This is the first of a three-part series that over the next five months will chronicle the author’s effort to understand our relationship to the animals we eat. It will be at times unflinching, yet enlightening.
Four years ago, when my husband and I began trying to hunt, gather and grow as much of our own food as possible, we instituted a barnyard rule of one new species per year. Year one, naturally, was chickens — everyone’s introductory livestock. The next year was turkeys. Year three, buoyed by our success with chickens and turkeys, we made an exception and got both ducks and bees.
This year, humbled by trouble with ducks and bees, we’re back to one. Our fondness for bacon, coupled with our aversion to daily milking, made pigs the obvious choice. We’re not alone. Although backyard pigs fly under the USDA radar, and there are no statistics, anecdotal evidence indicates that home sties are on the rise. Walter Jeffries, proprietor of Sugar Mountain Farm in Vermont, sells pasture-raised piglets and reports an uptick in business. “With the recent recession we have seen an increase in the number of people interested in raising a summer pig,” he says.