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Pig Butchering, Fall 2009

11.24.09
A long awaited day – ‘PIG DAY’ – has come and gone. A couple friends and I had ordered 3 pigs from Irvings Farm Fresh – a local Berkshire pork producer. They’d raised the hogs a few weeks longer than normal as per our request to size up the pigs, and fatten them up a bit – as is evidenced by the mostly vertical white stripe of back fat cutting the photo above roughly in half. It was an ass-kicking long day of work, but wrapped up with a dinner of pork shoulder roast tossed in early in the day with sage, garlic, salt, and pepper – washed down with this fall’s apple wine that’s just reaching a nice dose of american oak. Despite being ridiculously tired, it was a very blissful moment of payola.

Economics
All-in, our pigs were $325. We got roughly 140+ pounds of cut meat per pig. That works out to $2.34/lb. However. We also harvested 7.7kg of fat – mostly leaf lard, and were lucky enough to be handed a large bag of offal the farmer hooked us up with. We saved about 7kg of liver and heart. So all things considered, our cost per lb ended up closer to $2 and change. I’ve done my homework and posted about it before. Superb value for money, if you’re willing to get your hands dirty.

Logistics
I broke the animals and cut loin and belly, one guy cut joints and deboned hams and shoulders, and one lady wrapped as we went. All-in-all, a good strategy – but my body certainly would have liked me better had we had more hands. We had more hands near the end, and it helped a lot. A couple people per pig is likely a far wiser way to share the load. Grinding as we went at the end of each pig was certainly a smart way to handle the ground pork. By far, the biggest error of the day was simply getting started late – hoping to save some km driving by meeting the farmer half-way to the slaughterhouse. Next time, earlier start. It took 9 hrs. Finishing when you’re nearly ready for bed is neither fun nor smart.

I must give some pretty major props to this website. It guides you through cutting pig without a bandsaw. There’s a lot of great videos on youtube on butchering pig – but they generally involve the use of a bandsaw.

More to come.

One Response

  1. [...] tasty, and appeals to many. That next spring, I did 2 whole pigs, with a friend. That fall, we did 3 pigs, with another friend. I’ve got it figured now: a pig doesn’t last us a year. So prior [...]

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