Friday, February 3, 2012

bad meat

I'm so upset to write this, but I think all that pork I raised and invested in has to be thrown out. I found out when I picked up the meat that one of the livers had a white cyst on it the size of a quarter and was yellow inside. Yellow isn't normal, it is a jaundice and a sign of a bacterial infection. The butcher didn't save the liver so I can't test it and I don't know what meat in my freezer came from which animal.

So what can I do? I spent the morning talking to USDA slaughter houses, local farms, butchers, vets, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension. All said the same thing: the meat is most likely okay, probably healthier than anything at the grocery store, but they can't be sure without having seen the liver or having it tested in a lab. So there is no way to know that if I cooked and served it to myself or others that the bacteria that caused the yellow liver couldn't hurt me or others. It could be a bug the oven or our stomachs could not kill. Even though only one pig was guilty, I don't know which pig it was (the butcher isn't exactly sure either, they butchered 13 pigs that week) and I can't eat pork on a hunch it is "probably" fine. And even if I could pinpoint the yellow liver, I can't tell the cuts apart. And as it turns out that sausage is the ultimate democracy...

So what caused the liver problem? Websites and vets told me it most commonly happens if that particular pig had a selenium, corn, or personal allergy or deficiency. There really is no way to tell. It's not a confinement vs free range issue (or every pig in industrial America would have the same problem) as much as it is a sore luck issue. In the giant slaughterhouses if a carcass has a bad liver, it is disposed of. When you only have two pigs on a farm and don't know this till you pick up the meat, it is too late.

So while I am waiting to hear back and see if there is a last-ditch way to get the meat tested and approved, I don't have any faith in it. All the experts I talked to said flat-out a yellow liver is a risk and a condemned carcass. Testing the meat would cost more than replacing it would. This years pork is too risky to even use as dog food or compost. If the chickens or wildlife ate it, the bacteria could infect them too. It is heartbreaking news. A total waste. An emotional and financial hit I wasn't prepared for. Between putting down Pidge and this I just feel deflated.

All I can do is try again, and fail better next time. I know this, and you haven't seen the last pig on Cold Antler Farm, but I am going to cry like a child when I start bagging up that meat in trash bags. I feel horrible.

Beef chili and potato Soup tomorrow at the workshop. No pork.


Blogger Jen said...

I wonder why the butcher didn't save it, or keep the meat from each pig separate? It seems like the kind of thing a butcher would know about.

That really sucks, and would be a tremendous waste for you. I'm sorry.

February 3, 2012 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Kristi C. said...

This is really awful to hear. While all your explanation shows that these things just happen, when it happens to YOU - I am really sorry.

February 3, 2012 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Christee said...

I am so sorry to hear about the meat Jenna. Was there any way to tell while it was still alive, like yellowing of the whites of its eyes?

February 3, 2012 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

I am sorry.

February 3, 2012 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

There was no sign of jaundice or infection in the adult pigs. no yellow eyes or skin, the meat and entrails were not yellow either. It was an infection just starting but strong, apparently.

February 3, 2012 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger MIB said...

Oh, Jenna, I'm so sorry. I know what's like to be a small farmer taking an emotional, spiritual, and financial hit like this. I feel for you. Just know that it's not just you.

February 3, 2012 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Joie said...

Heart-rending news, Jenna. So sorry to hear!

February 3, 2012 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

Sorry for your news. Take care!

February 3, 2012 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

Doesn't the butcher have some responsibility in this? Knowing that this kind of problem could ruin the whole batch, should he have saved the liver, or at least called you before he got rid of it?

February 3, 2012 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

In your post directly following the slaughter, you said you kept the livers. How and why did they get transported to the butcher? You could have packaged and frozen them yourself. If you were keeping them why would they discard them? If they found the cyst and thought it looked like a problem, why would they continue to butcher and package the meat much less throw out the offending part? This isn't making sense to me right now.
Any governmental agency you speak with will tell you to discard the meat because it is a CYOA world. Logically, how would a bacterial infection from an enclosed cyst on the liver that is removed immediately after slaughter contaminate the meat? Whoever told you that in a commercial slaughter house that a carcass with a suspect liver would be discarded was blowing smoke. Those carcasses are processed so fast they wouldn't know which pig it came from.

February 3, 2012 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Rae said...

If it were me, I'd be looking for a new butcher. He should know better, and you should have at the very least been contacted to see what you wanted to do before he went forward with the processing. Unacceptable.

February 3, 2012 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

The butcher didn't do anything wrong. I paid him to come slaughter my pigs, he did and he did it well. He took them back to his shop, butchered them, and reported the liver. He tossed it out because it wasnt food quality. I don't think he expected me to not eat the meat or test it because the rest of it seemed normal and fine. I was the one who chose not to eat it. I just can't risk anyone getting sick from this farm.

February 3, 2012 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Cat said...

So sorry to hear this. It does seem ridiculous that the butcher would not have immediately informed you of this before finishing cutting and packaging the meat. I mean, does he normally go ahead and eat the meat from a pig with this kind of liver?

February 3, 2012 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

But yes rae, i do wish he called and let us both save the time and (me) the money. Though I'm not angry at him. Just upset for the wasted life. I can re-earn the money if I work at it, and I the time is lost regardless. So all I can do is try again.

February 3, 2012 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I don't know, maybe he does? I might be over-reacting. I just feed people besides me, you know? I can't mindfully know this, know there is a risk, and serve it to workshops or barter with it. Even if I am being overly cautious, I have learned my lesson for sure.

before next pig goes to slaughter: tell butcher to call if anything is suspect and we will move from there.

February 3, 2012 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Beth of the Rocks said...

Oh Jenna, that's horrible! There was so much time, effort, and investment in them! One thing though - whatever your pig had, does it lay dormant in the pigs' surroundings? (Like parvo with dogs...) It would be even worse to have it happen again.

It seems that the USDA should have some way to test to see if meat is safe for consumption, after all, the majority of the American population eats according to their standards.


February 3, 2012 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Buttons said...

I am so sorry we had that with a bad beef cow once it is heartbreaking and a financial burden. We had sold the meat to a family member so it was even worse. I understand. It is so hard to throw it out. I am so sorry.Take care.
The butcher is not to blame.This is hard for some to understand unless they know how that works.

