Making Bacon

I’ve been known to do some spontaneous things that make people ask if I’m crazy. This is one of them. It was a sunny day in May.  I was driving a back country road. I saw a sign that said piglets, $100.00. I happened to have $100.00, I love bacon, I think I’ll buy a pig. After a brief conversation in which I lied about having owned pigs, I had my very own bacon seed. How hard could this be?

Bringing home the bacon

We already had goats. They had a big 100 foot by 100 foot pen. I’ll just throw the pig in there. They could “coexist” like on those bumperstickers I see on all the subaru’s. Well come to find out they can’t. The piglet wanted to suckle what she saw hanging from the goats. The goats wanted no part in that, especially the male goat. My much more pragmatic and detail oriented wife did some research. Turns out the pig will eventually kill the goats. Who knew bacon could be so angry?

Off to Tractor Supply I went. Some midnight post hole digging and cow panels and old Mango had a pig jail. Yes we named her, Mango. I know you don’t name them. People were placing bets that we would have a pet pig forever. They had good reason, my wife is a vegetarian. Opposites attracting is real. Mango continued to grow. We fed her all of our table scraps, and things from our garden. We rehomed our goats because we just didn’t have the time to dedicate to them. Mango moved out of jail to the big house in the barnyard. She promptly ate the floor.

Mango in pig jail after being inappropriate with our male goat

I often found myself in her pen scratching her ears, and rubbing her sides. My daughters would play with her, and chase her around. My neighbors would come over and give her their table scraps too. Everybody loved Mango. She was very happy with her situation. She rooted up the ground, wallowed in the mud and had a general grand old time. Then one day I noticed that fall was coming, and Mango was big.

Mango put on some pounds over the summer

I begrudgingly made an appointment with the butcher I use for my wild game. I made sure that Mango was comfortable and enjoyed her time. I coaxed her into the trailer for the ride through town and out to the butcher. I delivered her to her fate. I didn’t like it, but I knew this truth. The outcome to Mango’s life was predetermined the moment she was born.  I take great pride in the fact that her time was pleasant, fun, and caring. She was essentially free to live her life out enjoying her piece of earth, and a good ear scratch.

Mango on travel day.

The following morning after I dropped her off. I got up early like I often do, went to the garage, filled the bucket with pig food, and remembered that there was no pig to feed. A few days later I got the call from the butcher and went and picked up the pork. All through this winter we will enjoy the food that our pig provided us. We will be grateful for her as I’m sure she was grateful for us. Next year I’ll raise a few more pigs. There’s something satisfying in knowing that you know exactly how your food was raised, how it was cared for, and the effort you put into it. I am certainly thankful that sometimes I make spontaneous decisions. Without them I would have never known Mango.  

A healthy supply of winter meat.

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