It's always so exciting going to pick out the animals at the beginning of Spring. We never quite know exactly how an animal is going to look by late July (and be "show worthy") when we make our first visits in late February. The pigs are usually so small, many of them maybe around 40-50 pounds in size. Our goal to have them in the 250-280 pound range by show time.
We are only into year 2 of our 4-H Tenure but it doesn't make it any easier when parting with the animals at the end of the show season. The animals are going to market today, ranging in weight of 260 - 315 pounds...they will make great pork chops and roasts for friends and family in and around our community. That's one reason why we raise them...to give back. Additionally, it's a means to help my son and my nephew and niece to learn better responsibility, first hand.
The kids work together learning good nutritional plans for the pigs so the animals can develop appropriately. They make sure that fresh bedding is laid down for each animal, no less than once per day (sometimes twice), we work out an exercise program for the animals and a plan for training them to not be "wild creatures" on days when they are in the middle of a show arena being judged on their ability to produce a high quality meat product. Think of the pig's life similarly to how we all strive to be better humans and educators of our children.
Then the time comes when the pigs have reached maximum weight. We can't just keep them hanging around in the barn. As much fun as that may sound, a "hanging around" kind of lifestyle is not healthy for a non-breeding animal. We have to say our final goodbyes and move them on to market.
The great thing is, even though we raise our 4-H animals for only a few short months, much is learned and gained and at the end of the project we have a resource that goes to provide for many people.
It's hard, but it's an opportunity to build memories and learning experiences to last for a lifetime.
So, the time has come. We say our final "goodbyes" and look forward to what new animal/human bonds we will create next season and we all need a little bit of comfort. It's never easy seeing our livestock go.
The Little Farmer looked for a comfort food recipe that he wanted to try and just so happened to find a recipe from a blogger friend of mine that I wanted to share with all of you. It is fabulous and certainly brightened the face of my young one! Not only did he locate the recipe (thank you Marybeth Feutz and My Fearless Kitchen for this yummy dish), he MADE the recipe...what a great way to get the kiddo involved and to take his mind off today!
An Awesome Burger Recipe