February 3, 2012 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Beth, I didn't use a USDA plant. I used a local, traveling butcher. What I gave up in certification I gained in on-farm killing (no stress for the animals) and

the liver was a fluke, could have been a million reasons and I was just unlucky. I won't use that breeder again because it could be genetic. And it isn't a problem that is contagious or the other pig would have had it too. It can be consumed by me though, if the bacteria lives in the flesh or bloodstream of the animal.

Either way, that pig pen is being totally disinfected.

February 3, 2012 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Aisha said...

Im so sorry to hear about your pig. It's better to be safe than sorry,

February 3, 2012 at 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have had a really hard week and I am sending you all my sincerest sympathies and even offering up a few prayers that things will even out for you soon. Something good is coming your way, I believe. I am sorry the pork was wasted and your investment was completely lost, but I am glad those two pigs lived comfortable, healthy lives, that were ended with all the best of intentions.

February 3, 2012 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger NMPatricia said...

My sympathies probably don't change much. But want you to know that I so value your blogs. You do an excellent job of relaying what it is like to have your little piece of heaven. There are heartaches and triumphs. And I feel like I suffer along with you. You don't hide anything. I admire you on so many levels. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

February 3, 2012 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

At the very least, you might want to consider offering up the meat for free to anyone who will take it. Of course, you will fully disclose what you know. It would be an awful waste to see that meat thrown in the trash.

Over the years, I've eaten many, many things that probably should have caused me some type of illness, but I'm usually too stubborn and frugal to throw something away unless I absolutely know it presents a life threatening danger.

February 3, 2012 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

Just offering condolences, not advice. We've all been there.

Although I'm able to kill my own lambs on site, I still prefer to take them to a locally-run abattoir where a vet inspects all the carcasses killed. The first lambs I ever had done turned out to have liver fluke. The meat was OK but the livers were condemned (not even OK for dogs). But because of this, I found out our land was infected, added a flukicide to our worming regime and improved the health of my future stock.

Just think of what you've learned from this crummy experience. I know it's cold comfort at the moment.

February 3, 2012 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

Just offering condolences, not advice. We've all been there.

Although I'm able to kill my own lambs on site, I still prefer to take them to a locally-run abattoir where a vet inspects all the carcasses killed. The first lambs I ever had done turned out to have liver fluke. The meat was OK but the livers were condemned (not even OK for dogs). But because of this, I found out our land was infected, added a flukicide to our worming regime and improved the health of my future stock.

Just think of what you've learned from this crummy experience. I know it's cold comfort at the moment.

February 3, 2012 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger E said...

Why not mark it separately and use only for yourself & dogs?

DOn't throw it away in a fit of desperation. Consider your options.

February 3, 2012 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

OMG - I feel horrible for you - and you're so right it could be in the bloodstream/capillaries of the meat as the liver is the filter organ of the body. I am going to buy a few of your books as gifts for friends to help you out.

February 3, 2012 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Flartus said...

I'm with the doglady on this...I'm not in your shoes, but I suspect that I'd probably cook up some sausage and try a little bit on my own. Just a bite or two; just because I'd have to know! If that didn't hurt me, I'd eat a small portion...then go on from there. (Or maybe I'm talking out my ass and would be too scared to try it in real life...)

Still, I'm betting that there's a bit of overkill going on here (no pun intended). I grew up with biochemists, and Dad almost always knew the science behind these things, and would debunk this kind of gov't watchdog stuff (i.e. how can a supposedly deadly bacteria in the liver be also living in the muscle tissue without any systemic illness?) Out of curiousity, do you know the name of the bacteria in question?

I hope you ask the butcher if he would eat the meat, having seen that liver...I'd be interested to hear his response!

February 3, 2012 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Mist said...

I don't have anything to add that someone else hasn't already said. I just want to give you my support because I know that, when things go bad, the more love you have surrounding you, the better.

February 3, 2012 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

various worms can cause cysts in the organs of pigs. generally the organs are tossed because they are visually unpleasing, but the rest of the meat can be used.

i'd ask your vet if its possible to detect parasites through a fecal test on week old feces.

February 3, 2012 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

the issue isn't the cyst, and there were no worms in the pigs (we checked the intestines cause I was curious at slaughter) but the problem is the bacteria in the liver.

I don't want to eat it. I don't want to test it. I don't want me, or the dogs, or anyone I'd give it to for free get sick because of this farm. It is a waste, I know that. But i don't want to feel stressed out saving a couple hundred bucks that somewhere out there someone is getting irreversible bacterial disease because of me. And if my dogs were poisoned or messed up because of it, I would never forgive myself.

February 3, 2012 at 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry to hear this - it's disappointing, especially when so much time, energy, and thought have gone into a project. I hope that somehow this can be resolved or remedied.

February 3, 2012 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

if I tasted one piece, it could have been just fine and from the "good pig" then I could serve sausage or a chunk I thought was okay and three weeks later a person could be dealing with jaundice. Not worth it. I know it sounds wasteful. I am just trying to put it behind me.

February 3, 2012 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I think Flartus has a good idea. Ask the butcher if he would eat it. If he thought it was a problem I ask again, why would he continue to cut it and package it. I would try it myself before I threw it all away.
How did anyone determine that it was a bacterial infection to begin with? There are just too many unknowns and too much drama in this story.

February 3, 2012 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger Bill Fosher said...

Jaundice can be caused by a vitamin D deficiency. If the pigs didn't get enough supplement, that could explain everything. In the winter at middle latitudes there's not enough sunlight to produce vitamin D, even in animals that are outside all the time. The dates vary according to how far you are from the equator, at 43 degrees the sun's angle is too low from about Oct.. 1 to March 30.

February 3, 2012 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger Bill Fosher said...

Jaundice can be caused by a vitamin D deficiency. If the pigs didn't get enough supplement, that could explain everything. In the winter at middle latitudes there's not enough sunlight to produce vitamin D, even in animals that are outside all the time. The dates vary according to how far you are from the equator, at 43 degrees the sun's angle is too low from about Oct.. 1 to March 30.

February 3, 2012 at 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgot to say that, for whatever it's worth, I think getting rid of it is the best choice, especially if there's no easy or inexpensive way to figure out if it's safe. I abhor waste, but growing up my mom used to always say "if in doubt, throw it out", and it stuck. As you've said, risking someone's health - yours or anyone else's - is a huge risk.

February 3, 2012 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I think he cut it up because that's his job. And the liver was BRIGHT yellow, he said.

