Pig Pig

My husband's family has an old, bald, wrinkly, crippled chihuahua named Jasmine. She's like, 14 years old now. Growing up, my husband would torment her and his other dogs all the time. One day, he discovered that if you pat her on the head while saying "Pig pig", she growled quite a bit. We don't know why "duck-duck", "elephant-elephant", and "velociraptor-velociraptor" weren't as offensive. He stuck with the swine themed insult. Many years down the road, I got my first teaching job in a little town in Texas. By little, I mean like... 1800 people. I'm not from Houston or anything, but my hometown isn't tiny. It took a LOT of adjusting to get used to small town life. Oh, we're shearing a sheep fifteen feet from marching rehearsal? Okay. Oh, we're going to see 3-hour-old calves during conference period? Alright. Instead of getting animal control to handle the snake outside of the band hall, we just call the science teacher? Mmmkay. I am NOT a country girl. I am like, the exact opposite. So when I came home and told my husband that our Ag teacher and my fellow band director had talked me into buying a piglet, raising it, and butchering it, he wasn't really buying it. Well, he was buying it in the fact that I used money to buy the pig, and the feed, and more feed, and more feed. Flash forward to mid-fall. I'm watching our ag teacher (Ag=agriculture by the way) unload four piglets into this shack-thing full of poopy hay. I was hoping for piglets...

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But instead, we got something more like these. There were four total split between a few people, and I officially became the owner of one-half of one of the pigs. I named him Pig-Pig. Image

This is everything I learned over many months of raising pigs, as told by a City Girl.

These are called Duroc pigs. They're reddish brown and have wiry hair/fur. Their ears all had notches along the edges which tell you what liter they were from a particular momma pig, along with the birth order. Pig guys have basically a triangle hole punch that they cut the notches with, and the position on the ear refers to a certain number. By the way, a momma pig is a sow, and a female pig who hasn't had a liter yet is called a gilt. When pigs travel from Iowa to Texas and sit in a trailer for a week, they tend to get sick. If you pour Pepto Bismol on their feed, it helps them not have such runny poop. When pigs are sick and are extra poopy, do not stand behind them when the cough, or be prepared to explain to your last period class of 5th graders why you're wearing left over XL band shirts because there is pig poop on your other clothes.

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Pig feed comes in different levels of protein that helps them bulk up for butchering. The higher the protein content, the more expensive, but the fatter the pig. Also, the feed store gives out free apples sometimes, and they're really friendly.

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They say pigs are really smart. No. No they're not. If their feed gets all caked together, they'll rip the feeder off the wall of their pen and STAND on it, bending it and putting it so they can't get any food at all. If you open a pen door for them to go in, they won't. If you chase them around the exercise pen, they'll run around in circles and sometimes smash into your feet. Three hundred pounds of pig doesn't feel good on your foot. A woman of my average-ish size and short stature can put all of my force into pushing a pig and the pig will always win. Image

The ultimate summation of my knowledge of pigs is this: Poop. Poop everywhere. But I did it. I helped raise four piggies. I didn't know anything when I started, and I could pretty much get those boys in and out of their pens, clean the pens, fill the feeders and water, and get the boys back in on my own by the time it was done. They were such a pain in the butt though, that when their kill date came, I wasn't sad at all. Pigs can be cut into all sorts of "cuts" of meat. The spine part is the backstrap, which becomes pork loin and pork chops. The shoulders are shoulder roasts, the ribs are ribs and bacon, the head and jaw are for tamales, the butt is ham, and everything else turns in to sausage. Yummy, yummy sausage. When it was all said and done, I "owned" half of one pig and ended up with right at 100 lbs of meat. Was it worth it? Uh... yes and no. It was an awful lot of work. I didn't save any money on buying pork. But it was worth it for the experience. I did something completely out of my comfort zone and lived to tell the tale. That being said, having your own meat butchered the way you want allows for some really tasty meat. I promise, the sausage and bacon from Pig-Pig is the best I've ever had. Image

By the way, this is only ONE FOURTH of one pig.