Gangster Of Food had to attend a conference in Ohio, “How to not be an asshole” put on by the Association of Snarky Bloggers of America (ASBA). Meantime the garden has come and gone, mushrooms have started sprouting, a handful of squirrels have mysteriously died in the backyard, looks like they were shot, and you all quit paying any attention to me.
We are getting some pigs. Big pigs. Anyone who is interested in this endeavour should comment on the post. The pigs will be from Lance’s Farm Vittles in Bay City, Oregon. They are advertised as “milk fed” although they obviously eat other things too. The pigs are raised in a pen/ barn structure and someone expressed concern that the pigs were confined in some way. Apologies, sir for reprinting my thoughts on the matter here, but it was good of you to give me an opportunity to express my feelings on the subject of animal confinement:
If you got someone that you are going through then by all means do that, I’ll easily have enough people to get two or three pigs and I’m sure the PMC has more resources and a nicer space than I got. I’m trying to get into one of their fall pork classes as well.
Concerning the raising the pigs indoors vs. outdoors I’ve talked to a few of different pig producers about the subject and I’ve gotten two main responses. One response is: “They’re pigs, given the choice they stay inside” from Sweetbriar Farms whom I believe the PMC has gone through in the past and the other, from the rancher at Crooked Gate which primarily raises beef using MIG practices is: “you can have pigs or you can have pasture”, basically meaning that pigs tear up pasture through their digging and rooting. From an environmental perspective, tearing up pasture is bad for soil retention, biological diversity, and soil carbon sequestration which is why feral swine are considered a noxious invasive species wherever they are found in the US and many states (including Oregon) have open season on them year round.
From an animal welfare perspective I find it illogical to argue that an animal should be allowed to do something that it is not naturally inclined to do. Free will seems to be more a preoccupation of human than animal endeavor. More importantly, if the animal is destructive to its immediate environment, allowing unfettered access to destroy its environment does little for the long- term happiness or health of the beast (witness my neighbor’s chickens, which have totally destroyed their range, and the human race).
That being said I realize that there are some farmers like Joel Salatin who make a conscious effort to move their pigs to different areas on the farm in order to utilize the pigs rooting and turning behavior to kill weeds and “rototill” the area. If I found such a farm in the area then I would at some point definitely try some of their pork. Even in this circumstance however, the pigs are usually confined to some extent so that they actually turn the area the farmer would like them to turn rather than, say, attack the nearest row of grapevines.
I see that this fall PMC will be getting their pork from Tails and Trotters which prides itself on finishing their pigs on acorns. I don’t know for sure, but from the photos on the T&T website it seems as though the pigs are confined to a pen.
In other words, freedom is of limited usefulness.
So these pigs, they gonna be good eh?