Tag Archives: pig

Bacon and Barbecue, part 1

A few weeks ago, the time came to process one of the pigs. Being raised on a hillside with part pasture and woods, the pigs consumed little feed with all the good stuff offered up to them by the field and woods. They are also given vegetable and dairy scraps from the kitchen. We like to offer them a little feed so we can scratch their backs while they eat to keep them tame and manageable. They were started off that way when they were piglets and looked forward to the back scratching. Our goal weight to process was 250 pounds.

smoked pork

The university, where I work, has a small public meat processing facility so that is where I had the meat processed. There are quite a few processors around us so I bought a roll of breakfast sausage from four different ones so Boone and I could do a taste test. The cuts of meat (chop, ribs, etc.) are going to taste the same no matter who cuts it up but everyone has a different sausage recipe. I could have made my own as there are plenty of recipes online but never having done it before I did not want to ruin many pounds of meat to get it right. Anyway, my university’s sausage was the best tasting overall.

We wanted the whole process to be low stress for both us and the pig so we put the trailer in the pig pasture a few weeks before the processing date. That way the pig would be used to the trailer and would hopefully load easily. Boone started putting the feed in the trailer and within a few days the pigs were hopping in and out easily. The actual loading went as we hoped, quickly with minimal excitement and stress.

Stock Trailer
The cost of processing was $141.00. We received 147 pounds of boneless chops, ribs, ham hocks, tenderloins, sausage, leaf fat for lard, a whole shoulder, pork belly, jowls, steaks and other various cuts. I had talked with the manager ahead of time to discuss the cuts I wanted. When I picked up the meat all was vacuum sealed and already frozen.

I cure and smoke our own bacon plus I had plans to smoke a shoulder to make barbecue, southeast NC style, so we put the pork bellies, jowls and shoulder in the extra fridge out in the garage to thaw. We picked this fridge up off of Craigslist for $50 and it has really come in handy.

Miss Piggy

If you want to grow your own food but don’t have a lot of acreage you might be able to do more than you think. Our sheep, cattle, and chickens live over on Maplewood Hill Farm, our 15 acre farm down the street from the house. The lot that the house and yard sit on is less than an acre. There is a large garden, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, raspberries, sour cherry tree, sweet cherry tree, peach trees, plum trees, garden shed, kennel and a chicken house that doubles as an animal nursery. You can pack quite a bit into a yard! Currently residing in the chicken house is Miss Piggy.


Miss Piggy came to us as a little runt piglet that was getting too roughed up by her siblings so she needed a friendlier place to call home. She came to us in January and lived the winter in the chicken house buried under piles of hay. She came out long enough to eat, get back scratches from us and stroll outside for a few minutes if it was warm enough. Her company was an orphaned calf who she loved but the feeling was not mutual.

The intent was for her to go into the freezer but with the price of pork so high these days, quite a few of our friends let us know that they would buy the piglets if we had her bred. It took a village, but she was finally loaded and sent off to visit the boar of our dreams. She rendezvoused with him for few days and came back obviously traumatized from being with her own kind.


Loading her back up for the ride home went much smoother than the initial load. The farmer that owned the boar that she visited said the other pigs were pretty rough with her and he had to feed her off by herself because they wouldn’t let her eat. Poor girl, she’s been handled gently here and has only seen cows and Keb, the Border Collie. When we got her back home, she got a nice cool shower and a clean house to go to. It was just like when we got her; she stayed in the house and only came out to eat. It took a couple of weeks but she is back to her own sweet self and hopefully she’ll produce lots of piglets around Thanksgiving.