Converting Apple Drops into Ham

My hogs weigh in around 150 pounds now.  They are slower in growing out than their floor-raised counterparts for a number of reasons.  First, though they eat roughly the same amount, they don’t have access to food all day long.  Because they don’t have access to a snack any time they want they tend to be a bit leaner than they would otherwise be.  Also, they have room to run, exercise, fight and play which, not surprisingly, results in a leaner animal.  Finally, my pigs are expected to work for a living.  They aren’t laying on slatted concrete relaxing in the shade, inches away from feed and water.  They are out on the sun-baked pasture.  There are goodies buried in the brick-like soil and they work to find them.  After they work the soil I plant a few seeds.  They are happy with the work they accomplish.  They are happy to live life in the sun with a chance to fully discover the purpose of their design…well, not the reproductive parts.  My customers are happy because I deliver a lean, healthy, happy and, consequently, tasty animal to the locker.

Let’s make it even better.  Right now immature apples are falling from the apple trees at Aunt Marion’s house.  It is important to remove the drops from the orchard to control the pest population and limit disease vectors in the orchard.  The kids and I pick up a few bags full of apples each evening.  Later this week they’ll work with Aunt Marion (who recently celebrated her 94th birthday) to sift the good from the bad under the early ripening apple trees.  For now we just harvest from under the mutsu apple tree.

The pigs get a 5-gallon bucket of unsorted apples each evening for dinner which is the same as saying they get unlimited access to apples.  They really make pigs of themselves.  This will add flavor to the finished product giving a lean, healthy, flavorful pig you just can’t buy anywhere.  By the way, we’re sold out of fall pork.

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