8.16.2010

Buying a Whole Pig to Save Money but I'm Not sure I Saved Any Money


Our pig has arrived! In three coolers.

This was our first foray into the world of buying a pig direct from a farmer and having it processed at a meat locker. We used the locker near where the farmer lives (about 3 hours away from us) and I was disappointed that they weren't very helpful when it came to the cut and processing choices.

In the end it was a good learning experience but if we do this again, I'll better know what to say or do or ask for!

First: The pig was the 'smallest' one at 175 pounds.

When the locker called me to ask how I wanted it processed I didn't know my options and although I had looked online to see if they offered a downloadable form so I could know ahead of time what the options were, they didn't even have a website. So I explained to her that I've never had a pig processed before and would she please let me know my options for each cut as we get to it?

She didn't. And since I was put on the spot and trying to make decisions quickly, I made some stupid ones that I know not to make again.

When asked about pork loin, pork roast and ham steaks, I declined. I had 2 seconds to make my decisions and knew we don't eat much pork loin, we only like pork roast about once a year and I knew I would never 'fry up' a ham steak. She said she would add those to the 'trimmings'.

Hocks? I said - just one as I'll only use it for soup and probably only once this year. The other three were to go for trimmings.

No heart, tongue or liver needed this time around.

No lard rendered either.

Hams? We only like a big ham dinner about once a year so I said just keep one of the big hams and cut it in half. Make the other into trimmings.

We finally got to the reason I said 'yes' when I got the call from my brother (the farmer) to buy one of his pigs; bacon.

Yes please!

Bacon and pork chops and then the trimmings were made into brat patties.

Last night my brother and his wife arrived at our home with 3 coolers of meat for us that they had picked up at the locker. On the processing form that the lady was supposed to have gone over with me I saw many, many more options that I would have LOVED to have known about!

Smoked brats
Smoked Brat Pepper jack Cheese
Smoked Links with Cheddar
Little Smokies - regular and cheddar
Ring Bologna
Pork Patties
Ribs with a Dry Rub
Laua Loaf

She didn't mention any of this!

When I ok'd the processing I didn't think that I could have gotten ALL the hams and even though we don't like ham dinners, I could have had them shave it for sub sandwiches. I buy deli ham EVERY trip to the grocery store!

I didn't think that the ham steaks could have been diced up for chef salads and pizza toppings and omlets. (I'm so stupid for nothing thinking faster!!!).

I could have marinated the pork loins - or had them sliced into medallions.

In the end, due to my lack of experience and not knowing what choices I had available to me, we received;

Pork Chops - doesn't say on my form
2 hocks for soup - 7 lb.
1 whole ham (cut into two family sized) - 21 lbs.
Seasoned Sausage - 17 lbs.
Bacon - 15 lbs.
Brat Patties (not links) - 51 lbs.

Fees include processing, butchering charge, offal disposal charge, curing charge per pound, seasoning charge, cutting and patties per piece charge.

*If we do this again I will get the pork loins and ask them to add the dry rub. I will get the flavored cheddar and pepper jack cheese options for brats. I will get little smokies. I will get all the hams and have them sliced/shaved for deli meat. I will get the ham steaks and use them for chef salad, omlets and pizza.

I won't make these mistakes again and hopefully this helps someone else know their options if they are doing this for the first time and not dealing with a very helpful meat locker.