Monday, January 3, 2011

january 22nd

Just got off the phone with the butcher. A woman by the name of Vicki Frost, who lives in Northern Vermont will be coming to Cold Antler to not only slaughter the pig, but teach me every step of the process and wrap and prepare the meat on site. This will happen on January 22nd, just a few weeks from now.

Choosing a traveling butcher was important to me. It meant that Pig didn't have to go through the stress of being loaded in a trailer, held in a holding pen, confused and worried about how her world changed. While I understand the importance of a good slaughterhouse and the services they render, for just one pig it seemed like a big fuss. Instead the pig will die here in the place she has lived since she fit in a dog crate. Mrs. Frost will kill the pig with a single bullet from a rifle the animal will never see, and then together we'll hang and prepare the animal for the freezer. A station will be set outside with a santized table for the butcher work and another for wrapping. I was given a list of supplies and preparations, all very professional on Vicki's behalf. She's been doing this for over forty years and wants things to be as painless, respectful, and pleasant for all involved as possible. She's also excited I think to spend a day teaching. I'm happy to be her student.

So a big day isn't too far ahead.
A lot to prepare for, in more ways than one.


Blogger HotFlashHomestead said...

I watched a traveling butcher dispatch a pig where I was boarding my horse a few years ago, and it seemed a very humane and efficient way to handle it. The pig took the bullet and never knew what hit it, and it was fascinating listening to the butcher explain to me what parts would become bacon, pork loin, etc. as he worked on the carcass. I think you will feel very good about the whole process when all is said and done. Good animal husbandry!

January 3, 2011 at 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just butchered a whole pig (not mine) in my home. I learned a lot and would love to share my learnings with you. Let me know if you want to chat.

January 3, 2011 at 7:36 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

That's great, Jenna! If you ever want to trade some meat for something (I think it's illegal to "sell" it off the farm), count me in.

January 3, 2011 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger Stoney Creek Homestead said...

Is Pig even butcher weight?

January 3, 2011 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Vicki seemed amazing on the phone, and charges a fair rate. It's 200.00 for the travel, slaughter, butchering, and wrapping.

So, for anyone following this experiment economically—this will cost:

$60 for the pig
$48 dollars in grain and corn
many buckets of free scraps
a $25 hog panel to make the pen
4 bales of hay at $3.50 a bale
$200.00 for butchering and wrapping

it comes to $347 dollars for the 150 pound pig. Not sure what that will come to per pound, but even if it's alot, it was money spread out over time, slowly, and not a heavy hit to my own tight budget. The animal lived well, was my own for a time. That's worth a lot to me.

January 3, 2011 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

She is on the smaller size of butcher weight, usually pigs come in between 200-300+ but the cost of building another pen for her would be far more than the meat I would get from her, probably more than I spent on the entire process. Plus, I want her to be in the freezer well ahead of lambing time. This was the date that worked best for both parties, me and her.

I'll do more pigs again later, maybe next winter. And I'll have a bigger pen and larger animals now that I know exactly what fits into the process.

January 3, 2011 at 8:00 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

and elliecm, that link was fantastic!

January 3, 2011 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

(yes i'd like to chat!)

January 3, 2011 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

I'm just curious to know, now, why you became a vegetarian in the first place. I know and understand your reasons for giving it up, but I'm not sure if you ever said why you BECAME one. WOuld you share?

January 3, 2011 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Sure. I was in college, overweight, and knew nothing about food or where food came from. Being 21 and educated by books about animal welfare, factory farms, less fats in my diet, and the environment: I opted out of the commercial meat business. I didn't know about things like pastured meat. I had no idea a normal person could buy a pig from a farm (was that even legal?) and I was also a design student with out a lot of money in a very trendy life: vegetable sushi seemed easier, different, and I lost 30 pounds eating healthier.

It took a decade of education and experience to switch back. I still eat mostly meatless meals, but one of my personal goals for this year is to cut out meat I don't know. Ergo pigs and chickens.

People change. I think this is a better me.

January 3, 2011 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Jeff_in_Pawlet said...

If she uses a blow torch for the hair, the ears are a great snack while working! That's what we did in Hungary. Blood soup is probably too much for a recently converted vegetarian though.