I can't answer these problems and I am not reporting this for dramatic reasons. I don't know what is safe or not, but everyone I talked too, from vets to butchers to farmers said no to eating it. I'm not going to test it on me either. I get sick and this farm is F*&@* there's no one here to watch it if I get sick and now that I am an hourly employee I don't get paid for sick days. I can't afford to "test" it any sense and my gut says don't take the chance.

February 3, 2012 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 3, 2012 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

its my understanding you kept these pigs inside a stall of the barn from the time they stepped on your property until they were slaughtered?

were they ever exposed to natural light or experience even a moment outside in the sun?

February 3, 2012 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger tngaston said...

Oh Jenna I'm so sorry about this! I saw the pride that you took in the pigs, and how honored they were for their purpose, and I'm so sad for you that this happened. I also totally understand your decision and respect it, and would probably make the same one, although I'd definitely talk to the butcher about next time. *hugs* and courage to you.

February 3, 2012 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Pigs were in the barn, but had plenty of sunshine everyday. their pen was right by the front open door, plus another door always open next to them Jasper uses.

The vet said the problem was bacterial, not related to Vitamin D or then they would be jaundiced all over, eyes to skin to fat etc.

February 3, 2012 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Those pigs looked happy and healthy at the wool workshop. Never would have guessed that anything was wrong. This sucks. The pigs lived well and died well. I am so so so sorry for the wasted effort, money, emotional output and time.

February 3, 2012 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Oh no! I am so sorry, Jenna. Keep your head up. If you've learned something from this experience it is not a waste. As much as it hurts to toss out something that you put time and heart into, you are making the right choice to bypass any potential harm that could be done by taking a risk with that meat. It sounds like you did everything right and this is just a rather unfortunate fluke.

February 3, 2012 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I am so sorry about what you've had to go through this week. I really hope you're done with the worst of February so that it can be uphill from here. Blessings.

February 3, 2012 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I'm so sorry to hear this Jenna. How disappointing. I am also wondering why the butcher didn't notify you upon finding something. My husband had brought an elk to our butcher a few years ago (one that he had to put out of misery) and we received a call from our butcher saying that he didn't think the meat was safe. He mentioned that it looked like the elk had overworked his muscles and the meat would be tainted. He didn't even charge us a penny for starting the butchering.

I hope that you find out exactly what is going on and that you can recover your costs and perhaps find a better butcher.

February 3, 2012 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Flint Handmade said...

Dear Fellow Cold Antler Farm Blog Readers:

I am a long-time reader, first-time commenter.

As a crafter who founded a nonprofit handcrafting organization to promote the handmade movement, I identified with Jenna's do-it-yourself attitude in Made from Scratch. Reading that book in 2010 inspired me so much that it launched me into an ongoing personal journey toward self-sufficient homesteading. Moreover, I introduced myself to my now fiancé by recommending Made from Scratch.

So, for over two years, I have felt a kinship with Jenna, but we have never so much as communicated once.

Until now.

Reading her blog post today about losing the pork affected me very, very deeply.

I know she wants to put this incident behind her, but I have something I need to say first.

I feel that we homesteaders, whether urban or rural, are a community and that we should rally around each other when one of us could use assistance.

To that end, I have made my first donation ever to Cold Antler Farm using the Donate button on the left.

I am only speaking for myself and I know that Jenna was NOT IN ANY WAY asking for money to help replace what she lost in the pigs. Money is really no replacement for the loss of time and energy.

But, I felt compelled to support Jenna in any way I can and, right now, circumstances allow for me to contribute a few dollars to a fellow homesteader who just lost a major investment. I also hope that this show of support is a morale booster for Jenna, who has been dealt a very rough blow.

I know not everyone is in a position to pitch in, but I encourage anyone else who feels the same as I do to make even a small donation.

All my best to you, Jenna. Please take care.

Crystal Pepperdine
Flint Handmade

February 3, 2012 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

Yep, I would be upset about that, too. I know some platitude like "you win some, you lose some" or whatever would be appropriate here. But seriously - that sucks. I can only offer wishes for a more successful pork harvest the next time round.

February 3, 2012 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger mary in manchester said...

ditto what flint handmade said. we've got your back, jenna.

February 3, 2012 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Beth of the Rocks said...

I'm sorry I was misunderstood - I meant given the USDA should have some way to test the meat the majority of Americans consume, they should have some way to test yours also. I know you take your's to a personal butcher.

And I would throw it away before serving it to others if there was any doubt also. It still sucks.


February 3, 2012 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I second Flint Handmade's comment!

This is an unfortunate outcome, but one that many of us homesteaders have had to experience at some time or other. All the best of intentions can sometimes lead to complete loss, financial or other. Despite the loss, it is always a lesson learned. Let's support Jenna (as we have been supported by her with her blog and books)!

Jenna, chin up and move on.

February 3, 2012 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

If I remember right, the hanging weights of the pigs were significantly different. I know it's not proof positive but the lighter pig was likely the sickie.

February 3, 2012 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

Jenna, I absolutely agree with your decision, having been the sickest I ever was in my life after some bad thuranger that someone had made themselves....unless you have experienced that kind of stomach savagery, and gut wrenching wouldn't understand it. Not even your doggies deserve to be at risk! I am sorry for you, but you are doing exactly what I would do after having that unforgetfull life event~ hugs~ it will get better!

February 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

Jenna - It was NOT a waste, because you learned from it. Period. I know it's tough but if your gut says not to eat it, then DON'T eat it. I am sure the commercial farmers lose a certain percentage of their 'crop' and we homesteaders do too.

I am glad you chose to err on the side of caution. As a single person, I'd have done the same for exactly the same reasons. If I get sick, my kids and animals are effed.

February 3, 2012 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

At the very least, ask the butcher if he'd eat it. I assume he would since he continued to package. If he says yes, give it to him.

February 3, 2012 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

Jenna, I absolutely agree with your decision, having been the sickest I ever was in my life after some bad thuranger that someone had made themselves....unless you have experienced that kind of stomach savagery, and gut wrenching wouldn't understand it. Not even your doggies deserve to be at risk! I am sorry for you, but you are doing exactly what I would do after having that unforgetfull life event~ hugs~ it will get better!

