Thursday, July 17, 2008

As if chickens weren't enough....

...we bought a pig.

(Okay, I'll let that sink in for a minute.)

Well, we actually bought half a pig.

(I'll let you cogitate on that a moment.)

Alright...let me do some 'splainin.

We went in with another family on a weaner (as in a baby pig that has just been has nothing to do with what it might become later) which they are housing. We are helping pay for the feed (they're doing the feeding), and in the fall my husband (not I) will help with the butchering.

For an investment of about $50 or $60 we should end up with about 125 pounds of meat. We will still have to pay the local butcher to smoke some ham and bacon but I'm pretty certain it will still be A LOT less than we would pay for all that meat at the grocer's.

So why would we buy a pig? Well I had to think about that for awhile myself. I am not a big pork eater. However, when an opportunity presents itself for inexpensive food, sometimes you have to take it.

With prices on nearly everything taking such incredible leaps I'm looking for all kinds of ways to save money. Raising our own food seems like a no brainer. In the past what that meant for me was growing a garden. And this year we do have two tomato plants and two struggling squash plants (I think we will be lucky to get anything off of them) but we are already making plans for a much larger and more productive garden next year. And we are now raising animals.

Honestly we are doing more than just planning a garden and raising chickens and a pig, we are rethinking our lifestyle.

It's very easy to go to the grocery store with a list of things I need and pluck them off a shelf , put them in a cart and pay for them. It's somewhat harder to dig around in the, make sure everything gets water, isn't eaten by a bug, harvest the produce and find a way to store it for future months (ie. can, freeze or dry it). However, I think it is more satisfying and much less expensive to do so.

The same goes for the pig and the chickens. (Besides that the chickens add a lot of entertainment value.)

Some friends of mine and I have also begun looking at the things we buy out of convenience that we could be making ourselves at home. Soaps and cleaning products have become our target. We are a little bit surprised to find that they are easy to make and much less expensive. Did you know that you can make your own laundry detergent that cleans your clothes just as well as the name brand products for a fraction of the cost? Check it out here at The Family Homestead.

I like the thought that I can stretch our ever shrinking dollar by learning how to make some things myself and also by growing some of our own food. I also think that in many ways it is much more wholesome. I like knowing where my food is coming from and how it has been raised.
I know I've seen this question asked on other blogs but I'm going to go ahead and ask it again. What kinds of things are you doing to stretch your dollar (or pound for my friends across the pond)? Are you making lifestyle changes? Have you bought a pig?
By the way, the picture of the chicken at the beginning of the post is one of our newest editions. Her name is Nellie.


skoots1mom said...

we've bought 1/2 a cow b4 but never a pig...we eat lots of pork at our house b/c my dh can't eat any form of steak, but he can eat hamburger.

i'm thankful for my freezer so i can capture those really good deals and save $$ overall.

Cyndy said...

We still have to get the freezer (which I have been wanting for about four years now) and we will need it for 125 lbs of meat!

Scarlett said...

We don't eat pork or beef because they are so unhealthy. You can buy chicken or fish for the same price or less than you can buy that pork or beef. Did you know that if you cook pork long enough that it just makes a big ball of fat. :-( Yummy. I would never put that in my child's stomach.

wendygram said...

Thanks for the info on the laundry soap! I'm going to try it. Keep those handy money saving better for you tid bits coming!

Cyndy said...

Hi Scarlett - thank you for stopping by. I don't plan on serving pork everyday, I do beleive in "everything in moderation". Pork and beef are not meats we eat very often but we do eat them. I'm sure if you boiled most things long enough they would end up being something pretty gross. :)

Amy said...

Not only have we bought 1/2 a hog before, but my friend and I did all the butchering (except the fatal shot done by her hubby)and smoked the hams and bacon as we couldn't find anyone else to do it. My verdit? Homegrown pigs make the most incredible chops! So much more flavor than the industrial stuff. But next time I would skip the ham and bacon and use that meat for more sausage.

Amy said...

Cyndy asked in a comment to me why we would do the sausage but not the ham....

We cured and smoked the hams and bacon ourselves and the results were far from what we had hoped. Not that the meat went bad, just we didn't really like it, while we loved the sausage. Also an older friend of my friend showed up as we were trimming out the bacon on slaughtering day and trimmed it for us, leaving us with what I would consider fat back, which I wouldn't eat.

Curing ham and bacon is very particular, with many variations in recipe and method, so you might not get what you want. If someone else (butcher) will do it for you, you might want a taste test if you can get it.

But sausage is so easy. You grind up the meat and some fat (don't make it too lean) and add in spices. Do it in small batches and fry up a bit at a time so you can taste it (something you can't do with ham or bacon) until you like the flavor.

Nothing like an occasional meal of biscuits and gravy to make my husband happy!

Cyndy said...

Thanks Amy! I will certainly ask our butcher for a little taste of previously smoked meat to make sure I like what I get.

I'm looking forward to making my own sausage too. I discovered an old sausage making cookbook at my in-laws last time I was there and was able to bring it home with me! Can't wait!