Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Excess Hammie - What To Do

My recent news about breeding Hammie has generated some email questions. Why didn't I just butcher her for food? Why didn't I simply sell her and double my money? Since I had already been paid for her, why not give the pig away to someone that's poor? 

First question.....butchering. The problem is that I've grown fond of Hammie. While I could slaughter most of the animals I raise, Hammie has become a pet. I could have put her into the freezer a few months ago, but alas no longer. This is a dilemma many homestead farmers face. What happens if you allow yourself to get emotionally involved with your livestock. In my case, I can keep an emotional distance most of the time. But sometimes I fail. Hammie is one of my failures. 

Second question.....why not just sell her. Craigslist is active here on the island, so I'm sure she would sell quickly enough if I asked the right price. But I'm aware that 99% of buyers are looking for pork. And I'm not ready to do that to her. If she turned mean or aggressive, I'd dig the imu myself! But for right now I don't wish to see her become the star guest at a weekend luau. 

Third.... While I'm willing to be generous I'm not quick to give things away for free. I expect some sort of trade, be it a bucket of rocks, some work weeding a garden, a bag of horse manure, a bucket of waste fruits, etc. I'm not a meanie, but experience has shown me that trading works better for everyone involved than outright giving for free. And by the way, giving her away simply translates into her being eaten. 

PS- now that the word is out that Hammie is being bred, I have several people on a waiting list for a piglet. So unless things change, I'll keep Hammie until she raises her litter. 


  1. I know it's "coals to Newcastle" advice, but just remember the rule about not getting between Hammie and her litter.... And don't go to the luau at the new owner's place.

  2. Barry, you betcha!! Sows can be real aggressive. Even Hammie won't be safe around her piglets, no matter how trusting she is right now. But I'm glad you mentioned it because there are new pig owners who could get seriously hurt by their new mama sows.

    I had to laugh when I read your last line. When I eat lamb at a friend's house, the rule is that we never ask which lamb it was. I'd hate to be eating one of my favorites. Best not to ask, not to know.

  3. For us, I find that our animal firsts evoke the most significant emotional response and are then hardest to consider eating. We got over chickens a long time ago and I recently sold the last goat of the original first crew. Now we have trouble remembering names. Our two pigs are our firsts, and since the breed is characteristically friendly we've really enjoyed them. We planned ahead for that by declaring them for breeding, not eating!

    Have to agree about giving things away for free. My experience has taught me that in general, folks don't really feel responsible what they get for free. It didn't cost them anything so there's nothing to lose if it's neglected, lost, damaged, or dies (in the case of animals). If folks dont' have money, better to at least trade with them. It gives the thing more value that way and is better worth taking care of.