I took two pigs to the butcher in January, to be greatly enjoyed by friends/customers. In this instance, these are the first two of my butchered pigs that were born and raised here.
Much as I enjoy and love my pigs, they are very much a part of a cycle of life for me. As far as quality of life for livestock goes, free-range pasture animals allowed to hang out in their herd enjoy heaven on earth. As another local pig farmer says, “They only have one bad day.”
And my pigs do more than provide meat. They have rooted out all of the thistles, shiny geranium, tansy, dock, and other invasive nonnative weeds in their pastures, tilled the land, and add some compost back into the soil. That eventually turns into quality nutrition that’s mighty tasty.
The past couple of years have also been a cycle of learning for me. I’ve taken a number of classes and attended events dedicated to pasture and woodland management. Having seen the cycle of life of my own growing herd, I now know that my pastures do not have the capacity to sustain 18 rapidly growing pigs. My goal is to reduce my herd size to four or five and begin to do more rotational grazing in spots that need to be disturbed so I can replant with competitive vegetation. The pigs that get sold will happily continue their life’s work on someone else’s pasture land.
As Joel Salatin says, this is the marvelous pigness of pigs.
Quotes and Trivia
We say that flowers return every spring, but that is a lie. It is true that the world is renewed. It is also true that that renewal comes at a price, for even if the flower grows from an ancient vine, the flowers of spring are themselves new to the world, untried and untested.
The flower that wilted last year is gone. Petals once fallen are fallen forever. Flowers do not return in the spring, rather they are replaced. It is in this difference between returned and replaced that the price of renewal is paid.
And as it is for spring flowers, so it is for us.
– Daniel Abraham, The Price of Spring