Pulled pork has to be the most widely used recipe for pork shoulder, ever. When I created the recipe for Pork Carnitas, I cut the shoulder roast into large pieces before searing in my cast iron skillet, so more of the roast would have the opportunity to caramelize from the heat and develop flavor. This proved to be the most crucial step I’ve ever made in cooking a roast. It deserved a repeat effort, and turned out to be the most delicious pulled pork sandwich I’ve ever devoured. (I inhaled 3 in two days. No tiny sandwich either, just like the one in the picture above.)
This past weekend was Father’s Day, and we celebrated by going to church, doing chores and then moved some pigs around. The times where we have nothing going on and can be at the barns together tends to be our ‘fun. There never ceases to be opportunities as parents to teach our kids something.
Keeping our pigs comfortable, safe and well managed (whether they are pigs in our modern pig barns or our show pigs) is vital to our success and is the right thing to do. My husband is great at showing the kids (and me, too) how to take care of pigs and become better stockmen and stockwomen.
Each farm has their own individual method of raising pigs. Factors that dictate these methods are the facilities available to house pigs or provide shelter, climate of the region, and skills of the farmer/caretaker. To me, there is not one single perfect way to raise pigs, but many diverse ways to raise them, and at the end of the day if the pigs are well managed, content and safe, that’s the ticket. (No matter where they are housed.)
There are also different considerations a person should give when thinking about how animals are raised. As modern day pig farmers, we are consistently trying to raise more pigs with less land and resources than ever before. This is an essential piece of the puzzle of raising enough food to meet the needs of our growing population. The modern barns you see above help us do that.
So, though my pictures on here and on my social media channels of our money-gobbling hobby of showing pigs may look ‘adorable’ and ‘idyllic’, it is not the way to raise enough pork to feed the neighbors in a 2 mile radius let alone a community.
(*Did I mention it takes gobs of time, resources and energy too?)
What the show pigs DO for our family is this:
1. Provides a hobby where we can all be together doing what we like to do=being around pigs.
2. The opportunity to meet and interact with new people from all over the US at livestock shows.
3. Having livestock to show brings on a different group of responsibilities and chores for our kids at home.
4. Having pigs that we raise outdoors (in Iowa’s freezing winters and muggy summers) makes us appreciate the climate controlled modern pig barns you saw earlier in the post above.
5. The kids have the opportunity to interact a bit more closely with these pigs, and can help give them vaccinations and treat them with antibiotics if they are sick.
6. Though they are somewhat pets, because the amount of interaction with them, it is difficult but a life lesson to teach our children when it is time to harvest the animals. This pork is seen on grocery store shelves too.
Raising Pigs in Modern Pig Barns:
1. Provides a steady source of income for our family.
2. We raise safe and affordable pork that you see in grocery stores, that we purchase to feed our own family.
3. Gives us an opportunity to teach the kids more about stockmanship and caring for animals in a different setting.
4. Provides useful fertilizer (the manure that falls between the slats of the floor in the barn) that we apply to the land to put nutrients back into the soil to grow the corn and soybeans that we feed our pigs.
5. We can raise more pigs with less resources in these modern pig barns.
If you ever have questions about the ways we raise pigs on our farm, you can always ask us. We’d love to visit with you.
Until then… you’d better head out, grab a pork shoulder to get working on making that pulled pork sandwich!