A Pig’s Life: From piglet to pork-chop, Week 21

  • Pink 2.0 squishes in with the other pigs at Miles Smith Farm. Pink 2.0, who is by far the largest of his siblings, has hefted up and has a scheduled processing appointment for next Monday. ELODIE REED / Monitor staff

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

It’s scheduled. I – and by extension, all of you – will be saying goodbye to Pink 2.0 next Monday.

By pig processing standards, the time is ripe. As I poked my head into the pig shed at Miles Smith Farm early this past Monday morning before Carole Soule or her grain bucket had gotten there, about a dozen pigs squealed, oinked and cried in cacophony back at me. Looking at Pink 2.0 wedged in the middle of everyone, I think I said “wow” out loud in assessing his size.

He’s certainly not a piglet anymore.

Pink 2.0 is easily the largest of his siblings. This may be due to the slightly unfortunate fact that when he was castrated, one testicle proved elusive.

Today – rather obviously – it remains. When Soule arrived during my visit, Pink 2.0 was busy investigating some lady pigs.

“That’s why he’s gotta go,” she said. She added that by shipping him early, he hopefully he won’t have the “boar taint” in his meat, either.

I wondered whether more than that one thing (which Soule characterized as “ginormous”) made Pink 2.0 different in her mind. Has this series of stories made her look at this one pig differently?

Not necessarily, Soule said. While she feels an added pressure of the public knowing this pig’s life story, she said she’s also glad that the joint animal-farmer story is out there.

“I’m actually pleased we’re doing this,” she said. “The same attention we pay to Pink, we pay to all of our pigs. To have them in your bathtub the first night they’re born to keep them warm, but then to bring them to the butcher – I think it’s good for people who eat meat to know what it’s like to raise an animal.”

Soule added, “There are so many farmers that do this.”

She continued that she wished people would consider how local farmers like herself raise and slaughter pigs, versus industrial pork operations, where animal welfare groups have documented some pigs remaining conscious as they are processed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires animals to be stunned before being killed.

“If you know the farmer and you know the butcher the pig came from, you pretty much know they were humanely killed,” Soule said. “Basically, that’s why I’m farming – I want to know the animal.”

Though Soule said she doesn’t necessarily look at processing Pink 2.0 any differently than the other pigs she raises – “it’s hard with every animal” – she did note that she doesn’t usually have to weigh a 100-pound plus pig on a bi-weekly basis.

“That’s been the only challenge,” she said, smiling as she remembered using a kitchen scale, holding Pink 2.0 on a human scale, and several times, lugging the big pig up to the other barn to use the farm scale. The measurements weren’t always perfect – this week’s measurement, for instance, is slightly revised due to a previous error.

“We have tried every which way to weigh,” Soule said.

Pink (2.0) Facts Week 21

Age: 20 weeks

Weight: Latest weighing last week, 150 pounds

Cost at this point: Previous cost ($287.50) + labor + feed = $316.24

(This article is part of an ongoing, six-month project by Ag & Eats blogger and “Monitor” staffer Elodie Reed, who is documenting “Pink 2.0” to see how locally raised pork is cared for, processed and eventually, consumed. Have questions or Ag & Eats news tips, events or recipes? Reed can be reached at 369-3306, ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter