North

Women experiment with pig raising in Old Crow

A group of women in Old Crow, Yukon decided to try pig raising. They say they may not do it again, but were glad for the experience.

Three pigs were flown into Old Crow in the spring and recently butchered

Francis Ross, Sophia Flather and Megan Williams raised pigs in Old Crow, Yukon, this summer. (Leonard Linklater)

Three little piggies were flown into Old Crow, Yukon, this spring and those three little piggies recently went to the market, or into the freezer. 

Frances Ross, Sophia Flather and Megan Williams decided to try pork farming this summer as a way to raise food locally. None of them had raised pigs before, although Williams had experience raising chickens. 

The conclusion?

"It's pretty cost prohibitive and even effort prohibitive," says Ross.

She says it cost hundreds of dollars to buy the pigs and their feed and fly it all into Old Crow. That's expensive bacon, but groceries are expensive to buy locally, regardless. 

The project wasn't without its successes. Ross says many people from the community chipped-in by feeding food scraps to the pigs and the Old Crow Co-op helped by donating old food. 

"Those pigs ate a lot of bananas, a lot of brown bananas,says Ross with a laugh. "We fed them a lot of expired hamburger buns."

Sophia Flather feeds this summer in Old Crow. Francis Ross says raising pigs was a lot of work. (Leonard Linklater)

The greenhorn pork farmers had a stroke of good luck at slaughter time. Ross says the women were doing internet research on how to slaughter the pigs when along came a visiting farmer from New Zealand. 

"In walks this guy who [has] slaughtered about six to 12 pigs a week for decades of his life and so we had pretty much the best person on hand to help us out."

Although the women probably aren't going to take to raising pigs again anytime soon, the experiment did emphasize the value of "living close to the land" and taking advantage of the availability of moose and caribou, says Ross.   

Food security is an issue in Old Crow. Last winter, the community was without a grocery store for a short period of time while the Co-op was under construction. Coupled with that was a below-average caribou harvest

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