February 3, 2012 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Just got off the phone with a local pig farmer (Flying Pig Farm) and the Albany Cornell Office. Both said the safest thing to do is toss it. Neither thinks it is dangerous, but the risk it is isn't worth the danger of eating it or feeding it to others.

February 3, 2012 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger delpasored said...

I’m sorry about the financial loss as well as the emotional blow you’ve had today. I think the decision to toss the meat is a wise one, if you get sick you are on your own and the farm and animals will suffer not just you. (I remember when you had food poisoning a while back)
You are a teacher, and your readers have learned questions to ask a butcher when they come to slaughter our animals. Your pigs lived a good life and if their bodies do not nourish you, they will nourish the earth where they lie.

February 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Sparkless said...

Seems the best and safest solution is to take a loss on the meat and get rid of it. Sure that sucks but as you say why take the risk of it infecting anyone else?
Some lessons come harder than others unfortunately.

February 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

I fully support Flint Handmade's idea - When I pressed on the DONATE button on your screen Jenna it came up - Jenna is that you?

I know this won't help much but the books I ordered from the bookstore you had a book promotion at (Battenkill Books) came today - thank you so much for signing them

Folks her books are great - I am so happy to have three now - she writes so well...

My heart goes out and I am sure a lot ofus wish we could be there to help you through this gut wrenching experience

February 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

You are doing the right thing, although it's really painful and expensive. I'm one of those people who will eat an egg that cracked in the nest, or soup that maybe has been in the fridge a bit too long if it smells OK, but I don't take big risks. I've unknowingly eaten bad food in another country and had a stubborn bout of campylobacter that lasted for months and like you, I am the staff of my farm and it doesn't run without me. I also just heard about a woman farmer I knew who died from eating tainted meat (I don't know the details). So, it is better to be safe than sorry in a way that can't be made better. Your butcher sounds like a stand-up guy and you can talk to him about some way to make sure this doesn't happen next time.

February 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger TransFarmer said...

I'm sorry you have to take a loss like that. I understand that the butcher did his job, but not as efficiently as possible. A bright yellow liver would have made me pause and call the owner to determine further instructions. Hopefully, if you use the butcher again, you can work something out with them going forward.

If you had the room, you could possibly keep a sow for breeding that you could monitor the genetics and sell off any piglets you don't want to fatten up. That way, you would have more control over genetics and extra income from piglets.

Keep your chin up and thanks for sharing this post, as not everything on a farm comes out roses. I appreciate the honesty of the blog.

February 3, 2012 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Amy~Johns Custom Meats said...

Was the actual liver yellow or just the cyst on the liver?

Did all of the pigs seem to grow properly?

Did the butcher notice any issues with the nodes (glands)?

Was the heart, lungs, and kidneys normal?

Who said it could be a bacterial infection? ....& what type of bacterial infection did they suspect it could be? I ask because if all the glands were fine & all the other organs & the pig was behaving normal, this is highly unlikely.

It is extremely common to see cysts or scaring on pig livers, especially pastured ones. Most commonly caused by parasites. Do you de-worm your pigs? If not, it is a good idea to have a worming plan for any type of pig raising. They are prone to parasites, especially in pastured farming. With that said, if there was only one cyst on the liver and the yellow in the actual cyst and not the liver itself, your pork is likely perfectly fine. I'll be happy to try and help you sort this out if you'd like. I'd hate to see all that good pork (and your hard work) go to waste.

Amy (@KYFarmersMatter)

February 3, 2012 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Amy: the cyst was white and through the whole liver, and the liver, once cut into, was bright yellow all-throughout.

It was everyone I talked to who said what you said, probably fine, but the yellow liver wasn't and without tests everyone said you are taking a chance. It could be something that tainted the meat.

February 3, 2012 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

guys, those donations make me want to cry...that is so amazing of you. Yes, celticbonfires is an old yahoo address of mine attached to paypal since I was 18.

February 3, 2012 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

I'd would contact Joel Salatin, and ask for his opinion - if I knew him like I believe you do.

I, myself, wouldn't save the meat. It's definitely not worth the risk even you weren't the only employee on your farm. It's an expensive education but don't make it any more expensive than it already is.

I'm very surprised by the actions of your butcher, not even a phone call? The right thing would be for them to refund the cost related to cutting up the pigs, or do the next ones for free. But a better deal might be for the butcher to teach you how to process the meat yourself in exchange for any refund.

I know I've said this before, but I do everything myself from shooting the gun and sticking the pig - to the cutting, curing and smoking. It's very easy work for one or two pigs at a time.

The school of hard knocks is alot more expensive than people think it is.

February 3, 2012 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger Flartus said...

Aw, well, then that sucks. I didn't mean to question all the folks you've talked to--you've done a lot of homework on it. I was just curious about the butcher's pov.

I guess at the very least you can say you saved two pigs from a factory farm. And you gave Jasper some entertainment. I'd still trust you to raise a pig for me. :)

I sure hope there's some good news right around the corner for you.

February 3, 2012 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Erica/Northwest Edible Life said...

That just f-ing sucks. No way around it. I'm so sorry.

February 3, 2012 at 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Devastated for you--

February 3, 2012 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

I agree ... the butcher had to know there could be a possible problem so why did he not advise you and let you decided then and there? Atleast the one pig would have been kept separate. I agree also that the butcher should refund some or all monies or like CJ said teach you how to do it yourself. If I can shoot, gut, drag, and butcher a deer then you Jenna can learn to do your own pigs! No doubt in my mind girl! ...

February 3, 2012 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Jenna re the donations - its the least some of us can do - I lost my parents when I was 17 and 18 and I know how hard it is to be on your own trying to live the life you always dreamed to live - my motto is pay it forward - people helped me when devastation happened so am glad I can 'pay it forward'

keep on truckin'...

February 3, 2012 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Melody DeLury said...

I think you've just made up my mind that when we add pigs, and this year if we have goats to butcher....we'll do it by ourselves. I'm sorry to hear this happened to you though, what a huge loss.

February 3, 2012 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger janette said...

i would eat it anyways - just cook well. when we hunt bear they often have worms and we tend to pressure can the meat for storage because it comes out completely cooked.

February 3, 2012 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Melanie Ski said...

Wow I am surely surprised that the butcher proceeded knowing that about the pig if it is such a risk. That you could have at least had one of them saved. So sorry to hear that. No way to have the meat tested?

