found a stout and sturdy home on our farm this week.
This is our third year raising a small batch of pigs for meat for our family and to sell. Given the rolling nature of most of our pastures, and the shrubby (weedy) growth that most of them have, we can’t raise grazing animals such as cows and lambs very well. Goats have fit in well with what our land has to offer, gobbling up blackberry brambles and thistle and Queen Anne’s lace flowers like mad. And we really love their temperaments–so calm, inquisitive, and friendly. Pigs have proven to be the other good fit. They graze well on what grass our pastures have, root around and aerate our compact fields, and end up tasting beautiful after gaining weight more from all the acorns our old white oaks leave behind each year than corn from the feed store. We don’t all love the personalities of all the pigs that we have raised; but some the kids have ridden and had fun playing with, and those that scared me each time I had to deal with them, and were pushy to the point of stealing one of my shoes, at least provide stories to laugh about now.
This year’s pigs, though, are from a special place–our friend Stacey’s farm, Sky Ranch. They are so much stronger than little pigs we have gotten from other places, and she loves those pigs so much, we are expecting nothing but sweetness from them. So far, the boy (the pink one) is a little bit shy, but the two girls are up for my little girl’s behind the ear scratches. We have never named the pigs before, mostly because they are often indistinguishable in appearance (all pink or all black). This year, though, we have just re-read Charlotte’s Web, so we had to have a Wilbur (the only boy and only pink one). And although my suggestion of Thing 1 and Thing 2 were absolutely opposed by Acacia for the two girls, we are hoping for something not too sweet and cuddly to be decided upon.
We have come a long way from the days when we were vegetarians, both the farmer and I from our high school years until right around the time we bought the farm. The reasons for choosing that dietary lifestyle were many fold and certainly changed throughout the years. By the time we moved to Oregon, neither of us were vegetarian because we inherently felt that eating animals was cruel or inhumane or because we thought it was unhealthy. We did think these things about all the meat we had ever been familiar with before imagining our farm life, but had realized that animals raised in good and loving conditions could be a healthy addition to our meals.
It seems hard to deny, if you take even a cursory look into it, that there are hoards of problems with meat raised in feedlots or in other confinement operations. Even with all the new labeling on meat and egg and dairy products in the stores, all aimed to appease a consumer beginning to be savvy about what is really going on behind the scenes of food production, there doesn’t seem like a safe way to eat these products, for our family at least, without raising them ourselves or knowing by name (and visiting if we can) the folks who raised it. These products taste better than any animal products we have ever eaten, and feel full of life giving nourishment, much like our vegetables do. And we know they were treated well.
So, we are happy to have room for these three little pigs on our farm. We are glad for the joy they bring us while we watch them root and run around the fields. Happy to have their help rehabilitating our depleted and misused soils. And really, really pleased to eat them when the time comes.