15 November 2012

Hog Harvest!

Here we are, already midway through November and the temperature is dropping.  The weather is crazy as evidenced by Super Duper Ultra Storm of the Century until next year "Sandy."  I do hope everyone in the New York tristate area is doing well.  I half-joked to some of my friends through e-mail that the hurricane was evidence that everyone needs to move to Maine to ensure their food security and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.  The unpredictability of the weather does speak to the effects of global warming, how populous we are as a species, and how vulnerable we really are despite humanity's collective effort to make us invincible.

Being up here in Maine while my friends and family are in New York City does make me think (and I hope everyone else) more closely about food security and being safe.  Resupplying and rebuilding large parts of the metropolitan area comes at great expense to the environment; think of all the stuff that now needs to be removed, disposed of, manufactured, replaced, and installed in one house.  Then multiply that by thousands.  Also most of that stuff was dunked in corrosive salt water which then ends up back in the ocean.

Besides that, I thought about what food might be available and the great cost in energy and resources it takes to transport it outside of the more efficient distribution system in place.  Sure, Ramen noodles can keep you going for a while, canned foods are good, but there are a lot of people in New York City and not all have the means or wherewithal to plan ahead for a disaster like that.  I for one feel a bit safer out here in the boonies.

In other news, the 8 pigs Kate and I raised are no longer in our hands.  After many lost nights of sleep for myself thinking about the little details of getting the pigs in a small trailer and pulling it out with the horses Pete and Jewel, we got it done.  The area that the pigs were in was not very accessible and to use my 4WD Tacoma would risk being underpowered (pulling close to 2 tons of trailer and pig) and getting it stuck in a muddy area.  To initially get the trailer there I had to harness and warm the horses up by trotting them up and down the road hooked to a forecart.  I even walked them around in the area the pigs were in to familiarize them with the noise they make and the terrain.  Together we were able to pull the trailer through a rough dip and turn it around so that we could set up fencing leading to the back of the trailer.  That was the easy part.

The pigs immediately liked the trailer so Kate and I had an easy time getting 6 pigs in and leaving two pigs behind to process ourselves.  That same frosty morning we were ready to deliver them, we quickly harnessed Pete and Jewel and warmed them up.  They could probably sense our anxiousness and seemed a bit anxious themselves although it could've been that they had energy to get out from standing around in the stalls all night and had just eaten grain.  Kate and I hooked the forecart to the trailer and off we went.  The trailer was pretty much lined up to go out of the area over the very dipped culvert. 

The horses made it out to the road with the trailer about to go over the dip and then...Pete balked.  He stood like a statue for a minute and I couldn't get him to go any further.  I tried to ignore the distracting hunters driving by while trying not to get frustrated.  Another minute passed by where Kate and I both thought we may have gotten the trailer stuck in a very hard place.  We started thinking of the option of hooking up Molly instead or pulling from experience, unhitching the horses from the forecart and walking them around for a little while to help them further distance themselves from the hard task.  Horses will sometimes balk if they have a history of pulling a hard load and "learning" they can't pull it and therefore losing confidence in their ability.  Usually they can definitely pull it; it's just a matter of the team starting the load at the same time.

After a couple of minutes of both horses prancing and trying to feel for a way out of the situation and Pete still refusing to move on my command, I sensed that Pete's confidence had returned somewhat.  I once more asked Pete and Jewel to step up and in a wave of relief, they easily walked the trailer out of the dip and we continued on our merry way.  I was so elated I could hardly believe it and had quite an adrenaline rush and comedown for awhile.  Everything else after that was cake.

Yes, this is an actual pork chop we cut up.  Yes, that is Kate's hand.  We did trim the fat.
I will hopefully be writing another elated post about where we will be farming next year.  A post about butchering maybe too.  Until then we will be enjoying some nice, homemade sausage, lard, bacon, and more!