January 3, 2011 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I think butchering pig right on the farm and not transporting her is a great idea. That will be a lot of pork for one woman to eat. Maybe pork to take home would be an enticement for your family to visit. Certainly would be for me.

January 3, 2011 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Oh sweet! A much better way for Pig to go- the best, I think. Good for you.

I'm also glad that you're going to get some training...I'm thinking you'll have less time to feel weird/bad for offing the pig. But I do think this way is much more respectful of the pig.

Ask Vicki about the caul fat- I've never gotten my hands on any, but it's supposed to be a great thing in which to wrap up less fatty cuts and cook them. I once had pig cheek in caul fat- it was delish!

January 3, 2011 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

I'd be curious to find out what the percentage ends up being from live weight to processed cuts. For some reason 60 percent sticks in my head.

January 3, 2011 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

well, let's see, even if it's half: 75 pounds of meat is a lot!!!

January 3, 2011 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

It's great to hear that this is the manner in which you chose to handle your meat processing. There was an article in the most recent edition of Small Farmer's Journal about the need for greater availability of on-farm meat processing in order to enable small farmers to handle slaughter and cutting in a manner as to ensure the quality of meat and to make value-added meat production more feasible for small farmers.

If you haven't heard of Small Farmer's Journal, take a look at the website. I think you'll like it.

January 3, 2011 at 8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember as a kid, we used to get a pig each year to raise for the meat. When we would bring it home, my dad would send me to our neighbors house to ask him to come down to castrate it. A little while later, Mr. Tindall would show up with his pocket knife, sharpening stone and small can of creosote. Mr. Tindall would castrate the pig and slap that creosote on the pig to keep the bugs away. Several months later, we would have a butchering and again Mr. Tindall and my dad would take care of that. We had a 55 gallon drum set up to scald the hog and did the butchering under the shade tree in the back yard. Learn all you can Jenna!! This will be a great experience for you!!

January 3, 2011 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thats great news! We butchered our two pigs ourselves (for the first time) the first week of Dec. I just finished rending the last of the lard. Nothing but great eating for the rest of the year and I like the pigs much better in the freezer. We raised them up cheap - its a great value and the quality is better than you can buy in a store. I've got detailed "how to notes" if you are interested or want to know what to expect. Click over if you want to check it out.

January 3, 2011 at 10:05 PM  
Blogger Tracy Bruring said...

You are so blessed to have this. I don't suppose someone could come and video tape the whole process so that a "series" of videos could be made could it?

January 3, 2011 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Stoney Creek Homestead said...

Usually you loose close 1/3 of live weight for dressed weight. So, if Pig weighs about 150 pounds you would get about 100 pounds of meat.

Are you going to render the fat? if you do, keep the fat near the kidneys. It is referred to as 'leaf lard' and it is the best for baking and cooking with. It keeps well in mason jars on the shelf in a cold room.

I bought a pig off of a friend, and we butchered it on Thanksgiving weekend (October for me)along with two spring lambs that I raised. I have another friend who has a little butcher shop on her farm and she helped me with the cutting, and my 19 yr old daughter helped with the wrapping. It was quite the experience.

January 3, 2011 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger Pidge said...

I feel like a freak asking this, but will you be taking pictures? I have it in my mind that even a well executed butchering turns into a blood bath and it keeps me from being able to even think about doing it at some point. I'd Google it, but I'm afraid of the pictures I'd come across. I definitely trust the quality of pictures you'd post!

January 3, 2011 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger RabbleRoost said...

I just went through this with a buck goat... My first ever "large" animal just happened to be my nice Boer guy. :( Hopefully he got at least one girl pregnant.

It was actually surprising how easy it was... I mean it was just like POP - dead - he fell, neck cut... Then he was skinned and hung for around two days, and we just finished cutting up the torso. Ugh I miss him already, but I've already noticed the girls acting calmer and more relaxed. Before he'd beat on the lowest ranking girl mercilessly. And now I don't have to worry about him trying to breed me or something. That guy was crazy.

I guess it had to be done at some point.

And truthfully, on-farm is the best way to go. They don't even know anything is happening and everything is as comfortable for the animal as possible before they go.

I read Sugar Mountain Farm blog too, may be something you're interested in? They raise many pastured pigs and have livestock guardian herding dogs and a bunch of other animals. :)
I think since they moved to a new server the site is ?

