Wednesday, November 2, 2011
To market, to market, to buy a fat pig ... a lesson learned
I picked up the meat from our butchered hogs yesterday. As I was paying, I told the guy that I'd see him in the spring. He said "so you guys are raising up some more then?" I said yes, that we'd gotten a couple more from the market. He stood there for a couple of seconds and then said "Ya know if you lay the feed to them you'll get a good bunch of meat off 'em. These hogs, they didn't look so good when we cut them open, you could tell that, well, they weren't fed real well."
I smiled and nodded as I exploded with anger inside. I told him that we'd bought these hogs from our neighbors friend 2 months prior to bringing them in. I thanked him again and left.
Now, I wasn't angry at the man for telling me the truth about the condition of the hogs. I was angry at myself & my husband for not knowing better and I was angry at our neighbor & his friend for screwing us! They knew that they hadn't taken care of the hogs properly & had stunted their growth.
When we moved here we started going to the auctions & markets, to see what was for sale & to talk to the other farmers & ranchers. We slowly started purchasing our livestock. We got invited to go to a private pig sale with one of the guys we'd met. We were sitting up in our barn a couple days later talking about going to the sale when our neighbor tells us that him & his friend have been raising up hogs & that they'd sell us a couple & save us some money. So we drove out to the friends house to look at them. We were told that they were babies, about 3 months old & that the big one was a great mama, was ready to be bred back as soon as a boar was found.
They told us how they'd been feeding them, when they'd bought the babies, when the mama had last had a litter. We felt like they were being really upfront and were truly trying to help us save some money & get started. So we said we'd buy them, but could we keep them there for a couple of weeks while we got our hog lot ready. They said sure, if we supplied the feed. No problem we said, we went that day & bought 200 lbs of feed.
The friend told us he was going to separate our hogs from his. Mr. Wild went & helped move them. There were 5 babies and we'd picked ours out. Two weeks later we went by & it was time to move them. The friend said he'd round them up & get them in the trailer so that when Mr. Wild got there, they'd be ready to go. They were unloaded as the sun was setting & everyone was hot & ready to be done for the day. So we fired up the grill, got some beers & kicked back by the creek.
The next morning we went out to feed the hogs & they are really small & thin. I asked Mr. Wild why they were there, those were NOT the ones we'd picked out. He looked at me and said they were loaded before he got there. He said he thinks we were given the smallest of the bunch, that that was why the "friend" offered to load them for us. He said "we'll lay the feed to them, we'll fatten them up!" That was the end of July. Our plan was to take them to butcher beginning of December.
A few weeks go by & we notice that they don't seem to be gaining weight. We ask if they'd been wormed, no they hadn't. So we give them deworming medicine. We're sitting around in the barn again with the same neighbor & he starts talking about how he's upset with the friend because he's just found out that the friend isn't feeding their hogs right, that he's letting them go days without feed. He says he wants to move his hog but doesn't want to make the friend mad. Mr. Wild & I just look at each other. We're new to this area, we don't know all the "rules" yet, so we don't say anything.
We go to market the end of August & buy two baby hogs. Our sole goal is to feed them through winter to butcher in the spring. In the 2 months we've had them, they have already grown larger than the original hogs. We feed them every morning & every evening, make sure they have fresh water everyday & all of the table & garden scraps we have. You know, common sense stuff!
Two weeks ago, we get invited to a hog roast. The neighbors friend has sold one of the hogs to another friend & its bbq time. Mr. Wild goes to help butcher & while the hog is hanging from the tractor, the guy that bought it says "man this hog isn't very big, where's all the meat!??!" The guy that sold it just laughs.
As I stood listening to the butcher talk about how to take care of hogs, all of the stuff that had happened was running through my head. I wanted to call the neighbor & tell him off. But I won't. I also won't buy another animal from him or his friends. We've learned over the last few months that there is a big difference between the guys that play farmer and the guys that actually ARE farmers. Knowledge is a big key factor in that. I'm thankful for the meat that we did get, which only filled the big chest freezer about 1/4. Lesson learned!