The Farm Report: Pounds ‘O’ Pork, and Chicken Killer IV

The hogs have returned home in the form of pork – lots and lots of pork.

Chareva drove down to the processing facility today to pick up the meat, which included roughly:

  • 100 pounds of sausage
  • 25 pounds of ribs
  • 5 pounds of picnic roast
  • 5 pounds of tenderloin
  • 50 pounds of pork loin
  • 35 pounds of pork shoulder
  • 40 pounds of ham steak
  • 25 pounds of back fat (from which we’ll render lard)
  • 30 pounds of Boston Butt

I’m pretty sure those hogs were never anywhere near Boston, so I don’t know how we got all that Boston Butt out of them.  I also don’t know what Boston Butt is.  I guess I’ll find out. In the meantime, it’s safe to say we’ll be eating rather a lot of pork this year.

We celebrated with a meal that almost qualified as farm-to-forks. Chareva made meatloaf that included ground beef, sausage, eggs and sage. Only the ground beef came from a store. (We ran out of ground beef from the grass-fed cow we split with The Older Brother.)

She also cooked up some Swiss Chard from her garden. Man, that’s good stuff.

As I’ve said before in interviews, a lot of us remember our grandmothers as fantastic cooks. Grandma probably was a good cook, but I think food quality had a lot to do with it. When Chareva plucks some vegetables from her garden and cooks them up for dinner, the flavor is amazing. A little oil, a little salt, and suddenly Swiss Chard is the most delicious thing ever. I suspect our bodies sense the nutrient density and interpret it as deliciousness.

Given the way her garden looks so far, we’ll enjoy quite a few delicious meals this summer.

On a less cheery note, we lost an egg-laying chicken. For more than week, some critter was getting into the hoop house where we keep chicken feed and enjoying a free meal. I suspected it was a raccoon, since we keep the feed inside a garbage can with a lid that requires a good pull to remove.

I’m okay with losing some chicken feed, but I figured given enough time, a raccoon would probably find a way into one of the chicken yards. So I set the spring-door trap that’s snagged two other raccoons.

The danged critter wouldn’t go into the trap for the can of cat food. Instead, he reached through the side and pulled out the food — three times, on three different nights. I tried creating a protective mesh around the trap with wire and nylon twine to force him to go inside, but he outsmarted me. He managed to tug and chew his way through the mesh to get to the food. Apparently he knew walking into the trap was a bad idea.

Two days ago, he found a low spot on the ground and tunneled his way into a chicken yard for a chicken dinner. Chareva spotted the mauled chicken while we were doing some work out there.  It’s always annoying to lose a chicken to a predator, but doubly annoying when a raccoon kills the bird, eats a few ounces of meat, then leaves a bloody carcass behind.  We tossed the carcass in one of our front pastures.  It was gone the next day.  Yup, there’s some nightlife in these parts.

We have some heavy branches sitting around that I cut into sections after a storm knocked them down, so I placed one of those against the bottom of the fence to discourage more tunneling. Since the trap wasn’t working, we picked up a spring-loaded contraption that closes on the critter’s hand if he reaches into it for food. We baited it with a sardine and attached it to a fence near the chicken yards.

Sure enough, as I was watching TV late last night, I heard the dogs run out and bark like crazy at the back of their fenced-in area. Well, we caught something, I thought.

The something was indeed a raccoon. I didn’t enjoy sending him to raccoon heaven, but it was him or the chickens.

That’s life in the country.

p.s. — I received an email from someone at a Japanese TV network who wants to do an interview for a news segment about Chareva the Snake Handler.  I’m starting wonder if Chareva is the only woman in the world who ever picked up a snake.


50 thoughts on “The Farm Report: Pounds ‘O’ Pork, and Chicken Killer IV

  1. JansSushiBar

    Boston butt is pork shoulder; I’m not sure why it’s called that myself.

    Crock pot with onions and chicken stock; pulled pork. Have a smoker? Even better.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      We don’t have a smoker, but it may be a worthwhile investment at this point.

      Somebody somewhere in history must have thought people in Boston have butt-like shoulders …

      1. Kathy in Texas

        You can spend a fortune on a smoker, or do as I did and get the Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker, which is available on Amazon for $179, although from the pics of your pork haul, you may need a larger one. No reason to get the one with the glass door. It will not be see-thru past a couple of uses. There is a stand for $50, not necessary but I have one to save bending over so far to access the goodies inside. I don’t know if Amazon offers extended warranties, but I would buy from someone who does. They are not pricey and I had to use mine. About 12 – 14 months in, it wouldn’t stay on. Sent it in (keep the box!) and got a brand new smoker out of the deal. Unless you (or Chareva) are a master meat smoker, get an electric smoker for the temp control. I never mastered charcoal temp control and it has to be monitored. This one, just “set it and forget it”, other than after a couple of hours start checking that you still have smoke. There is this neat little tube you turn and pull out, load with some chips and push it back inside and dump it. No need to open the door and mess up the temp.