January 3, 2011 at 11:26 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

Wow, that was fast. Is Miss Piggy that big already?

I've used a local butcher who comes out to my place to do the kill as well. He can either butcher on site or take it back to his place to finish the job. I also appreciate not having to stress the lambs further by taking them away from home. It's quick and merciful.

That said, I still could not eat any of Sammy the Lambie with enjoyment. Gave away most of the meat to friends who did...

January 3, 2011 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

You've probably already been told, but don't feed Pig the day before. It makes the intestines easier to handle and then a little food on the ground will keep Pig occupied on butchering day. A calm pig at butchering won't have as much adrenaline in their meat and will taste much better.

I prefer to skin rather than scald and scrape. It's much easier and quicker.

It's nice to have the cold weather so you don't have to rush the butchering because of heat, but I like to be able to bury the entrails and blood so the coyotes can't get at them.

Even though I have a band saw (bought the slicer, band say, and grinder from a deli that went out of business), I prefer to remove the ribs from the loins and keep them whole. I cut them into chops just before cooking that why I haven't committed to certain cuts way ahead of time and a quick BBQ item in the summer.

I also do the curing and smoking, and bacon slicing myself. It's simple, cheap, and fun to experiment with. I would guess you already have everything you need to do this yourself.

After reading A Town That Food Saved (on your recommendation) I'm hoping to start a mobile slaughtering business in the near future.

I hope all goes well, I'm sure you'll do an awesome job!

January 3, 2011 at 11:34 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Outstanding! I can't wait to hear how this goes. Contingent upon the final dress out weight, it looks like you're spending between $3.50 and $4.50 per pound (roughly) for your pork. You could do a lot worse!

January 4, 2011 at 12:01 AM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

Since pig is on the small side, 50% meat is probably about right. There's more infrastructure (bones, organs, skin, etc) to meat ratio the smaller they are. I'll be interested to find out since I would like to try raising a pig myself this coming year.

January 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM  
Blogger sheila said...

The most expensive part of your Pig project is the butchering. If you are eventually able to do the butcher/processing yourself, then pork will be cheaper per pound to raise than chickens.

January 4, 2011 at 1:55 AM  
Blogger Cary said...

Have been thrilled to watch your project with pig this season. Please tell how you found Vicki Frost? Best of luck to youse :)

January 4, 2011 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I posted a note on the farm and garden section of Craigslist asking anyone if they new of a reputable and reasonable traveling butcher. Five people responded with her name!

January 4, 2011 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

Way to go finding a traveling butcher! I agree its the best way to go to minimize stress on the animal. I'm hoping that I can find a good reputable one out here, and based on that raise an animal this summer! Good idea about asking on Craigslist! I'll have to do that.

January 4, 2011 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger BlueGate said...

Great post, Jenna and wonderful responses. I was so pleased to read 30 immediate comments that so strongly support the humane harvesting of farm animals. Vegetarian or omnivore, its all about the awareness and care of what we eat.

If you are not thoroughly overwhelmed by the end, I'd recommend saving and rendering the lard...home-made lard is like gold and your pie crusts will love you for it!
Here's a good link from one of our neighbors for the safe and easy method that we use around here:

January 4, 2011 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

When I read this post, I was surprised that my eyes started stinging and tearing up a little. I am very excited for you and this learning opportunity. I guess it just hit me how serious it is to deliberately take a life of an animal. Since most of us never see the face of the meat we eat, it's so easy to not even think about the fact that they were once living, breathing, and hopefully happy animals. I am very glad that you are taking the effort to give Pig a respectful send off and that you will appreciate her meat with a grateful heart. I hope that I can do more of the same in the future.
Thanks for sharing and I will be interested to see how your lesson goes.

January 4, 2011 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I will be taking photos, but nothing graphic. I don't want to turn CAF into a horror movie set.

January 4, 2011 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

that's so exciting, i hope everything runs smoothly.

i was also do you manage your 3 dogs with free range chickens? are the huskies always on leash (i imagine so...being huskies after all)...what about gibson?

January 4, 2011 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger MIB said...

Another person who's glad to hear you found a way to stress Pig less by slaughtering at home. My husband helped a neighbor slaughter our two, and it definitely made a huge difference is peace of mind to them and to us. Best wishes for this big step in your farming experience.

