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Posted by / Monday, November 11, 2013

EAT The Whole Pig: Locally Raised Tamworth


It's no secret I am a carnivore, but I like to think I have a good mixture of recipes here on the blog and I try to cater to all palates and diets. Heck, I even tried way back going vegan for 12 days. That being said, I want to give fair warning that today's post is about a live pig that I purchased, the trip I took to see the kill and the chance I had to talk directly with the butcher. There may be a few images that some may find disturbing, but I did want to document the trip. I have tried to keep it tasteful but there is no way around the end result. I will say that the animals on this farm live a life above and beyond anything you will purchase in your local box store, and with that said, they are raised ultimately for the table. Beyond that, this post is really keeping true to what my blog is all about — eating locally, well and about sourcing food from local farmers and purveyors.

To that point, I introduce Josiah Lockhart from Lockhart Family Farm, located 40 minutes north of Richmond in Woodford (right outside Ladysmith), Virginia. He raises heritage breed pigs, turkeys, chickens, and New Zealand rabbits.

Image by Hunter Hopcroft

I met Josiah and his family over the summer through the Richmond Food Co-op where we attended a farm workshop dinner. That is where I learned how much care this family takes raising animals that live the absolute best life they can have before going to market. Even down to the bees — Josiah raises them for the pollination help on the farm, not for honey. When you raise bees for honey, it's all about taking the honey and requiring the bees to produce more which can be a bit stressful to the bee. If he ends up getting a couple of jars during the season that he and his family can use then that is just icing on the cake in his book.

As we walk with his young son, Alexander, we discuss the orchard that has recently been planted and how he is looking forward to bringing many local fruits to market in the coming years.

Image by Hunter Hopcroft

Josiah raises pure Tamworth pigs (which is what I purchased), Tamworths mixed with Ossabow, and he even has the american version of the Mangalitsa a mulefoot pig. These are rare breed pigs and the mulefoot is said to have less than 150 documented purebred hogs in existence — Josiah hopes to help change that. As the nights were starting to get cooler, Josiah had built some hay bale structures that the pigs could burrow in at night to keep warm.

These pigs are raised in the forest where they can root and forage all day long. Moving them on a regular basis allows for clearing and replanting for the next line of pigs to come through.

Image by Hunter Hopcroft

This was not my first time visiting a farm for the kill. My Hungarian grandmother would once a year go to the farm for the kill and the old saying of "using everything but the squeal" certainly was true with her. My dad and I had the opportunity to go with her on one of these trips back when I was a teenager. In Europe when it is time to have the kill, it is a communal affair where all of the neighboring farms get together and help. I am not quite sure, looking back, how my grandmother did everything she did in her small little kitchen in Henrico county.

Josiah had a local mobile butchering company come on site to the farm where the pigs had been raised as not to cause them any additional stress in transporting them. I stand and watch in amazement at how swift these guys are. They literally killed, gutted and skinned 3 - 230 pound hogs in about an hour and half. If you are at the farm for the kill you can take the head, offal (liver, kidney, and heart), jowls and the trotters (feet). I left with everything but the kidney (and skin).

*** somewhat graphic images beyond this picture ***

Images above by Hunter Hopcroft

And after those two shots, here is a beautiful picture of a possible future farmer, Alexander!

Image by Hunter Hopcroft

Luckily, after just being at Beast Feast 2013, I was able to snag some time before going to the farm with Tanya (owner of Belmont Butchery) to discuss pork cuts. She was a wealth of knowledge walking me through the cuts that I would want and how to discuss that with the butcher like a pro! Here is a picture of the rough notes I took away to type up for the butcher.


I had been so intrigued from my first farm visit this summer over our discussion of bees that Josiah was kind enough to offer to help me build a top bar hive of my own during this visit. So, we headed out to the store for a lumber run!

Image by Hunter Hopcroft

In under about an hour we had built this top-bar hive for my garage in the fan. I will document this process in a separate post — more to come!


In addition to hives, Josiah also offers these Chicken Tractors to help you get started raising your own chickens! Unfortunately, this is not an option for me and my small bricked-in back patio, but with the recent updates to laws surrounding keeping chickens in the city, they are a great option.

Image by Hunter Hopcroft

To finish out the pig, what does one get from half of a hog (I ended up splitting the full pig with one of my friends)? Outside of what I brought back the day of the kill, let's just say you might need to invest in a second freezer if you do not already have one!


I am looking forward to sharing everything I do with this pig — from rendering the leaf lard, to curing and smoking my own bacon, and cooking up some tasty locally raised pig!

More from this series: EAT The Whole Pig

As always,

E.A.T. local E.A.T. well

10 comments:

  1. My eleven year old daughter often says that if you don't want to hear or see the images of how that meat got on your plate, then you shouldn't be eating it. From the mouths of babes.
    I just rendered my first batch of lard. I'd heard it leaves your house with a certain aroma - I can tell you, smells just like pork rinds!

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    Replies
    1. Becky, I hope to be sharing my leaf lard process tomorrow! Your daughter sounds wise beyond her 11 years!

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  2. Amazing. Out of curiosity why didn't you take the kidney?

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    1. Honestly, I just did not have a plan for the kidney (any ideas for next time?) so I gave it to the farmer. The Kill happened on Friday and I left for NYC on Sunday. The meat had to be picked up from the butcher on Monday so I had a friend pick it up and put in my fridge until I got back Friday to do something with everything. Really bad timing.

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  3. I don't know if the kidney has to be from a particular animal, but steak & kidney pie is a classic British dish. I've never made it before but that would be what I would make. I'm curious to see this pig unfold!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I am going to attempt something next time so in the meantime if you come across anything please do keep me posted!

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  4. i have to be truthful watching a kill would be hard for me. But I know I would have to because it would be the right thing to do since meat does not from a plastic container. I love that the pigs roam free and live good. That can't be said for most of the meat people consume these days. Anyways. thank you for sharing and I look forward to more posts.

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  5. The Virginia Natural FarmerJanuary 16, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Hi Tim, I'd love to find out who the butcher is as we have pastured Tamworth/ Berkshire cross heritage pigs ready to butcher now for a few friends and customers. Having a processor come to the farm would be great, as you mention, it would greatly reduce the stress on our animals who are born and raised on the farm only to be hauled on a trailer for their final journey.

    Part of this discussion should include the fact that any meat us farmers produce and sell as cuts must be butchered at a USDA inspected for resale abattoir so must go through this stressful journey unfortunately but when bought/sold as a live animal as you did, it can be slaughtered by a custom slaughter facility or by the owner for the owners use. The farmer can not do it but can facilitate the process. These are important bits of the puzzle as we navigate the re-localization of our food that can get quite confusing, It's hard sometimes for my buyers to understand and get their head around the whole process and make the commitment to buying a whole or half pig... but I can assure you, it's not hard at all and you get an extraordinary product for the effort that you just can't buy at your local store!

    Keep up the good work- The Virginia Natural Farmer

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    Replies
    1. Please shoot me an email ( you can find mine in the contact me section at the top of my blog) and I will reach out with some information on who Josiah arranged. Thanks for taking a look!

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"Some people eat to live; I live to eat." -Tim Vidra

An avid home cook, I believe in using simple ingredients, local when possible and am inspired by the principles of supporting a sustainable food system. I’ve cultivated this blog as a way to share my passion for the preparation and enjoyment of food in a way that everyone from beginners to long time foodies can get involved in.

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