Porcine Facts

As “Bovine” is for cattle and “Equine” is for horses, therefore let it be known that “Porcine ” is for swine. The Latin word for pig is “Porcus” giving us the word for pork. Some of my readers are probably aware of some of the following facts, but if you’re one of those that is not familiar with swine, I offer the following facts for your contemplation.

  • A pig’s IQ is comparable to that of a dogs. They are among the most intelligent of the domesticated animals.
  • Pigs are a very clean animal. If given the chance, they will “relieve themselves” in the corner furthest away from their sleeping area.
  • The typical piglet will increase it’s weight by 7,000 percent from birth to a slaughter age of six months.
  • Pigs are like humans in that they are omnivores meaning they will eat both plant material as well as other animal products and by-products.
  • Pigs do not gobble their foods but tend to eat slowly and enjoy their feed.
  • As pigs do not have sweat glands, they need to have access to cool, clean water or mud if available, to maintain proper body temperature.
  • Around 75 million hogs are slaughtered each year in the United States to provide each of us with 65 pounds of pork.
  • Around 40 different medicines for human are made from pigs. Their heart valves have been used to replace heart valves while their insulin is used for diabetics, their skin for treating burns, their thyroxine  to treat thyroid problems, and a product from their pituitary gland to help relieve arthritis.
  • Around 65 percent of the hog is edible while the other 35% is used for other uses as witnessed above. An old saying states that everything is used but the squeal.

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This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Catchup

When I was young boy growing up on a 160 acre farm in Iowa we didn’t have a lot of disposable income for fancy store bought groceries. We had eggs from our laying flock, milk from a few cows, chicken from a broiler flock and spent layers, beef from the steer lot, pork from the small herd of pigs and vegetables from the garden. Our treat for the week was wieners  on Sunday morning for breakfast. We didn’t have Heinz or Del Monte Ketchup from the store to dip the wieners in. Dad had his own recipe for homemade catchup and boy, it tasted homemade. Not in a good way homemade. Rather in a way that said, “Take it or leave it.” I gave dad a hard time about his homemade catchup until he passed. He would always come back with, “It wasn’t that bad, was it?”  I’d change the subject so as not to have to admit that it might not have been all that bad. I wish I had come across this recipe sooner and had been able to share it with him. I’m sure he would have been game to try it. Elderberries seem to grow wild all across the country, so if you don’t have access to tame berries, look for a patch of wild ones.

Elderberry Catchup

2 qts elderberries
Vinegar to cover
1 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp allspice
1 Tbsp cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Cook the elderberries in the vinegar until the berries burst. Put the berries through a food processor or sieve. Add the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and cayenne pepper. Simmer until desired consistency is reached. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

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Larry’s Senior Moment

With the election coming up later this year, I figured it would be appropriate to remember some of the senior moments that the politicians elected by the American people to represent them suffered from.

Larry Pressler, often called Larry Press Release (he had his picture along with a press release in local papers for every little thing he did) served the people of South Dakota from 1979 to 1997. One day while serving on the Commerce Committee  Senator Pressler absentmindedly selected the wrong door to exit the meeting room he had been in a countless number of times. He entered a closet instead of the hallway. Being embarrassed, he decided to stay in the closet until he felt sure that the other senators on the committee members had left the room by way of the hallway (real) door. It must have never occurred to Pressler that the other senators had seen his mistake and would wait for him to come out of the closet, which they did. His mistake made the rounds of congress and you can rest assured that Senator Press Release forgot to issue a news release on this one.

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How Tommy Drowned

Recently we were in Chicago to pay respects to a first cousin who had past away suddenly and unexpectedly . While sitting at the funeral home, literally hundreds of people came by to do the same and share stories on how he had an impact on their lives. Somehow, this reminded me of this story.

