I picked up a copy of this book at Logos in downtown Santa Cruz a few weekends ago. It was a quick read and a bit pricey at almost 25 bucks, but I enjoyed Chuck Wooster's candid writing style, and I'm always a sucker for quality photography, which is used judiciously throughout.
|We heart happy, healthy piggies.|
Wooster outlines in the beginning what the book does and does not cover, the latter of which includes keeping sows and boars for breeding and more advanced veterinary care if the need arises. We will probably not be overwintering (not sure if that is the correct term) our livestock in the beginning, and farrowing is far off in the future for us. The author frankly states that little to no veterinary care should be needed if hogs are raised in the healthy manner he suggests and that heavy culling may need to be considered if problems continue.
I appreciated his detailed section on fencing and containment. I'm excited to be entertained by our future pigs' antics, but I'm determined to try to minimize problems with regard to containing the beasts where we deem appropriate.
He clearly enjoys caring for his pigs and makes a strong attempt to ease a reader's potential trepidation about raising pigs for meat. While actual evisceration images are not included, he includes pictures that walk you through the slaughtering process, including one showing a hand gun to a pig's head - someone else might find this too graphic, but I thought it was actually crucial for reminding the reader of the realities of pig slaughter. Hog processing makes chicken slaughter and butchery look like a walk in the park, but I am more confident now that we can handle raising pigs for our freezer completely in-house.
I do wish the author could have included a section on the actual butchering (i.e., meat cuts), but he is honest about the fact that his skills are not there yet (although he does explain meat cut options) and that he contracts this out to a local butcher. I got a little lost in the dollars and cents section, but he is to the point (I'm just easily distracted) and his math seemed to make sense. I plan to analyze this section more in-depth once we get closer to setting up our pig infrastructure and buying shoats.
Although this is not an all-inclusive resource for keeping pigs on the homestead, I felt that it gave me some good building blocks for filling our freezer with delicious homegrown pork. Definitely a permanent fixture on the homesteading bookshelf.