February 3, 2012 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger janette said...

i would eat it anyways - just cook well. when we hunt bear they often have worms and we tend to pressure can the meat for storage because it comes out completely cooked.

February 3, 2012 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Becky Lynn said...

So sorry Jenna. Quick question, as you like this butcher, perhaps you should only slaughter one animal at a time? Chin up, friend.

February 3, 2012 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger lorraine said...

This is such a sad story. And told with such grace. The world needs more women like you.

February 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger lorraine said...

This is such a sad story. And told with such grace. The world needs more women like you.

February 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole thing sucks; I'm so sorry. Definitely necessary to have an understanding with your butcher about how to proceed in the future. Lessons learned are so expensive!

February 3, 2012 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

I don't think it's over-reacting. After your campylobacter (sp?) illness that first summer, it only makes sense to err on the side of caution, and I applaud your bravery in once again publicizing the not-so-fun sides of farming. When nature turns on its ear even though you've done everything, the strength of character you must be developing from these trials! Super Farmer, girl! Consider me your unofficial cheering section ;)

February 3, 2012 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Severn Sunset said...

Jenna, were you worming your pigs on a regular basis. As Amy said above. if you were not worming most likely parasites.

February 3, 2012 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Jenna, I am so sorry to read about this. I guess I am having a bit of confusion as to why the butcher went ahead and processed both pigs and mixed up all the meat knowing that one of them was questionable. Just a little strange is all.

But I hope you have a good cry, because it looks like you need to let some out right about now. And goodness knows, if anyone deserves a really good cry, it's you. You are one of the strongest ladies I know and you probably don't give yourself permission to cry about alot of things that happen arounf your farm. So go ahead and cry, girl! And have yourself some good strong home brew with it. Then pick yourself up and get on with it.

February 3, 2012 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger Kpatt said...

I'm sorry this happened.

The butcher screwed up. If there was any question, He shouldn't have mixed the meats up. I would trade the meat to him. He should be glad to take it since he offered it to you to eat. Get some of your money back in exchange for the meat.
The expensive lesson learned is, "if you want something done right--do it yourself".

February 3, 2012 at 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, I completely understand your decision and I would have done the same, for whatever that is worth. I am so sorry happened. But! I know you will rise above it and learn as much as you can for future reference. Praying that, some how, you are able to recover the financial loss.

February 3, 2012 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

I'm so sorry. Hugs to you (((((J)))))))

February 3, 2012 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger singinggardengirl said...

I'm so sorry :( That sucks so much.

February 3, 2012 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger singinggardengirl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 3, 2012 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said... its possible this liver isn't even from one of your pigs? Is the butcher going to warn those who picked up the other 11?

Maybe I'm not following the story, first you say

'I spent the morning talking to USDA slaughter houses, local farms, butchers, vets, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension. All said the same thing: the meat is most likely okay, probably healthier than anything at the grocery store...'


'All the experts I talked to said flat-out a yellow liver is a risk and a condemned carcass.'

Do they think it is most likely ok or a risk?

February 3, 2012 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Paradise Found Farmgirl said...

I agree that the butcher did not handle this well and I hope he offers to make things right. It is not his fault that the pig was ill. But if all of these experts are telling you the carcass should have been condemned and it was sold back to you instead, well....I would find another butcher.

February 3, 2012 at 6:04 PM  
Blogger Catcoco said...

I have to agree with many others that the butcher did a poor job... He should have checked for disease signs to the organs BEFORE he cut and packaged the meat. You could have at least had the meat from one pig and the other one should have been discarded right there and then if not safe for consumption. Of course, that would have meant less money to him, but it would have been the right thing to do... I hope you do feel better soon. I hope that knowing that so many people care for you helps you deal with this...

February 3, 2012 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Debra said...

Oh Jenna... this is awful. When I told my husband your story he said it is *totally* the butcher's fault. He was unprofessional, he should have stopped everything the second he saw that yellow spot, bagged it, then called you and too, the meat from each pig should have been kept separate.

Again, this isn't your fault, nor the pig's, so please try not to let it devastate you too much. As someone said, anything which teaches something is valuable, also, so the pigs' deaths (and lives) are not without their value. Blessings, Debra

February 3, 2012 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Meredith A: they think both. They think the meat is okay, probably fine. However, the chance it isn't means they all agree it isn't worth the risk. I feel the same way. I think I am wasting perfectly good food that I am scared to eat or serve because of that slight chance of risk.

February 3, 2012 at 6:47 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Jenna - maybe talk to some of the people that recommended the butcher - I agree with some of the commentors - he mixed up the meat between the two carcasses and you should get some relief/compensation or a free deal next time - maybe seek advice from the folks that recommended him

February 3, 2012 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 3, 2012 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Anton said...

I'm with everyone else on this one. Why was the meat mixed if one was questionable? Ask him to take the meat back and butcher your next pigs for free. It's very strange.

February 3, 2012 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 3, 2012 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

And I thought I was having a bad day! One more thing to appreciate about your blog, Jenna - you always put things into perspective. I'm sorry about this whole situation. And I admire your "no blame" mentality but I think the butcher should have more responsibility in this case. It simply should be in his normal routine to call someone when an issue pops up and at the very least not cross contaminate the meat by keeping the carcasses and cuts separate. I know you're not blaming him but have you thought about giving him a call to see if he will take some responsibility? How can he expect customers to return if this is how nonchalant he is? You're a better woman than me, Jenna!
And I admire your steadfast unwillingness to share this meat with anyone else. You're building a business here, it's simply not good business (or moral) practice to give or sell something you'd not eat yourself. That would not bring any customers back to your farm either. Best of luck to you. You've got a lot of support behind you.

As an aside, do you watch any of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage shows? It's a British broadcast but you can watch the episodes on Youtube. They are great! He moves to the country to start his own small hold. Raises and grows and forages for his food. Teaches other how to do it, starts a local food business, founds a land share movement, etc. It seems like it's right up your alley!

February 3, 2012 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

THAT. EFFING. BLOWS. All around, it does. I know lots of folks have already taken the butcher to task, so I won't belabor that point except to say that I can't understand why they wouldn't have at least kept the two animals separate, upon seeing a suspect liver like that. Even if they went ahead and cut it, it can't be that hard to mark all the cuts from one animal as "suspect" (and skip the sausage).

