Not so long ago, I posted a challenge to readers. I asked you to submit your questions to SML so we could answer them. Well, it’s finally time for me to get to work and answer them! Our first question comes from Alix at Blessed In Homemaking.
Which animal is the most valuable on your farm?
Well Alix, that’s actually more difficult for me to answer than I would have expected! All of our animals are so valuable, for so many reasons – each of them add food, compost and just plain fun to our lives! But if I had to pick just one animal, I would pick our pigs. They do so much more for us on the farm than I would have ever imagined!
Today, I’m awarding our pigs with my (imaginary) Most Valuable Farm Animal Award!
And what have they won? A humane life and and a promise that their death will not be in vain (in any way). That might not sound like much, but it’s a pretty good deal. We treat our animals with respect, don’t chase or tease them, give them room to move and grow, and keep them safe from predators. When it comes time to butcher or pigs, we end their life in a quick and humane manner, keeping them from having to suffer needlessly. We use all the parts that we can after processing so that none of it goes to waste.
Oh, pigs, why do I nominate thee?
You are just plain fun to be around!
I love your personalities and I’m just amazed at how smart you are! You learn quickly and amaze me every time I visit you in the barn or on pasture. You get used to feeding times and will often wait for me. You enjoy a good scratch on the back and all have different personalities, just like us people do!
You don’t let a single scrap go to waste!
I don’t have to feel guilty about wasting food, like EVER. You get excited over leftover scraps and rush to meet me when I come walking to your trough with leftovers and you have never once turned your nose up & complained about my cooking!
You make gardening a breeze.
You’ve saved my back from endless hours of hard work in the garden. You turn the soil & clear the area of weeds. And when gardening season is over for the year, you clean up the leftovers and let me start with a new canvass. And that means less money spent on fuel to till, too!
Your poop is the bees-knees.
Yup, I love you for your poop! It makes gardening even more of a breeze, adding nutrients to the soil and saving us money & time! We don’t need to purchase fertilizer or spread it in the garden ourselves.
You taste absolutely delish!
I have never enjoyed eating another meat so much, even more so now that we have switched to raising a heritage breed (American Guinea Hogs). The plethora of bounty you provide seems endless & leaves me anything but bored with my food. From pork chops to bacon, ham to sausage – you never let me down in the kitchen! I can even use your fat to make lard & bones for stock & broth (recipe here)!
You respect boundaries.
I’ve never had a problem with you running away and chasing after a passer by, stirring up trouble. Every now and again you test the waters, but as long as I hold up my end of the bargain by keeping you fed and housed properly, you never try to escape (Goats – I’m talking to you!) or destroy my gardens (Chickens – I’m talking to you!).
You help feed the dogs and cats.
Our working dogs and farm cats get fresh meat added into their diet Nothing goes to waste here!
You help me craft.
I’m serious when I say nothing goes to waste. I can even use your skin as a craft supply to make things like soft shoes. And even leftover bacon and sausage grease can be used to make candles, providing light in the evenings!
You have forced me to learn.
Any new addition to the farm provides a learning curve, but I have learned a lot about you (pigs), in particular. From where my food comes from (literally seeing each cut of meat as it is cut), how to care for and house you, and even how to properly put you down when it’s time to move from pasture to freezer.
But pigs aren’t everyone’s favorite farm animal.
When Jeff (aka “Hubby”) responded, he said LGDs, or livestock guardian dogs, are SML’s MVA. Supporting his answer, he said he would never have another farm without LGDs. Without livestock protection, predators may have nabbed a pig or two, which would have been a massive loss considering how much meat they provide once grown. And LGDs don’t just save us losses from predators, they save us time by enabling us to actually sleep at night vice having to constantly worry and check on the safety of our animals.
Do you have a “Most Valuable Animal” on your farm? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!