        Sorry if I sound like a salesperson. I’m just really happy with my smoker.

          1. Bruce B

            I have used the Masterbuilt electric smokers before. They are great little smokers. I would get the widest one they make so you don’t have to cut you’re rib racks in half to get them to fit in the shelf.

  2. Andrea

    Boston Butt is just pork shoulder on the bone, if I recall correctly.

    If we lived anywhere near each other, I might suggest a barter! I’ll be picking up my half a steer from a local all-natural, grassfed beef farmer. Enjoy all that wonderful meat!

    I just have to say that I’ve been following your move to the country with a lot of interest, despite rarely posting. I live in Northern VA, but most of the state outside the DC circle is rural. I’m lobbying my family for a move to the country (all of a half-hour away) to start a little hobby farm with chickens, goats, and rabbits. My husband has told me that first I have to prove I can keep house plants arrive before he’ll help me put a garden up, and then I have to keep that alive at least one or two seasons.

    So far, I have not passed the first test….

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I hope you pass that test. Moving to a hobby farm was Chareva’s idea, and I’m grateful every day she pushed for it.

  3. Galina L.

    I saw the episode with Chareva and snake in Entertainment tonight.
    Boston butt it is the perfect roast part from a shoulder. It usually contains a shoulder blade.

  4. Barbara

    Living in the RV, while building our house, we kept finding a pile of dog food on the ground. One night the dogs were going crazy so I looked out the window with a flashlight and saw the culprits. Raccoon’s have an opposable thumb, one was prying up the lid, when it came loose the two of them would push over the 50 lbs of dog food and then the whole troop would come and feed. Had to move the dog food into the RV. As for things trying to tunnel under the fence, we lined the bottom of the fence with an electric fence wire, when they touched or tried to come in they were zapped. It did a good job for us.

  5. Tomer

    very nice indeed! i wish my freezer had enough room to store so much meat. i usually eat chicken and beef… kinda hard to get good pork here.

  6. Bob Fenton

    My mother handled snakes on the farm since my father could not with only one hand. Garter snakes and corn snakes and one other that she helped take out of my gopher trap since I was afraid of them at the time. I did use the axe once she had it laid out on the ground.

    We always found the garter snakes in the garden and all she would do was grab it with one hand, stand up and throw it out of the garden. I never did hear a scream and Dad said he had not either. He did say that her father had when she was younger.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’m sure lots of farm wives have picked up snakes, but not with a camera rolling and a husband laughing.

      We’ve both picked up snakes in the house before, but they were little ones, less than a foot long.

  7. Linda

    What a haul with all that pork! I’m trying to live vicariously, but I think maybe the jealously part may be sneaking in! I keep reminding myself that it took real work to raise those hogs to the point of all that lovely meat for the freezer!

    As for Boston Butt, it is pork shoulder, cut with a blade bone in. I don’t even own a slow cooker, but found this turns into a very tender, delicious piece of meat if I first salt and pepper it, brown it on all sides in coconut oil in my heavy cast iron Dutch oven, then pour in a couple of cups of chicken broth, cover and cook lowly and slowly till tender. It will work on top of the stove or in the oven. If I’m wanting pulled pork, I just cook till I can reach in and shred some with a fork. I’ve reverted to using it mostly for a pork roast since I no longer eat the buns I used to heap pulled pork on. That roast would be delectable with some of Chareva’s fresh cut chard and a sweet potato!

    Chareva may not be the only woman who ever picked up a snake, but she well may be the only one who had a husband in the background who filmed it while laughing hysterically!

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      We didn’t do bacon. It had something to do with the curing time, but I don’t remember the details.

      1. ngyoung

        No pork belly? That is the part traditional bacon is made from anyways and you could always send it back in to a butcher to cure for you or try out yourself. Also cooks up nice on it’s own to add to a dish, most often cubed and fried.

  8. Drew

    Two things. First, I don’t see bacon on that list. WTF?

    Second, be prepared for the fact that after years of doing this thing on a pretty regular basis, putting in more hours than you want to count, the most press you’re ever going to get is a completely unplanned video of your wife screaming at a snake.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yeah, we’ve talked about that. I spend countless hours on a documentary, write hundreds of posts, write and deliver speeches … but my wife picks up a snake and she’s a TV star.

