Archive for June 24, 2009

Have You Ever Noticed….

Have you ever noticed that when you have an injury, it seems that the injured member continually gets jarred, jostled, and stepped on over and over?

I had occasion to notice it once again this afternoon.

I was running to answer the phone when my lil’ piggy came in violent contact with the wooden leg of a large chair. I continued at a more sedate pace into the kitchen where SwampMan was waiting for me so he could ask when dinner was going to be ready. He took one look at me and asked how I hurt myself. And when was dinner going to be ready?

“How do you know I hurt myself?” I inquired.

“You’re limping, and you had your hand over your mouth so that you wouldn’t be shouting out very unladylike language in the house.” Dang, I hate it when somebody knows me that well.

I examined my toe which was twice its normal size and turning an alarming shade of purplish black. The end of my foot was also swelling and turning purplish black, the bruising and swelling extending over the top of my foot to my middle toe. Wondering if it was broken, I flexed it experimentally.

After I quit yelling really naughty words at the top of my voice, I had no doubt whatsoever that that bitch was broke! Unfortunately, it was broken right before feeding time for the animals and time to cook for us.

So, I forced my swollen toe/foot into my shoe while attempting to keep the whimpering (and cussing) to a minimum and limped outside to feed. In the first pen of chickens, a young hen decided to sit on my shoe directly over my injured toe. She’d never done it before, so why did she have to start this behavior tonight? She probably didn’t weigh but 3 lbs. at the most. The only thing that saved her from being stomped to death was that it would have been even more painful (to me) than screeching “GETOFFGETOFFGETOFF GAWDAMNIT” to a chicken that clearly didn’t understand English and so contentedly sat there on my foot, gripping my injured toe tighter with her little toenails to keep her balance, while I was trying to shake her off gently to avoid jarring my toe any further.

After limping around cussing chickens, I was able to finish feeding ‘em. My old blind and deaf canine pal Odie knew something was wrong. He could tell I was limping awkwardly and apparently knew I was injured so every single time I came to a halt, he stood protectively in front of me, his body forming a barrier between me and whatever danger might be lurking that he could no longer see or hear. While standing in front of me guarding me, his front paws landed on my left lil’ toe several times. *sigh* Then off to the sheep barn.

Since the sheep stampede toward the feed bucket, I filled up a couple troughs inside the barn from outside through windows, thinking that perhaps when I went inside the barn to fill up the last trough, the sheep would be so engaged in eating that they wouldn’t come rushing over and trampling my toes. Snort. No such luck. The sheep were convinced that the best feed was that which was still in the bucket and the sheep that got to the bucket first would get the goodies. Toe trampled by several sheep. As I was leaving the barn, one of the blasted sheep was standing on a poor lil’ baby duck’s foot while duckling was crying and the mother duck was energetically attacking the sheep’s leg in an attempt to free her baby. I was heading back to the sheep barn in order to free my fellow sufferer when his momma succeeded in convincing the sheep to move it’s damn leg.

Then it was off to feed the mare at an awkward hobble. Luckily for me, since I was unarmed, the mare didn’t stomp on my toe. I don’t think I could have stood that.

Then back to the house to feed the dogs and cats. Just when I thought I was home free, my Princess cat slowly walked directly in front of my injured foot and then stopped. I stumbled over her and stubbed my toe, and then she yowled angrily at me in a snit. How dare I trip over her just because she walked directly in front of my foot while I was walking? An accident? I don’t think so. I think she was pissed off at me because I didn’t have any canned food to add to her kibble tonight.

SwampMan is fed, and the dishes are not going to get washed tonight. I’m off to prop up my injured foot and whine. Just as soon as I go outside to check out what pup is barking at.

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Rare, Tasty Pig Breed Rescued From Extinction

From Scientific American:

If you like ham, the Spanish food company La Tienda is betting you’ll just love the meat from the Hungarian Mangalica pig, a rare breed that almost disappeared less than 20 years ago.

The distinctive Mangalica pig—known as much for its curly hair as for its fatty flesh—was saved so it can be sold and eaten.

At one time, only 198 purebred pigs remained in the world. Farmers preferred other breeds. “The corpulent Mangalica grows very slowly and cannot be kept in closed quarters. It is therefore poorly suited to modern industrial pig farms, and it has been gradually replaced by modern breeds,” according to the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in Florence, Italy.

The resurrection of the Mangalica has been the mission of Juan Vicente Olmos, the head of Spain’s Monte Nevado ham company, and geneticist Peter Tóth, who tracked and purchased the last pigs from farms scattered throughout Hungary. After less than two decades of intense breeding, the Mangalica population has now increased one-hundred-fold, with 20,000 pigs living in Spain and Hungary.

If you’re hungry for Mangalica ham, it’ll cost you, though. A nine-pound ham goes for $490.

Meanwhile, the resurrection of the Mangalica has become a matter of pride in Hungary, where there is now an annual Mangalica Festival devoted to the pig (and its hams, salamis, sausages and other meat products).

Of course, a breed (like the Mangalica) is not a species, so it couldn’t technically go extinct. Still, the salvation of the pig and its unique genes remains a victory. The Mangalica may not be suited to modern commercial livestock production, but it does contain genes that don’t exist elsewhere. Some of those genes make it more suitable to cold, mountainous regions. Who knows when and where those rare genes could be of use?

And obviously, trying to save endangered creatures by eating them is, in most situations, a ludicrous idea. But at least in this case, it seems to have worked.

The rare breeds of livestock are rare because they may not grow as big or lean a carcass as is desirable today. Taste has nothing to do with it; in fact, since fat carries flavor, the leaner the carcass, the less flavor. The (now) rare breeds thrived in the past because they did well in their niche environment with a minimum of care and they tasted good.

I grew a nearly extinct hog breed for awhile here in Florida, the Missouri Mulefoot pig. I had to quit because the state of Florida made it nearly impossible to continue.

When I served my bacon and sausage to people, they were astounded. “This tastes like the bacon/sausage/pork that I used to eat when I was a kid! I didn’t know it could still taste that good!”

The supermarket pork is like supermarket chicken. It is raised because it does well in confinement, not because it tastes good. If you want a good-tasting piece of meat, you need to go to the old breeds that are facing extinction.

Organizations like PETA decry the eating of meat but, without a market, those animals would have gone extinct after generations of being developed because they thrived in their particular area and they tasted good. There’s no reason to spend a lot of money feeding and housing an animal if it doesn’t bring in income and large hogs don’t make the best house pets.

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