and scratches, contemplating how their harvest would go, feeling a bit nervous to know they’d be gone tomorrow. But the thing is—–these pigs died instantly, and they died where they were comfortable. No trucks hauling them somewhere foreign and scary. They were alive, then they were dead. 

Today we all got to pick up our halves today from the locker, after being deep chilled for a number of days. Andrew built a great hog processing table, which we moved into our sunroom since it was raining. We studied our diagrams all morning, for how to properly butcher a half a hog. When our half of Roxy was there, on the table, it was quite something. She lived such a good, loved life, and by the amount of fat, she obviously ate very well. We began by sectioning off the back leg- the ham. Then we sectioned off the front leg- the boston butt and picnic ham and hock. The loin and belly sections are tricky to figure out, but suddenly we had shapes we could recognize from the books and we proceeded to cut off some of the hugest pork chops I have ever seen, divy out roasting sections and decide what was going to be brined and what would be dry cured. We have 100 lbs of pork now…. in the freezer, in the brining tubs and the belly sections are being dry cured with salt/sugar/pepper. Such gratitude for those lovely, amazing pigs. They are the dearests to hang out with during their time with us, they help us till up turf out here for gardeing, and their meat is incredible. INCREDIBLE. Not to mention the fat we rendered into lard from scraping the hides and heads, and the resulting cracklings (yummmmm) and the head cheese, and the paprikash simmering on the stove right now with Roxy’s heart and some of her liver. Such a gift, pigs will forever be part of LTD Farm. We have 3 little piglets coming November 1st to raise for late spring harvest, let us know if you want to be a part of this experience .

Comments ( 4 )

  1. Richelle

    Hola, I've been reading your blog for a while now, but haven't posted any comments up till now. We've been raising Iberian 'pata negra' pigs on our homestead in Andalucia for a couple of years now and harvest them (what a beautiful word to use by the way - at least for a farmer it is!) exactly the way you have.The only difference is that we do it all ourselves. Our pigs tend to stand up on their hindlegs and hang over the stabledoors (heavy steel, luckily) to be able to see out and communicate with us when they hear us approaching the stables. We teach them to accept stale bread from us when they are in this position and when the time comes to harvest them, my hustband simply feeds them a chunk of bread with his left hand, and puts the pistol on their forehead with his right hand. And voila, happy meat from a stressless pig. We also dehide them on the spot as we have no use for the skin, we don't salt the entire hams like some of our neighbours do, for instance. And we don't use the blood, as we don't very much care for the taste of morcilla. We usually harvest sometime in december or january, at the end of the day when the temperatures have dropped enough to safely process all the meat. We let the pig hang for the night and the next morning we start processing the meat. And of course, living in Spain, a large part of the meat will be destined for salchichon and chorizo! Apart from the usual cuts and sausages, we try to find a new recipe every year to try out. I'm a baker and I use up all the rendered lard in bread recipes during the year, so hardly anything goes to waste here. We have a 8 yr old son, and he alway refers to the meat as meat from Romeo, or Jumping Piglet , or Miss Piglet or whatever they were called when they were being raised here. If you have the space to keep a sow for a year more, I would ask you to seriously consider having her bred or inseminated and have a litter of piglets. They are just so incredibly funny and cute! And no work at all, you just have to make sure they can't escape while they are still small. We had one litter last year and didn't do anything of the recommend stuff. No teeth cutting, no neutralizing, nothing. Just raise them without stress and lots of mud baths and you will raise happy meat with an incredible taste. And from a business point of view, more economical of course. I will continue following all your adventures through the blog. Lots of succes.

  2. admin

    Richelle- so great to hear your story, and thank you for sharing this! I am glad to know who is reading is our adventures as well. How do you prepare your skinned hams? A salt brine? or do you use them fresh? Such a new glorious part of the farm experience to be sure. That first pork chop tasted mighty fine, thank you to the pigs.

  3. Richelle

    I don't prepare the skinned hams as hams. I cut up the meat in great chunks to vacuum seal and freeze and all smaller cuts end up in the meat grinder to turn into chorizo or salchichon. The meat that ends up in my freezer is almost all boneless. I just can't afford the space in my freezer to keep the bones on. I have one chest freezer and two smaller freezers with drawers but with all the stuff coming from my veggie plot as well, never enough space! So part of the meat that comes from the ribs, your porck-chops, I cure in pound size chunks in a cure of both salt and sugar. And another part is cut up into smaller pieces and seasoned with an Andalusian spice blend for Pinchitos, and than vacuum sealed and frozen. The meat from between the ribs will go into sausages. From the better quality meat I make hamburgers, lots of small meatballs for soup (cooked and then frozen), larger meatballs (also cooked and frozen) and I freeze mealsize portions of already seasoned ground meat because that's what we use at least once every week. I don't have a place to cold smoke bacon, so part of the belly bacon is turned into panceta, part is put in a brine, then smoked hot for 20 minutes and then cooked slowly in the oven at a very low temperature. Another part is put into a very Dutch kind of mixture of onion, mustard, soy sauce and smoked paprika powder. After four days of keeping it in the fridge, massaging every 12 hours, I cook it in the oven and once cooled, it's frozen in snacksize portions. Below 2 links to videos from the guardian site. I don't know if you've seen them, but I think they are marvellous. From the second one, I copied the recipe to make a sausage with the liver, heart and part of the lungs (with orangepeel and fennel) and it was a huge hit. I made some thin sausages and hung them to cure and I made some thick ones for the freezer. Both lovely! The third link is to the recipe for salt/sugar curing. If you need help with the translation, just let me know! The fourth is to a recipe for Pinchos Morunos (or Pinchitos) - another way to enjoy jamon! http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/video/2010/feb/09/butcher-pig-italian-sausage-salami http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/video/2010/feb/02/butcher-pig-pork-italian http://garbancita.blogspot.com/2008/12/lomo-curado-especiado.html http://www.spanish-fiestas.com/recipes/pinchos-morunos.htm Hope you like it. I'm off to cook and can some more tomatoes, the last buckets of this summer, all that's left are some green ones still on the vines.

  4. admin

    just have to say, these links are incredible, thank you for sharing!!!!

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