We recently roasted a whole pig in our hotbox cooker and it was a blast! We invited 60 or so of our closest friends and family and enjoyed some good ole fresh-from-the-farm smoked pork and fellowship around the new feed barn.
Many years ago, we wrote down our ‘Farm Plan’ and one of the first items on that list was a feed barn. A place primarily for feeding animals; cows in the winter, a brooder for chickens, goats when they are kidding, pigs when they’re farrowing, etc. However, we also wanted a place to host large groups and entertain here on the farm. We also wanted a place to educate young students that visit on field trips, a place to orientate new employees for the Fall Corn Maze. The feed barn will be a multi-purpose building that will be worth its weight in gold!
The feed barn is 24×36 with an eave height of 12-1/2 feet. It contains a hay loft, fans with misters and electricity and its on dedicated water supply and a storage area for field supplies. The feed barn will allow us to move our composting operation under-a-roof, which is a big deal for us since our farm is located in the Blue Springs Basin of Jackson Blue. Jackson Blue is a First Magnitude Spring and creates the head waters for Merritt’s Mill Pond and Spring Creek. Jackson Blue produces over 40-million gallons of crystal clear water each day; every day! The goal of the Blue Springs Basin is to keep that water pristine for all to enjoy and one way that is accomplish is by controlling nutrient run-off. Nitrogen in our area is a particular issue. By moving our composting area under a roof, we’re doing a small part toward keeping the spring healthy. I believe that if everyone does a little, a LOT ends up getting done!
We picked a gilt, a young female pig that has never had a litter of piglets, and carried her to Jone’s Country Meats, a USDA inspected butcher facility in Climax, GA. Jones is one of the only facilities near us that will scald a pig. Scalding a pig is necessary for cooking the entire pig all at once because the skin is left on. The hair and entrails are removed. We also had the feet removed so the pig would fit into our cooker, however, we left the head on! If the skin is removed, the fat will cook away leaving the meat dry and rubbery. Our pig ended up weighing 112-lbs., a little big for our hotbox cooker, but we made it work. We used Redd’s Apple Ale for our injection and rubbed the pig down with salt, a little black pepper, a chipotle blend and brown sugar. We placed sliced apples into the body cavity to add moisture while cooking. We cooked the pig in the hotbox for six-hours. The end result was a juicy, succulent main dish that was a hit with the crowd.