In any case, I'm SO sorry. I know these things happen, but it sure smarts. I'd love to say that I'd have the stones to eat it anyway, but I wouldn't. I'd think about it long and hard, and ultimately chicken out. And NO WAY would I feed it to anyone else if I were the least bit unsure.

February 3, 2012 at 7:10 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

Does he know it was from one of yours or just one of the 13 he butchered?

February 3, 2012 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger windhaven farm said...

Just adding my two cents... but I believe the USDA does not test meat, it only inspects and grades. And it's like a couple second look over. Joel Salatin talks a ton about the disgraceful situation of USDA inspection and such in his new book, Folks, this Ain't Normal.... really good read.

It's really sucks though, and I totally get your thought about not testing it by eating it or feeding to your pets, yeah, the money sucks but then people loose out on things all the time with these hard life lessons. I'm sure everyone has a good story to tell about a good thing gone bad. I spent a ton of money on a car I adored that ended up with three transmissions and in the end I only got $600 outta the dang thing when it was hauled away. That hurt.

SOmetimes you just gotta do what you gotta do and get back on that pony and ride. Now you know more. Education is a good thing. Sometimes it's expensive. But you have a lot of good friends, readers and supporters and thats more than a lot of people have, so that's a real blessing. Good luck!!! :-)

February 3, 2012 at 7:36 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

This does not make sense at all. In your pig slaughter post, you said you kept the livers. Then in this post you said there was a cyst the size of a quarter, and the liver was yellow. But then you said the liver was bright yellow when he cut it open. If the liver was truly diseased, you would be able to tell that by looking at the outside of the liver. Didn't anyone notice a yellow liver when the pigs were butchered? The liver is pretty big and hard to miss. And if you kept the livers how did the butcher get it to cut it open?

Something isn't adding up.

February 3, 2012 at 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, the news really sucks - sorry for the loss of your hard work. You're likely taking the best path by not eating it - as you've said if you're down for even a few days things would go to pieces fast on the farm - not worth the risk.

Next time around you'll know better what to look for / ask come butchering time.

Still sucks, tho. Sorry for the loss!

February 3, 2012 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger Karen L. said...

I am so sorry for all this. Such a waste of pig, pork, and your time and money. I hope you can work this out in your head and heart so as to carry on. Well, I know you can .... of course, you can. You've been through worse.

February 3, 2012 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger Paradise Found Farmgirl said...

Thank you for sharing this. We are all learning right along with you. Farming is a humbling and wonderous adventure, isn't it? Hope you have some good times ahead. Think of the spring to come and all terrific things that entails. Lambs, garden veggies, warm sunshine and longer days!

February 3, 2012 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Paradise Found Farmgirl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 3, 2012 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Jenna katiegirl is right - you said in your post regarding the slaughter that all the offal and organs came out into your wheelbarrow and you were going to dump all that for the crows - are you sure the butcher did not mix you up with another customer - even your pictures show that it was only carcasses with ribs showing on the inside - no organs no liver in the hanging pieces -

February 3, 2012 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

I’m thinking the butcher probably took the liver back for sausage (although I wouldn’t have let him since I love liver and onions) and that it was deemed suspect after getting it to the shop. I don’t know of a butcher who would let someone throw out a liver. Just never dealt with a butcher who would do business like this (and I used to work for one all through high school and have been close friends with another and his business forever). Either he just didn’t think things were bad enough to botch the meat, or I don’t know. I’d toe the line for some sort of compensation unless the butcher could guarantee the meat he went on and processed (and then mixed in with the good one) was edible. But that’s hard to do sometimes—used to have a difficult time with this, but then got tired of taking an unnecessary hit, be it at work or with the car mechanic. Butchering, smoking etc… at home is a lot more rewarding—and lighter on the wallet. Bad luck for sure. Wish things had gone better and I’m with you on not eating questionable stuff (and however you decide to handle this). Glad you’re willing to do things on the farm with Atlas this weekend…take care and knock back a few cold ones tonight if needed.

February 3, 2012 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...

Don't have time to read all of the post and comments at the moment but enough to know there is a QUESTION whether or not the meat is SAFE. THROW IT OUT!!! Do not eat ANY of it! Years ago, I worked in a Southern hospital in the ICU and a family consumed some bad meat like this. Sadly, the family ended up burying an elderly grandfather, his daughter and one of the grandchildren. Please don't take any chances with your health. Just toss it. It isn't worth the risk. I'm sorry about the time and money invested but your health is worth more than that.


February 3, 2012 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Fresh Eggs Farm said...

Oh Jenna, what a disappointment. I'm so sorry. I'm hoping for better results.

February 3, 2012 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

Jenna, I am so sorry to hear about this. I may be re-stating what others have said due to the overwhelming outpouring of concern and suggestions, but I just want to let you know I am so glad that you are not going to eat the pork.
It is so hard for us in this lifestyle to deal with the idea of waste. To waste anything just goes against our nature. Especially such a wonderful and fulfilling item such as meat you raised on your own farm.
No one wants to see you or your aniamls sick and you are doing the right thing. Can we chalk this up to a very much blogged and commented about trial and error, and look forward to next seasons pigglets?
Have a cup of tea or a home brew and cuddle up with George and Gibson. Tomorrow is a new day to learn from and enjoy your farm.

February 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Victoria Nidetch said...

Sorry Jenna, got your back. Go hug George,Gibson and who ever else you can catch. We get stronger with each lesson learned.

February 3, 2012 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Well, think of it this way, if Kevin or Bacon had lived on longer and became physically ill, you probably would have spent that money on vet bills anyway. So the slate is wiped clean? Don't eat it, it's not worth it. Chin up. Planting season is right around the corner.

February 3, 2012 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

Oh dang, what a disappointment!! :( :( I'm afraid I would personally lean towards the "when in doubt, throw it out" side of things, but that's just me. I do think it was wrong of the butcher not to keep the meat separated when he noticed the liver. I used to work at a slaughter house, and if we had a bird that didn't look right, we always set it aside until the customer came, and then we would talk with them about the problem and ask what they would like done with the bird. One time we had a turkey come in that had a bad case of gangrene all throughout its wing and shoulder. Yuck. :-/

I am so sorry, though. What a tough ordeal!


February 3, 2012 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

So when I said "kept" I mean they cut out and set aside the tongue, livers, hearts, and kidneys and washed them in water and took them back to to packaged up with everything else. I threw out all the stomach, intestines, feet, head, and that stuff.

