Remember a few weeks ago, we said goodbye to the pigs? This week, we said hello to some delicious pork. The place we took them called to say they were ready (it took a little longer because we wanted some parts smoked). The really fun thing about getting the pork back was that we finally got some numbers. Together, the pigs’ hanging weight was 414 pounds (we didn’t get a live weight, unfortunately). Out of that, we got about 325 pounds of what most people consider “meat” (roasts, ground, etc). We also got the liver, heart, and tongue (about 10 pounds) and the bones (another 12 pounds) and the fat (almost 25 pounds). So far, we’ve had bacon and ham and they’re both really good.
We did learn some things in getting our pigs processed. We learned that “Do you want your hams sliced?” does not mean “Do you want your hams spiral sliced?” It means “Do you want your hams turned into steaks?” So we have two whole hams that have been sliced into steaks and, honestly, it makes them a lot more accessible than a whole ham. I’m not sure how upset I am about that mistake. The other thing we learned is that we don’t want just chops. I don’t know much about parts of meat, but from what I understand, the chops are with the loin, so we didn’t get any loin roasts. So we have 70+ pounds of chops and no loin roasts. Oh well. Finally, we learned that we should specify that we want as much of the shoulder roast as possible, even if it doesn’t make the size we say we want. We said 5-6 pound roasts and we got them. But there are no smaller roasts and we’re wondering if some of the roast got turned into ground.
All that isn’t to say that we were dissatisfied with our experience. As far as I can tell (having only ever had these two animals done), they did a really nice job and we were just so novice that we didn’t know how to ask for what we wanted. The guy who helped us unload our pigs was the same one who helped me carry the meat to the truck so it could be packed into coolers (another story altogether, which I’ll get to in a minute). He also helped us navigate the cuts questions and I don’t blame him for our not understanding – I really do feel like they tried to help us out. It’s just hard to think everything that people might not know if you are really familiar with something. And we assumed some things that, looking back, were pretty silly.
To get the pork, I borrowed coolers from several people. People I thought would have large coolers. As it turned out, only one of those coolers was as large as ours. Fortunately, one was larger to make up some of the difference. Anyway, since I needed to drop Q off at the vet, so I left early and I drove both 33 and 211 to get up to the processor. It was a beautiful drive…some of my favorite nearby roads, early morning (so fewer people), and a really pretty day.
When I got to the processor and they started pulling out my meat, I was a little worried that I’d overstocked on coolers – I just started loading up the coolers with the meat we carried out. As I was loading, I realized there were several cuts that weren’t represented. Then, he started bringing more trays from the cooler, I realized that we hadn’t brought too coolers. We were at least one large cooler short of enough. I had a stack of hams and fat on my front seat as I drove around trying to find a cooler that might possibly hold at least the ham. The truck stop gas stations had those little Styrofoam coolers, but nothing that would hold a 20 pound ham. Finally, I asked for the closest Walmart and the biggest cooler they had was one like the cooler in the top left of this picture. Not great, but better than having a ham riding around in the front seat of the truck. I put the stuff that didn’t fit in the floor under my extra long-sleeved shirts and drove home the fast route, instead of the fun route. Fortunately, everything was still completely frozen by the time I got it home and in the freezer.
We’re really excited to have our own pigs in the freezer and it’s been nice to have something to give people as a thank you. For the use of the coolers, for the care of our animals…whatever. Eggs are nice, but pork is something a little different. It’s pretty freaking cool.