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

By on Jul 6, 2016 in A Pig's Life |

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...

Not piglets anymore

By on Jul 4, 2016 in A Pig's Life, Multimedia |

Pink 2.0 and his siblings (plus another litter of pigs) call, rather loudly, for food on the morning of Monday, July 4, 2016. The pigs are nearing their processing weight (and subsequently, are eating a lot more food!) See the latest “A Pig’s Life” installment this coming Wednesday.

A Pig’s Life: From piglet to pork-chop, Week 19

By on Jun 22, 2016 in A Pig's Life |

Even by 8:30 a.m. on Monday, the day’s temperature was inching toward its 91-degree high, and Pink 2.0 was in search of somewhere cool to lay down. After getting stepped on several times in the pig shed, he settled for the dry dirt underneath Carole Soule’s parked manure spreader. As he squashed in with his siblings – all well over 100 pounds now – Soule and I remarked how quickly time has flown since Pink 2.0 was born on a bitter cold, February night. “He’s going to be ready pretty soon,” Soule told me, indicating Pink 2.0 was close to processing weight. “We’ll choose a date this week – no later than August.” As we both prepare for the end of this journey – Pink’s death and eventual processing into saleable meat – I asked Soule what kind of backlash she gets as a meat farmer. “I think everyone has the right to be a vegetarian or vegan, and they have the right to share their views,”...

A Pig’s Life: From piglet to pork-chop, Week 17

By on Jun 8, 2016 in A Pig's Life |

Standing next to a paddock where some of her older, larger pigs lay resting on Monday, Carole Soule gave me a little Pink 2.0 history lesson. His mother, a mostly pink and black-splotched sow named Sarah, came to Soule somewhat by accident. People caught Sarah during a local fair’s pig scramble and brought her home, but as she grew, Sarah became too unwieldy for her owners. “She was a pet – she was fed hot dogs,” Soule said. “She kept getting away because she was looking for a boar.” In December 2014, Sarah was given to Miles Smith Farm, where she would join Charlotte, the first pig Soule said she bought for meat but unintentionally kept. “She missed her appointment with the butcher,” she told me. “Within two hours people were in love with her. We couldn’t ship her . . . but she needed a job so we bred her.” When Sarah arrived, she was bred, too. Several litters down the line, Pink 2.0...

A Pig’s Life: From piglet to pork-chop, Week 15

By on May 25, 2016 in A Pig's Life |

I think a pig’s life can be quite charming. Early morning light filtered through leafy green trees Monday, and underneath, Pink 2.0 snuggled in with his siblings in a drier part of their paddock. Once an accompanying friend and I stepped inside Carole Soule’s electric fence, they slowly stood up, shook off sleepiness and ambled over to investigate. As birds chirped in the branches above their shed and down by the adjacent pond, Pink 2.0 and the others quietly snorted and nudged our shoes. Soule sat down on the ground and was suddenly surrounded by an abundance of pig, pushing and bumping each other for a good spot. Some let us scratch them in the bristly area behind their ears, their eyes closing in enjoyment. Others rolled right over on their backs as we rubbed their warm bellies. A couple of pigs, including Pink 2.0, realized we had no food and got to rooting. Sticking his snout...

A Pig’s Life: From piglet to pork-chop, Week 13

By on May 11, 2016 in A Pig's Life |

I guess there’s a reason why they call it “pork barrel.” Raising a pig – like concentrated government spending – doesn’t come cheap. Halfway through his life, Pink 2.0 has cost Carole Soule almost $200 and not an insignificant amount of work. In general, Soule told me pigs can be somewhat mischievous and require more care than other livestock. “Pigs are more labor-intensive just because of their nature,” she said. On Friday, Soule used a charge-reader to check the several layers of electric fence lining the edge of the pig paddock. Pink 2.0 and his siblings broke through it a few days earlier, and while Soule said they return at the mere sound of grain hitting a bucket, there are still fence repairs to do. “They’re testing it all the time,” she said. Pink 2.0 and the others weren’t concerned with the fence Friday, at least when they were first let out. The pigs were too busy racing...