      No bacon. It was something to do with the curing time. I don’t remember the details.

      1. Jim from Maine

        Once you get a smoker, you’ll want the butcher to give you the bellies, or “sides” of your pigs. Curing bacon is very easy, and once you make your own, you’ll never want store-bought again.
        Btw…I’ve smoked a lot of food over the years, with various equipment. I’m a big fan of charcoal myself because I don’t think you can beat the flavor.
        I do a LOT of smoking on my Weber 22.5″ kettle grill. It’s actually a great tool for smoking small amounts of meat. I do two of the BIG oven-stuffer chickens at a time, and it’s perfect for doing Boston butts without much investment.
        If you don’t have one, you can usually pick one up on Craig’s List for about $50.


  9. Don in Arkansas

    Boston Butt is the best for pulled pork. You don’t need a fancy smoker to do it. A Weber kettle does a great job.

  10. Nancy Wilson

    Your wife probably isn’t the first woman to pick up a snake , but she’s definitely the most charming & photogenic. That video was awesome & Thanks for sharing it.

  11. Stephen T.

    Tom, have you seen this? Some real science on diabetes and nutrition to gladden the heart.

    The paper is called ‘Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base’. The article is dated January 2015.

    There are a number of distinguished authors beginning with Richard D. Feinman and Wendy Pogozelski.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Processing came out to maybe $1.50 per pound of finished meat. I have no idea what we spent on feed.

  12. Glorificus

    Tom this is almost completely unrelated but since you’re now a rural farmer-type I figure you must automatically love banjos, and by extension banjo covers. (You rural types are all the same).
    Click on my name to listen to a pretty damn good instrumental banjo cover of a Metallica song… (btw my name is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference)
    That guy also made a Game of Thrones opening theme cover

    1. Glorificus

      Too bad there’s no edit button, but what you see up there is my attempt at humour & getting you to defend your newfound hillbilly ways against us cityfolks…

      Since I have your attention allow me to recommend a few random books for you: Ever heard of Larry Correia? I’m reading his Monster Hunter International & Grimnoir books; the first MHI book is free on kindle.

      Also ever read what the greek/roman philosophers had to say about life? i.e. stoicism, epicurianism, etc?

      I figure you might be interested… here’s two youtube videos summing up stoicism (actually summing up Seneca’s book On Anger) & epicurus’ philosophy

  13. Elenor

    Mon-oh-man! Looking at the pix of Chareva and the freezer-full, my first reaction was: “hey everyone! Dinner is at the Naughton’s! For the next few weeks!! See yah there!”

    (Oh, but y’all are probably armed right? With snakes, at least! {wink})

  14. Becky

    i love pork….steak though. but ooops!! i dont know how to make it my self,i always place an order at the nearest pork center. they made me love pork.

  15. The Older Brother

    The cure time for bacon is only another week or so. When we had our hog processed, they just held the rest of the meat in their freezer until we picked up the whole lot (didn’t want to make two 40 mile hikes).

    If you get bacon made next time, you might was to ask if the can process it “uncured.”

    Sounds like an oxymoron, right? I saw uncured bacon the first time at the farmer’s market a couple of years ago at a “Salatin style” vendor’s booth and asked about the difference. The proprietor explained that “uncured” bacon is still treated, but with celery juice instead of commercially produced sodium nitrite.

    The celery juice contains sodium nitrite, also, but since you can’t determine the exact dose and concentration, the government says you can’t call it cured.

    I took the “uncured” on the assumption that anything that pisses off the USDA is probably better for you than the stuff their owners want you to buy. I’d guess there’s really no health difference — sodium nitrite doesn’t care where it comes from. I just felt better eating the version that you don’t have to build a factory to process.


  16. Sandi

    I am wondering if the ‘women should fear snakes’ notion is cultural. A number of years ago during a vacation stop in Carins, Australia, I rode the Kuranda Scenic Railway up to the rainforest above Cairns. While sitting in the rail car winding our way up the mountain, a Japanese TV crew suddenly appeared and I had a camera in my face and a Japanese reporter asking me ‘Arent you afraid of snakes?’. The appearance of the camera and the question were so surprising to me that I just mumbled ‘What? No.’ They quickly moved on looking for a better sound bite from a snake-fearing woman on the train.

  17. Rita L

    Check out this homemade smoker. It’s just my hubby and I so we don’t need this much smoking capability. https// There are a number of these video’s on


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