We typically buy a pastured pig twice a year and split it with friends. So we wind up with a half a hog in the spring and fall. This past spring, we met Kenneth Klabunde of Klabunde Farms who told us that he offers butchering classes when you buy one of their pigs at their farm, which sounded intriguing. Grant processed a deer with a friend over the winter, and he kept talking how fascinating it was. Since we only buy meat when we know how and by whom it was raised, we figured actually participating in the butchering process was the next iteration of more mindful eating.
Kenneth and his friend, Rob, did most of the heavy lifting in terms of the more intricate butchering, but they put us to work trimming the fat off of the cuts (and adding it to bags to later be rendered into lard) and butcher-tying the larger roasts for easier packaging and eventually more even cooking. Kenneth and Rob explained each cut and our various options as we went, referencing this book often.
We recruited my cousin, Jessica, and her husband, Calvin, to join us for a new experience for all of us. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but the Klabunde family had the whole thing down to a science. They had killed the pig, Pepper, the evening before, so, by the time we got there, the pig looked more like pork (think Rocky) than Babe. Kenneth explained what a great life Pepper had had, introduced us to her BFF, the goat, and showed us around their beautiful farm.
We took a break for a delicious lunch prepared by Rebecca, Kenneth’s wife, inside their beautiful home. After our break, Jessica and I started packaging all of the cuts, while the boys continued butchering. Once the pig was completely processed, we used all of the extra trimmings that we had trimmed from the roasts and other cuts to grind into sausage. We also used a few of the smaller ham roasts on the one side of the pig, so that we would have more sausage. Rob kept raving about Rebecca’s spice recipe, so we decided to keep about 30 percent of the sausage plain (to be used like you would ground beef or turkey in recipes) and season the rest.
We actually did this back at the beginning of the summer, so we’ve been eating this pork all summer long. We’ve been mixing Rebecca’s sausage half-and-half with grass-fed ground beef for the best burgers we’ve ever had. They’re so good that I might cry when the sausage is gone.
We started around 9 and finished around 3:30 with about an hour break for lunch and visiting with the piglets. We learned a ton, and we were exhausted when we were finished. I was already convinced that buying local meat and poultry from local farmers raising animals in the way they were created to live was the best choice for the community, for the environment, for our individual health, for the animal, and for the farmer – and this experience further cemented that belief. I think that, if you’re going to eat meat, you should attempt to participate in the humane processing of it at some point in your life (and, of course, I also think that we really shouldn’t be eating meat that isn’t raised sustainably if at all possible). The Klabundes still have a few spots left this year, and I would highly recommend a visit to their farm to see first-hand a farm that prioritizes the needs of the animals and the land.