January 4, 2011 at 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Butchering! (or fondly referred to Butcherin' around here) was/is always a great time for a good old get - together with snackums and sweet treats. If you do it again, and want to do it yourself, I suggest having some friends over to help you out- it can be a big job to butcher a large pig by yourself.


January 4, 2011 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger hlbrack said...

Very much looking forward to hearing about this whole experience, Jenna. You are going to love all that home grown meat! And it's great, too, that Pig has been so well taken care of throughout all this. She's a fortunate pig. Best of luck!

January 4, 2011 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Ah, a bullet. That seems much easier to handle that the throat-slitting I was imagining! It seems like having Pig around for such a short time may make it easier to see her go.

From all the comments, it looks like the high end of your cost would be $4.50/lb. Which makes our local farmers' $5 per lb seem pretty dang reasonable! Add in anything else you're using like bones and lard, and that'll improve your price ratio, too. Sounds like a successful little project to me!

January 4, 2011 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger E said...

How much meat is half a hog?

January 4, 2011 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...

wow! that was so fast. can't wait to hear about the butchering.

January 4, 2011 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna I would so love to be there for that class. You are getting a marvelous education on Cold Antler Farm.

January 4, 2011 at 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you aren't planning to go to the NOFA-VT Winter Conference in Feb, you should! There's going to be a basic butchering workshop that'll take a (real) calf from whole through primal cuts, and a bunch of other great stuff and camaraderie.

January 4, 2011 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

I really respect what you're doing. Thank you for sharing it with us.

January 4, 2011 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger jules said...

Good on you, Jenna. Kiss that pig and dream of bacon. She's a good Pig.

January 4, 2011 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger Mim said...

Oh my, does this bring back memories...must find pics of my first pig butchering...I love getting food in my pantry that I've grown or raised. It's hard work but it's good and honorable work. Being a city gal before I married TrapperDude, he wasn't so sure if I could handle it but three cheers to me, I didn't even get woozy! I did learn a very good lesson, for me anyways: if you're going to eat it, don't name it. Wilbur was tasty but that first pork chop was hard to get down ;)

January 4, 2011 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger The Real Nani said...

A good move, I think. Have you Farm City? The author talks about how she took her pig to a slaughterhouse and was dismayed by how her pig was treated, and how her own wishes were disregarded.

Looking forward to reading more about the process!

January 4, 2011 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Mim said...

Oh Trapper wanted me to tell you if you want to make sausages go to and get their book, "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing" by Rytek Kutas. Best recipe book we ever got and they have all the stuff you need for making sausages and cured meats. We've made braunscheiger, Polska Kielbsas, Italian and breakfast sausage, chorizo,, we need another pig here!
Homegrown pigs have such a better taste then store wild pig? I consider them the tastiest :)

January 4, 2011 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger i am pam said...

you amaze me. this is the big time in my eyes. I look forward to the story - journey you will share.

January 4, 2011 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger KellyV (Kelly the Fifth) said...

Jenna, the only thing I will add is to the comment about leaf lard. It is highly treasured by some bakers as it makes baked goods (pies, raisin filled cookies, etc.) incredibly flaky. It is very difficult to purchase for the average person - I have only heard of one internet site in the East that sells it. Take care.

January 4, 2011 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Tina thank you! My friends are sending me a sausage grinder as a barter! I'll try it for sure!

January 4, 2011 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger Cindi said...

I saw this quote on the Greenfire Farms site and thought you might enjoy it...

"I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
— Winston Churchill

January 4, 2011 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Jenna, when exactly did you get Pig? I am wondering because I am getting 2 in a few days and want this to go as fast as possible. It seems like just last week you got her. I hope it's that fast for mine!

January 4, 2011 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Mim said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 5, 2011 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Mim said...

I forgot to include my link...trying to wean myself off of caffiene...
but what i meant to say was:
since i think of things in the middle of the's a link to our polska kielbasa adventures...recipe included :)

they were awesome. none left in the freezer, little 'piggies' that we are ;)

January 5, 2011 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Odd Ducks Farm said...

Sadly, the last traveling butcher in the Spokane area went out of business a few years ago. To get any butchering done, we have to take our animals to the butcher, not the other way around. Of course, with larger animals, that's fairly impractical, but it still works. We miss the trailer, though.

January 5, 2011 at 12:27 PM  

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