I got a call from Clare the other day saying that Don and Roger were growing much faster than she expected and would reach their ideal slaughter weight a couple of weeks before she'd anticipated.
After playing some piggy tag with them, Clare suggested feeding them some of the blackberries from the bushes just outside the pasture. Now, these are big animals, at least three times the size of the biggest dog I've played with. Even Walker has surprised well-meaning guests when they've proferred a treat and in his excitement he's taken their whole hand into his mouth.
But when I offered Roger a juicy blackberry, rather than chomping down, he gently took it from my fingers with his lips and swallowed, grunting appreciatively. After several more he ran off to play with Don, who'd decided that he was through with this dainty exercise and had gone to the grain bucket for some real chow.
measuring him with string. Yes, you heard me right. You take a five foot or so length of string, put one end between your pig's ears and run it down his back to the base of his tail (illustration, right), then mark it with tape or a knot. Then you measure his girth by putting the string around him just behind his front legs. Measure the marks on the string with a tape measure, use the following formula and you'll get a weight that Clare has found accurate (on pigs…not so much on people or dogs) to within five pounds:
Weight (lbs) = (Length x Girth x Girth) ÷ 400 (inches)
Which put Don at about 285, making Roger's weight around 270, confirming her suspicion that they were going to be ready for slaughter any time in the next couple of weeks.
posole verde the other day, made with pork shoulder that had been simmered for several hours till it was fall-apart tender. Served with rice and a cabbage slaw it was fabulous. I no more thought about the pig that shoulder came from than I thought about the plant the tomatillos came from.
Which is where this whole thing gets complicated. I find myself thinking at odd moments about Roger, who's definitely a people-oriented guy, and I'm getting kind of attached to him for just that reason. It's hard thinking he's going to be killed in just a couple of weeks and I'm frankly not looking forward to being there.
Having been through this several times before, Clare says she find it helps to replace the sadness with feelings of gratitude, so I'll be working on that in the coming days. I'll keep you posted.
Read the other posts in this series: Roger and Me, Saying Goodbye, The Day Finally Comes, The Meat of the Matter and Pasture to Plate.