A Pig’s Life: From piglet to pork-chop, Week 1

By on Feb 17, 2016 in A Pig's Life, Stories |

Share On GoogleShare On FacebookShare On Twitter

(Note: Elodie Reed will follow “Pink” the piglet over the next six months to document how locally raised pork is cared for, processed and, eventually, consumed. Check the Food section and food.concordmonitor.com for updates every two weeks).

Sarah the sow gets up Monday after feeding one of her piglets, nicknamed "Pink," in the shed at Miles Smith Farm in Loudon. Pink, who is just over a day old in this photograph, is being raised for meat over the next six months. (ELODIE REED/ Monitor staff) - ELODIE REED | Concord Monitor

Sarah the sow gets up Monday after feeding one of her piglets, nicknamed “Pink,” in the shed at Miles Smith Farm in Loudon. Pink, who is just over a day old in this photograph, is being raised for meat over the next six months. (ELODIE REED/ Monitor staff)

I received a somewhat grim call from Loudon farmer Carole Soule Saturday. Her sow, Sarah, was about to have her piglets on the coldest day of the winter.

“They may not survive,” Soule told me. “But,” she added, “that’s part of farming.”

She had agreed to notify me when Sarah was about to give birth so that I could begin a new project documenting how a pig that is intended for pork is raised.

Looking down at the 12 piglets Sunday and keeping an eye on my “chosen one” – the only all-pink female, who I’m calling “Pink” for the purpose of this project – bacon, ham and pork-chops were the furthest things from my mind. The piglets were all quite precious as they nursed from Sarah, squealing and scuttling off to their heated, blocked off section of the pen to snuggle and to avoid being squashed by their 500-pound mother once they had had their fill.

But, as Soule said, death – as well as new life – is part of farming. And when meat is involved, it’s also a core component of our food.

At this point, I don’t know if I’m prepared for the end of this project. Fortunately for me and Pink, that’s still six months away.

Pink Facts Week 1

Age: 1 day

Weight: Estimated to be 1 pound

Cost at this point: One-time breeding cost + one-time veterinarian cost + heat, electricity, bedding + labor + sow feed = $39.08

*Editor’s note: The cost was previously listed at $39.67, but was incorrectly calculated due to an error in labor costs.

(Have questions or Ag & Eats news tips, events or recipes? Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)