We killed a pig by accident, no happy ending on this one

Yesterday we continued our plan of reducing out numbers of pigs on the farm. The plan for yesterday was to get another full load of hogs on the trailer and make another drop off at the sale barn. After that full trailer load, we’d take a head count and see exactly where we are. We have a few pigs going other directions (like the freezer) and if we are in the 40-45 range after this load we’ll be good for now to let things settle down and see how things run.

We loaded all the pigs from one paddock into the trailer, except for one hard headed pig who just wouldn’t go. There is always one.

So we moved to another paddock where we had some smaller pigs and some monster pigs. Of course they wouldn’t load the normal way.

Pigs getting onto the pig trailer
Pigs getting onto the pig trailer

Normally we pull the trailer along the fence line, drop the trailer to the ground, put some food on the trailer, and the pigs jump right on. Easy and quick. Except these pigs wouldn’t cross the line where the gate was. They wouldn’t load. Miguel suggested we take the trailer into the paddock and maybe they would load that way. Except it’s really muddy. And there are trees everywhere. And the tractor and trailer isn’t exactly nimble. Nevertheless we went in and sure enough three pigs jumped on. Not the monster pig we wanted, he was too smart and wouldn’t even think about it. Oh well, we closed them up and Miguel elected me to get the tractor back out of the maze of trees. After multiple false starts I finally made it to a point where I could turn around, except I’d need to knock over a standing dead tree. All the limbs were off of it and it wasn’t that tall so no big deal. I check the area where it would fall and gave it a shove with the tractor.

Enter from stage left, our “smart” monster pig. He ran straight past the front of the tractor and right into the path of the tree. I’m yelling at him to no avail. The tree, now in full fall, hits him right in the back, hard. He went down with a broken back, I knew immediately. There wasn’t even time to be mad/sad/or anything else at this point.

We loaded our last pigs on the trailer and fed this group of pigs first so they other pigs would leave this pig alone. Yes, they were already harassing him, jumping on him and biting at him. He went from the big bad boy in the paddock to the injured one. The meanness from the other pigs was immediate and unrelenting. Pigs are not nice. It’s not like in the movies.

Once everyone reset from the morning, we had the scald tank hot enough to scald a hog, all the pig processing gear was prepped, ¬†and we’d found a family who wanted some free pork (thanks Miguel), we all went out to the paddock and dispatched our injured pig. That’s my job since I’m the gun guy. A quick cut of the jugular a hoist to drain and then brought him back to the barnyard to begin the process of turning him from pig to pork.

Scraping the hair off of the pig
Scraping the hair off of the pig

Since we were giving away the pork, we let our family from Honduras do most of the prep work. This guy was probably 450 lbs and bigger than our scald tank so we had to scald him one bucket of water at a time and do a lot of scraping.

This entire event was unfortunate but there was one silver lining. SWMBO and Tamara (Hi Ladies!) both had asked me for some pig parts for their home school classes this fall. The USDA will not let me have internal organs back from the processor, even though it’s my pig. It’s very frustrating, but the only solution was to process a hog on farm. Normally I’d wait till fall when it was cooler and maybe we’d have a BBQ. However today was the day due to this accident.

Cutting out the heart and lungs
Cutting out the heart and lungs, carefully!

Once we had the pig scalded, scraped, and ready, I went to work on gutting him. The liver we kept for the family from Honduras. The intestines went into a clean trash can. The kidneys went on a pan to keep for the ladies for school, and then I went to work on getting the heart and lungs out intact and undamaged. It took about 15 minutes but eventually I was able to get them out whole. This makes for a much better experience when you are learning about how organs work. Apparently I was the talk of co-op last time we did this because fresh organs are so much better to work with than ones soaked in formaldehyde. Since I recall dissecting a frog in school and how awful that was, I can totally understand.

So nobody’s day went as planned yesterday, especially the pigs. But we did get 16 pigs off of the farm. That should leave us with about 50 I think but we are getting a head count this morning. Since we are taking pigs to the processor next week anyway, I will see how many we have left and decide what we are doing next then. I’d like to avoid another day like yesterday if at all possible. It was no bueno.

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