We raised 2 Red Wattle hogs in the forest again this year. This year, however, we raised barrows (castrated boys) instead of gilts (girls) like last year. Man, oh, man did those boy grow fast!! The first hog was sold to customers, and we wound up taking it to the processor several months earlier than planned (the schedule being based on the gilts’ growth last year). At 6 months old, his hanging weight came to 198 lbs, which is roughly 300 lbs. live weight. The second hog was destined for our own freezer. Typically, we butcher our personal animals right here on the farm. In order to do the larger animals such as hogs and beef, we have to wait for colder weather so we can hang the sides in our garage for a cooling and aging period. So, after the first hog left, we kept the remaining hog as happy as we could. We supplied him with happy-hog-staples such as mud, fresh forest forage, roots, nuts, kitchen leftovers, milk and whey, hog feed, whatever we could think of. Maybe we over did it a little. Just a little.
OK, a LOT.
When it looked as though S’s elbows were not healing, the decision was made to send our hog to the processor as well. He was getting to expensive to feed, and he wouldn’t stop growing. One evening, we bribed him with a little milk, got him up into the trailer (you can youtube “elephant seal trying to climb onto a car” if you want a visual), gave him a pile of soft hay to nest into, and let him settle in for the night. We just hoped our trailer survived until morning. Early the next morning, S drove him to the processor. The workers in the livestock area took one look at him laying all comfy-cozy in his hay bed, and said, “uh, how do we get him out?” They then proceeded to look at each other with each stating his position that he would NOT enter that trailer with that beast. So, not wanting to hold up the line, S said, “don’t worry, I’ll get him out.” He jumped up in the trailer, called him, gave him a scratch behind the ears, and bribed him out of the trailer in seconds. The livestock guys stood there with their chins on the loading ramp. Guess they hadn’t seen it done that way before. It’s so much easier in our opinion, but really, what do we know? It is only our 4th hog after all.
By that afternoon, we had a hanging weight of 289 lbs, which equates to over 400 lbs live weight. I realize that isn’t a huge hog by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve seen some approaching 800-1000 lbs. THAT is impressive! Nonetheless, he was twice the size of a typical hog at processing time. As it turned out, not only did he have some impressively large pork chops cut out of his sides, but he also had 3 inches of back fat. Seeing as how S asked the processor for the fat, which is now being stored in my freezer, I’m seeing a lot of lard-making in the not-too-distant future.
Then, by the time I get that task completed, it will be time to start all over. We’ve already ordered up 6 hogs for next year. Believe it or not, we are excited about it. Hogs can be a lot of fun, but there’s no way I can convince you of that. You’ll just have to try raising one yourself.