On a farm, by necessity, you live seasonally. This is the time of year when I'm busy freezing and canning what I am able to prepare before the first killing frost and the long winter that follows. It's generally not time for babies. Today was a big exception. Because pigs will breed year round, we were expecting a litter from each of our 2 sows soon. We had moved them into the same pen the mother goats occupied a few months ago after a lot of cleanup and a little work to make 2 seperate, pig-proof pens. We then moved Charlotte & Fern to thier new home to let them get adjusted before the big day arrived. Although they were appearing close to farrowing (giving birth if you're a pig), we thought they were still a week or so away and were still allowing them access to the outdoor run. Fern also started to build a nest out of hay, grasses & corn husks, but again, that means she is close but not necessarily beginning labor. I was in the kitchen canning a wonderful peach barbeque sauce when my brother in law came in and informed me that the pigs were in labor. I had to go out and see, as most farm animals birth at night, not at 1PM wit the sun high in the sky. However, Char was outside with 2 piglets by her side and Fern was inside with 3. It's very unusual for pigs to need assistance when farrowing, so we let them go. Each of our girls had 10 babies, with one from each litter being stillborn, not uncommon for pigs. I've learned not to cry for those ones and instead be glad about having 18 live ones. While our girls have always had their little ones within a week of each other, It's pretty unusual to have them on the same day, much less at the exact same time! We had to get the moms inside where everyone can stay warm and dry. Fern weighs around 400 lbs and gets really mean after she has piglets, so while she was exhausted and fairly calm we picked up all her babies and moved them, then she reluctanly followed. Char was thirsty, so she was already up, it was a matter of picking up her babies as well and moving mom & the kids inside. Everyone quickly settled down and no humans were injured in the process. It was a good day.
I know some of you are wondering how the Delaware tasted. I still don't know. We offered free samples of our homegrown chicken at the stand this weekend and had lots of leftovers from roasting 2 whole birds. So the Delaware went into the freezer and between stuffing ourselves with the last of the garden's bounty of sweet corn and using up the leftovers, I'm not sure when I'll get it cooked. But I promise I'll post it here!
Apologies to Maureen for not personally replying to her comment from last post, but it's been hectic here. She wanted to know why a commercial chicken would have all that salt water added. The industry calls it "plumping" and says they do it because customers like the taste better. A natural chicken will have a bit of sodium in it- 45-60 mg if you don't add any salt during the cooking process. A plumped chicken can have 10 times as much. To put that in perspective, it's more salt than an order of fast food fries! Why? You are buying by the pound but purchacing salt water, which is dirt cheap for big business to add to their product. And customers across the country paid billions of dollars last year for the weight of the salt water alone! I'm also guessing that the salt and the seaweed product carrageenen, which is also used in the plumping process, preserve the chicken somewhat and allow it to sit in the store's cooler a bit longer before it starts to smell or look funny. I haven't seen that in print though. The best way to avoid all this is to find a farmer you can trust and buy direct. Your taste buds will thank you too!
Ok, I just can't get the pictures to come up on this blog. If you'd like to see the piglets, just go to www.pleasantvalleyfarm.weebly.com and scroll down until you see "Our Newest Arrivals". The piglets are about 2 hours old in the pictures!