Monday, April 1, 2013

My Ultimate Omnivore Dilemma

"If you want government food, go to the supermarket and buy government food. But for those who want to have a relationship with their food, and the accountability that inherently comes with voluntarily and informatively opting out of the supermarket to go ask around, smell around, sniff around, look around and opt out of the government food system, they ought to have that right."

-Joel Salatin

I can say with certainty that I have a relationship with my food.

It began when I got honeybees. It developed more when I got my dairy cow Lucy.

When we started raising pasture chickens it became more "real." I am more respectful of my chicken when I pull it from the freezer to cook. We raised the chicken, we killed the chicken, we processed the chicken, and now we understand the food relationship. We understand the accountability. We respect the cycle of life. My children know from where their food comes.

Then last week we had to kill and process our two pigs. The farmer/processor/friend called and told us he was on his way to get them. It was a cold and early morning, a "perfect day" for pig slaughter, according to Farmer Joe.

                         ***35 pounds of pork fat waiting to be rendered into lard.***

I was not ready. It was the ultimate omnivore's dilemma. I am not willing to give up my smoked bacon or pork tenderloin and yet I cannot support the horrid and broken commercial system that supplies the local grocery store. I gave that up when I bought my "pigerators." I made a solemn promise to them that I would raise them in their natural environment, allowing them to be pigs. I promised that they would be treated humanely and that they would be "put down" in a humane manner.

It was all handled as I promised. It was difficult to watch at times, but it could not have gone any better. I have replayed it all in my head many, many times. It was the perfect cycle of farm life.

It was a difficult part of farm life. It was the part that makes many "want to be" farmers take a second look at their future farm goals. People often say "That's the part of farming I cannot handle."

                          ***Fletcher helping me in the kitchen as I pack and sort the pork***

Two days later we came home with 375 pounds of pork. I had to clean out my freezer and get it all organized. I have never seen so much pork in my life. We took the hams and bacon to a local artisan butcher so they could be smoked and cured. I am excited too because Link 41 doesn't use those nasty nitrates.

It would be easier to buy my bacon at a grocery store, all wrapped up with no clue as to the life cycle of the sacrificed pig or it's demise. I am , however, a better farmer for not seeking that route, for supporting sustainable farming and the humane, healthy life cycle of my pigs.

I feel like a big hurdle was cleared and my family will eat healthier as a result.

Two years ago I would have never imagined that we would be to this point in farming, to be raising a large amount of our food. I hope that by sharing my journey to sustainable family farming it will encourage others and offer encouragement. This is not always the easiest of jobs but, just as in having a large family...the rewards are tremendous!

We have cooked some sausage and I have to say that it is very good. The meat all looks fantastic and I owe that fact to the natural foods the pigs consumed while tilling my garden plus the large quantities of raw milk and whey the had daily. Later this week I plan to cook a tenderloin.

Have a great week and support your local farmers!


  1. Yum, fresh pork. I have been debating getting pigs but I'm a little nervous about it for some reason. I'm not worried about sending them off for butchering- more about the day to day interaction with them.

  2. Samantha, could you possibly tell me who your butcher is? This is the way I want my 2 pigs to go. I just dread having to take them to the butcher in Flintstone and leave them there on the cold concrete floor with all those strange huge animals overnight. I would love to find either a mobile butcher or someone who will come here to do the job. I talked to the guy at Link 41 yesterday at the market and told him I wanted them to do my sausage and smoke the bacon and hams too. I also have my 2 bucks I want to be made into sausage and want them to do that too. But if possible, please email me Farmer Joe's #.

    And I am counting down the days til the bee workshop! I think I'll be getting my hive in the next few days. I talked to Eddie yesterday too. This is all so exciting! Springtime. I love it.


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