February 3, 2012 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

He knows it was my pigs, because all the farm kills are one farm at a time, the truck went from my place to their shop, was labeled and unloaded with my name. He didn't give anyone else my meat or liver.

He took home the two halves of each pig, the tongues, livers, hearts, and kidneys to be wrapped and packaged at the farm. He asked if I wanted them to cook right away and I explained I wouln't have time to cook them tonight so please take them back to the shop and freeze them right away. So the outside seemed mostly normal, minus the white spot (not uncommon) and then when he took it back to cut out the "bad part" and check the inside meat it was all bright yellow inside, so he tossed it.

February 3, 2012 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger USMCmom said...

This may seem totally off the wall, but totally legit--DEW Animal Sanctuary in Maine rescues unwanted and/or abused exotic animals. Perhaps they could use your pigs to feed their hyena. Since a hyena eats anything including carrion, any bacteria in your meat probably won't bother it. That way the pigs would not be totally wasted. Just thinking outside the box.

February 3, 2012 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Oh Jenna, I am so sorry for you! I hate the thought of waste yet I think I agree with you....just too much of a risk! Please don't be to discouraged! Your blog has helped me so very much!!! So don't give up! Please know you will be in my thoughts and prayers in the next few hours and days! Cindy

February 3, 2012 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Oh Jenna I am so sorry. It is a lesson we can all learn from, but so costly for you. When I have animals slaughtered in the future I will be careful that some sort of protocol is followed.
Oh I am so sorry for your loss.

Rosie - Now living her dream in Texas on a horse and cattle ranch

February 3, 2012 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Helen said...

Better safe than sorry. You did the right thing by throwing out the meat.
Onward and upward farmer!

February 3, 2012 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger georgie said...

Twenty minutes ago I talked to a friend who is in the hospital with a recurrence of c. difficile. She doesn't know how she caught it but it is an awfully tenacious infection. You are doing the right thing in tossing the pork out. Better to not have to worry about it being tainted. Still, I question why the butcher wouldn't call you about the liver blob before entirely butchering the pigs.

February 3, 2012 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger kristen said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. I had to throw out six chickens once when the butcher told me one of them had a weird, mushy liver. No way to know which one. Argh. Made me regret not taking the extra time to do the butchering myself (I do it often, but sometimes take them elsewhere if I'm not getting things done promptly). Lesson learned.

February 3, 2012 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Hi Jenna,
It's okay to cry.Heck I would. You're a tough cookie I could tell from your books and blogs. This too shall pass. Wish I could give you a hug right now. But hey,you taught us all a lesson--a huge lesson! I dream of homesteading, and you girl are living my dream. Just have a big bonfire party in your yard, slam the meat into the fire, have a cold beer, call your friends over and cuss your heart out.

February 3, 2012 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I read your post earlier today and it made me so sad for you. All that time, excitement, and money down the drain. In my experience, when life gets really rough, it means really good things are right around the corner.

Hang in there!

February 3, 2012 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger DJ's Farmette said...

Thanks for sharing your downfalls with us. Believe it or not, its reassuring to see someone else have struggles and get back up and try again. I admire you for reponding to your many comments,
im sure the real life issue of having to deal with the dissapointment was tiring enough, nevertheless responding to everyones questions, theories and advice. I just read your book last month and started reading your blog two days ago. I am a huge fan!! Keep up the good work!

February 3, 2012 at 11:13 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I don't know if it helps to hear one more person say how much this whole situation sucks, but add me to the list anyway. Why is it that bad stuff happens when you're the most excited about something? We could all hear how excited you were about the pork, and I was looking forward to sampling some Kevin (or Bacon) at Antlerstock.

But it's done now, and the only thing you can do is go on from here. And you will. You've got a very hard head, or you wouldn't be in the place that you are, or want it as bad as you do in the face of disappointments like this.

February 4, 2012 at 12:08 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

Oh Jenna, that's a tough blow...I'm so sorry. For what it's worth, I'm in total agreement, throw it all out, it's just not worth the risk. I also agree with what some others have said, in reguards to the butcher. Even if he thought the meat was safe he should have kept the pigs separate and notified you. You're the one paying for, and more importantly, eating it. In my humble opinion, I believe he owes you some sort of compensation, but again, you have to do what feels right to you.

February 4, 2012 at 12:12 AM  
Blogger Rose said...

Jenna - So sorry for your difficulies with this and the repercussions both financial and emotional. Take comfort in knowing that you are doing the right thing in tossing all the meat. My hope for you is that you once again will rebound as you have so many times in the past, take strength from all the good posts and good wishes being sent to you by so many people, and go forward with your creative and courageous life!

February 4, 2012 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Rose said...

One more thing -- is it possible to send a donation to you c/o Battenkill Books for those of us who do not like posting bank account or credit card numbers on the internet? thanks

February 4, 2012 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

tough blow kid... next time will be different. Better. I stand by the decision you made... I'd probably throw it out too.

February 4, 2012 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Jenna, So sorry to hear about what happened. I am sure it was devastating and you have had a very rough week. I too am of the opinion that the butcher should have notified you before all the meat was packaged so you could make your decision. But, live and learn. This is what life is about. My mother always used to say "this will make you stronger for the next time" I hated the saying but it is the truth. But, you are already strong and nothing will beat you down. We always learn something new when things like this happen.
Hope your workshop goes well today. You are an inspiration for many people including myself !

February 4, 2012 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Karen C said...

Farming = Two steps forward, one step back.

February 4, 2012 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

It is a great idea to check with a wildlife rescue to take the meat. We have done that with sheep killed by a predator but not really eaten. If the sheep has not been dead too long they will take it. at least the meat would go to some use. and after it's frozen for a certain length of might not be that dangerous(???) especially for wildlife rescue. If the wildlife rescue is a non-profit they might actually give you a receipt for a tax donation. Just a thought. Hang in there, you are having a bad run of luck.

February 4, 2012 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Beckars said...

Jenna, you have made a wise decision and now the best thing is to let go and focus once again on the things that are within your control. Getting sick is not worth any dollar amount. You are a strong woman and you know life is a box of chocolates...this time you bit into one of those nasty butter fluff raspberry ones but there's a truffle in your future if you keep tasting :)

February 4, 2012 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger darius said...

There was an interesting post on the liver conditions of wild game here:

Correlation? Maybe, or perhaps not, but good information anyway.

