A few years ago, I lived on some acreage where I raised two pigs from weaner to slaughter size in about 5 months. I was amazed at how fast they were able to put on weight. The little pink critters went from 50 pounds in May when I acquired them to 300 pounds in October.
It was a rewarding experience interacting with Hambone and Tenderloin. (Never give names like Daisy and Curly Tail to animals you intend to eventually serve for supper.) They would come up to the porch each day, along with the dogs, for their afternoon treat. It was also a very difficult experience raising the pigs - following through on having them slaughtered so we could have ham, bacon, sausage and pork chops in the freezer. We traded the meat from one hog for an equal amount of grass-fed beef that some friends raised on their mountain ranch.
Free-range pork is a wonderful taste experience and Hank Will, the editor of our sister publication Grit has taken on raising some Mulefoot hogs - listed as critical by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) - that will both increase the continuation of the breed and supply his family with some good eating. Of course with faces this adorable, it is hard to know how they will be able to think of their little charges as hambone and tenderloin. For now, Hank and his wife just enjoy watching them root around in the dirt and take naps in the straw. Be sure to read Hank's blogs here and here. Watch the piggies enjoying breakfast, below.
Photo by Kate Will