You see, pigs are smart. Pigs are cute. Pigs aren't dirty, like most people assume (and in this day and age, I'm shocked by the ignorance...) and pigs have emotions, just like we do. Pigs can be happy, sad, frustrated and so on.
That's why I can't eat them. If you do, how do you do it? How could you eat a pig, a sentient being, yet you'd cringe at the very idea of eating a dog or cat. What's the difference? Plenty of people have pigs as pets. Would you serve up a honey baked cat for Thanksgiving?
Oh, my bad... did I just make anyone sick? Reality is not always puppies and lush fields of grass and flowers, rainbows and unicorns. If you saw how the pigs are treated at factory farms — yes, that's where your store-bought pork comes from — you'd cringe. The abuse is horrific. I think some men choose to work at factory farms because they know they can't beat the crap out of their girlfriends, wives or children. The poor pigs are far easier targets for their anger and sociopathic behavior.
Holy Digression! Let's get some cute, adorable pig photos up before I go on a real rant. (Oh, the real rant will come, for those of you still buying Hormel and other cruel brands.)
Cute Piggies of all sizes and colors! w00t!
|Penny the Pig|
So, now you've seen some cute piggies.
Read about a few of them, please. If you dare.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2010
Penny the Pig’s time had come. She’d been well fed for the last year, gorging on all the leftovers from the kitchen along with a kilo or two of meal a day.
We had no tradition of keeping pigs on the farm before I started up the Mobile Farm. So everything in relation to rearing, feeding, killing and butchering the pig were all new to me. The first couple of pigs were killed and butchered and immediately put into my freezer.
But after two years of every type of pork dish possible, I realised that it was time for me to do a little more with my pig than just cut it up. I happened to be looking through Darina Allen’s brilliant new book, Forgotten Skills, when I discovered a whole chapter on how to cure your own pig. Suddenly I realised that there was a whole world of culinary delights from dry cured rashers to chorizo sausages and even DIY Parma ham that was possible in my own kitchen.
I also realised that with the explosion in hobby pig-rearing that there would probably be a huge interest in this whole process. Suddenly Penny was going to be immortalised as Ear to the Ground came on board to catch the whole procedure on camera.
As per usual, I didn’t think the whole thing through very carefully. As the camera crew landed down to the farm first thing on Monday morning, it transpired that the man lined up to kill the pig had called in sick. Luckily after a few frantic phone-calls, James Anderson up in Mullagh in Cavan volunteered to do the job for us.
Poor old Penny thought she was just going for another spin, as she had done for the previous 12 months. But, as James said himself, she died well, with no stress at all. While it was a bit surreal seeing her lobbed into baths of hot water and pummelled and blow-torched by de-hairing machines, I was proud of the carcase she left us with – very lean with well coloured hams.
Two days later I left before sunrise to collect the carcase which had been left hanging in Anderson’s chill. Back at the farmhouse three hours later, the camera crew had already arrived along with my butcher for the day, Teagasc’s Paddy Ward.
For the next 12 hours, we sawed and cut, minced and mixed, salted and packed kilos and kilos of pig meat. In the process we completely took over the kitchen for the day (and night as it turned out) with piles of mixing bowls, meat and ingredients stacked everywhere.
A word of warning: butchering and curing your own pig is only half of the job. The cleaning up is constant, especially when there’s raw meat involved. We had also saved the pig’s blood from the abattoir so that we could also make our own black puddings. It sounds gruesome but it was simply all part of the age-old tradition of preserving and using as much as possible of your own pig. As they say, you can use every part of the pig bar the squeal.
I was knackered by the time I finally dried and put away the last mixing bowl at 1.10am that night. But happily knackered. It was a good day’s work. And there was a good six months supply of hams, bacon, pork and sausages in my freezer. Penny – ya done good!