It's a bite in the patootie for you, though. I'd be devastated as well as heartbroken.

February 4, 2012 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

Tiffnz-n-kidz said pretty much what I wanted to say: go with your gut. I wouldn't feel like the risk is worth eating it either. So sorry for this loss. A very hard lesson on many levels, but because you learned from it, it is most certainly not all a waste.
Take care, Jenna!

February 4, 2012 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

UGGGG! so feeling for you~ I kinda like merediths idea, if the butcher thinks its fine give it to him. I know you dont want the chance of anyone getting sick off your pigs but maybe hes done it many times and has a tolerance for liver bacteria?

February 4, 2012 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Meagan said...

So sorry to hear of your painful learning experience. I too learned that sometimes the animal can "go bad" while alive: one of my ducks was ill and the meat was no good, I only found out after painstakingly plucking it though. Nowhere near the level of lesson you got. It's the right choice, not serving it.

February 4, 2012 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger kaelak said...

Just joinin' the chorus to say:
1) that really sucks, I'm sorry Jenna
2) you're doing the right thing by not taking a risk
3) the butcher should have alerted you, kept the meat separate, and you might want to ask for some remittance.

You paid for a lesson learned. :( Onward and upward!

February 4, 2012 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Jenna, before you throw out the meat, check with Walter from Sugar Mountain Farm in Vermont. He's an expert on raising pigs and he may have some advice.

February 4, 2012 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Mindy said...

Hey Jenna -

That totally blows. I know how much hard work you put into raising your pigs, having raised pigs myself, and what you look forward to and remind yourself of when you're lugging water is how you'll have a freezer full of meat at the end. I'm so sorry that you didn't get that outcome this time, but you'll be all the more prepared next time.

Best of lucky for your future pigs / farming endeavors.

February 4, 2012 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Tina - Our Rustic Roots said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to read this. I haven't read all the responses, but I, too, wonder why the butcher didn't take precautions to stop or separate once it was found.

February 4, 2012 at 6:17 PM  
Blogger hlbrack said...

Sorry to hear this, Jenna! I think you are doing the right thing, though. Sometimes it's better off not taking the risk, especially when it comes to your health and the health of those you care about. Just think of it as a lesson learned for next time. Keep your chin up!

February 4, 2012 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger Walter Jeffries said...

Don't throw the meat away. Keep it in the freezer while you investigate the situation.

1) Worst case is some horrid infectious disease that kills everyone on the planet. Unlikely.

2) Next is an infectious disease you don't want in your compost pile.

3) If you really decide the meat is not edible then compost it. Make a layer of about 1' to 18" of saw dust, straw, wood shavings or other carbon, spread out the meat, layer on an additional foot or two of carbon, cover with pallets to keep out dogs and others. All this to compost for four months. At that point you can flip the pile of you want or you can just let it continue to age. I compost 800 lb and even larger sows and boars who die on the farm. This returns the valuable nutrients to the soil.

4) By continuing to freeze the meat you will likely kill off any parasites or disease organisms. This is why you should keep investigating to decide what this is. One possible thing is parasitic worms which may leave white spots in the liver. Some also leave cysts in the muscles which can be observed. These can be too small to observe by the naked eye in the intestines. Sufficient deep long freezing kills most of these things. Do more research to learn about it. You may be able to save the meat.

Of course, it is not worth getting a disease but don't panic, yet. It may be that the meat is okay.

I wish you the best.

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:

February 4, 2012 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I'm so sorry Jenna. I think you're doing the right and responsible thing by not eating the meat, even though it's painful. At least the pigs lived and died in the best of circumstances, which is more than I can say for all the spoiled grocery store pork that gets tossed in the trash every day.

February 4, 2012 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

So sorry to hear that, do you think you could save some of it by pressure cooking it!

February 4, 2012 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger Jedediah said...

I'm sorry, this is awful news. I think I would do the same in your position (and feel just as bad), but it's not worth getting anyone sick.

February 5, 2012 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger jim said...

jenna- sorry-have the meat destroyed-do not bury it on your farm for something to dig up or contaminate a water supply-to err on the side of caution is the right way to go- Hats off to you for making all the right decisions with this.

February 5, 2012 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger jim said...

jenna- sorry-have the meat destroyed-do not bury it on your farm for something to dig up or contaminate a water supply-to err on the side of caution is the right way to go- Hats off to you for making all the right decisions with this.

February 5, 2012 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Thank you Walter. It is still in the freezer, well most of it. The organs have all been tossed. And while I think you are right, too many people smarter than I have told me the only 100% safe route is throwing it out. I hate that choice, more than anyone else out there, I promise. But the stress of risk is a stress I do not need. And if anyone ever got sick, really sick, off something bartered or shared from my farm it would destroy us in integrity, reputation, and worst of all: I'd feel horrible for what I caused another person.

Thank you all who donated a little here and there. It made a HUGE difference in attitude for me. I felt like the slate was wiped clean. I'll get a piglet or two in the spring.

February 5, 2012 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Monster Librarian said...

Oh, Jenna! That is so sad. I am so sorry for all that hard work wasted.

February 5, 2012 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Karen Smith said...

Jenna, I'm so sorry! We are about to get our first pigs this year, so I can only imagine the depth of your feelings on this.... but I have a good imagination. Hang in there, girl. You are doing a marvelous job, even if it doesn't feel like it right now. Chin up and soldier on.

February 6, 2012 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...

I just read ALL the comments this time. I seldom post twice but I must say again: please TOSS ALL OF THIS MEAT if there is a question of safety. Don't leave it in the freezer...simply for fear of leaving a package behind or getting it mixed up with a good one and cooking it! I've been a Registered Nurse many years and have taken care of enough seriously ill people from food poisoning (and the family mentioned earlier) to know it isn't worth the risk!

February 6, 2012 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

Damn...sorry that you're going through this :(

February 6, 2012 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Sorry to hear about your meat. That's quite a hit to take, but your decision to throw it away is very likely the right one. I send all my animals to a USDA certified butcher. Yes, it's more expensive. Yes, it stresses the animal out a bit at the end, but I eat the meat with absolute confidence, knowing it was inspected. They also shrink-wrap and label all the packages so each animals meat has its own identity. But that's just me. Many folks want to do it themselves and I applaud them for it.

February 8, 2012 at 8:58 AM  

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