Mrs. O’Hara is talking to Clancy the barkeep about the accidental death, Tommy. Clearly distraught at the unfortunate turn of events, she laments, “Oh, Clancy, it’s just so hard to understand some things in this world. It seems so completely horrible that he fell into that vat of beer you keep in the back room and drowned,”

“Ah,” say Clancy, leaning back in his chair, giving thought to his words, “you have to console yourself with the knowledge that he had a full and happy life.”

“Oh, I know,” says the widow, “but it just seems that he suffered terribly. I mean, the coroner said that even though he fell in at mid-night, he didn’t actually drown until almost four in the mornin’. It seems so strange. I can’t get it out of my head. I wonder how you explain that…”

“Well, that’s simple,” says Clancy. “I saw him climb out two or three times to take a leak.”

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Dandelion Greens

It won’t be long up here on the Massanutten and there will be enough dandelion growing for a good mess of dandelion greens. I’ve seen a few hardy dandelions blooming already but not enough for a good mess. Here’s a good basic recipe for those of you who haven’t tried these greens before. I’ve got an excellent kicked up recipe that, if I remember, will post later this spring.

4 c dandelion greens, washed
1/2 c diced onions
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
Salt &pepper to taste

Immerse the washed dandelion greens in a pot of boiling salted water. Cook until the water returns to a rapid boil. Drain and chop the greens. Saute the diced onion in the butter/margarine and mix in the greens.Season with the salt and pepper to taste.

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Peanuts and Popcorn

Peanuts are native to Virginia and are grown commercially. There aren’t as many peanut outlets as there are wine outlets in the state, but the discrepancy is shrinking. Peanuts go hand in hand with popcorn so a few thoughts on growing both seem in order.

Plant shelled peanuts 12 inches apart and 1-1/4 inches deep. When the peanut plants are about 12 inches tall, they should be hilled or mulched with straw. Harvest the peanuts when the leaves turn yellow. The best way to harvest peanuts is by slowly prying up the whole plant with a potato fork. After you have the plant out of the ground, gently shake off the loose soil. Hang the plants in a shady, warm, and airy location. Allow two to three weeks of drying time to allow the  moisture content of the peanuts to drop. When the leaves become dry and crumbly, you can pull the peanuts off the plants. At this time they should be ready for roasting and storing.

Popcorn should be grown like sweet corn. It should be planted early to allow plenty of time for maturing. Plant 6 inches apart in rows 36 inches apart. After a good frost or when the plants are brown and dry you may remove the ears from the stalks. At this time the kernels should be hard and glossy in order to pop well. Be sure to spread out the husked ears in a dry, airy spot to cure for several weeks. Store the kernels in the refrigerator to maintain proper moisture content in the kernels for good popping.

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Plant Nutrients

Gardening season is creeping up on us whether we are ready or not. When we are getting ready to put in our plants or seeds one of the first things we should make sure of is that the soil has proper fertility. A soil test is the best way to determine if any nutrients are lacking and needs to be added. You will notice three numbers on a bag or bottle of fertilizer. As an example I’ll use 5-10-10. The first number is the percentage of N (nitrogen) in the container. The middle number is the percentage of P (phosphorus) in the container while the last number is the percentage of K (potash) in the container. My example would contain 5% Nitrogen, 10% Phosphorus and 10% Potash. The other 75% of the container would be carrier material and/or some micro-nutrients.

Nitrogen gives the plant its dark green color. It increases the growth of the leaf and stem tissue. It also increases the crispness and quality of leaf crops such as lettuce. Nitrogen also stimulates rapid early growth.

Phosphorus stimulates early formation and growth of roots and tubers such as potatoes, beets and carrots. It also gives the plants a rapid and vigorous start. P is important in the formation of seeds and fruits. It combines with calcium for greater sugar content in cells.

Potash increases the vigor of plants and increases the plant’s resistance to disease and aids in strong, stiff plant stalks. K promotes the production of sugars, starches and oils in the plants. It is necessary in the plants for increasing the plumpness of grains and seeds as well as improving the quality of crop yields.

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