First, we did end up getting two Yorkshire mix pigs at the end of September. The two sows were approximately a month old when they came to live here. After we got the first two girls, our friends asked if we would raise pigs for them and we said, "What are two more?" We ended up picking the last two piglets from that litter. All the girls lived in an area that we created with cattle fencing, which is relatively cheap, but strong enough to hold these strong girls in. As they grew, we moved the girls to a new area with blackberry bushes, and expanded the amount of space they had. In addition, we built them a bigger house to contain their quickly growing bodies. The girls were eating a combination of pork maker, which we buy from our local mill, and corn. We also gave them all sorts of great scraps, except for meat. Here in Virginia, it is illegal to feed pigs meat due to the possibility of them contracting illnesses and transferring to humans through their meat. It was not a problem; however, because the girls would eats fruits, vegetables, dairy, breads, and even vegan quinoa chili.
As the piglets grew into 200 pound sows we knew the invitable time would be coming, and the reason why the girls were purchased in the first place. So Donald placed the phone call to a local butcher that would process the pigs for us, they had great prices and many referrals. We decided we would have two girls done before Christmas, and then two processed in January. Donald and I roll up to the butcher's address with the two girls in the trailer. However, the house looks like a suburban neighborhood, and does not seem like a place to have pigs processed. Donald tells the owner that we are here with our two pigs, and the man gets a wheelbarrow. Donald looks at the guy and says, "What are you doing with that?" The man responds, "helping you get your pigs." Donald replies, "Well, I don't know how you think that is going to work because our pigs are alive." It turns out that this particular gentleman is an excellent butcher, but he only processes animals after they have been killed. Obviously that would not work for us. So two of our sows had a lovely tour of Blacksburg, VA home of the Virginia Tech Hokies.
This still left us with a need to process the pigs, as the girls were getting very big and were eating pounds of food each day. So our excellent neighbor recommended us to a meat processor that lives down the road in Catawba. He processed the two largest sows the following week and did an excellent job. The meat from these two pigs were not cured, but the pigs that are due to be processed mid January will be cured.
As an animal lover I had many misgivings about raising an animal to be slaughtered. However, I realized that I prefer to raise an animal and know that it has been fed and cared for properly, rather than to buy meat from the local food store where the animals may not have received such careful care. Our pigs have led a great life with a big open space to run, dig, and play. They ate a well balanced diet, and enjoyed getting ear rubs and tummy scratches. I am confident that our pigs only ever had one bad moment in their lives. We are sure that when they were processed they did not suffer whatsoever, and everything was done in a very humane way. When the last two sows leave I will miss them, and their excited oinking as we come out with leftovers from dinner. Pigs are truly lovely animals, and should be respected for their intelligent and affectionate nature.