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.