“I will never marry a hog farmer.”
Well, you know what they say, NEVER say never.
My Aunt Megan grew up as what I suppose you’d call a “city girl.” She had no interest in raising livestock or working on a farm. But, it just so turned out, the good Lord had indeed chosen a hog farmer as her mate, and that man just happened to be my Uncle Fred. Her family finds great pleasure in never letting her forget the insistent declaration that she would never live on a hog farm and the fact that things turned out quite the contrary. Life is full of surprises, and I think that’s a good thing. We sure love having Megan in our family, and she had found it a blessing to be a farm wife.
One dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon, I walked down the familiar gravel path at the farm my grandparents had lived at during my childhood to the farrowing house, the building housing the mother pigs and their babies. The door of the house opened and out came Aunt Megan in her polka-dot “hog boots” (rubber rain boots) holding a baby pig wrapped up in her sweatshirt. The poor little thing was sick, and she was taking it to the house to nurse it back to health.
As I walked with her to the truck, we talked about life and how it has changed for her. Before falling in love with my uncle, she would have spent this dismal afternoon curled up on the couch with a good book, or perhaps scrap-booking. Now, she works alongside her husband doing chores. It’s work that has to get done and she welcomes the chance to spend time with him.
“It gives him a chance to tell me about something he knows a lot about,” she says.
For Fred and Megan, life is a team effort. They’re in it together, whether that means packing up supper and delivering it to the field or caring for newborn piglets.
Farm life is an adjustment. So much of it depends on weather and other things a person has no control over, which mean the schedule is irregular and unpredictable. Even so, it’s also a worthwhile adventure. There are lots of new experiences and things to learn.
Living on a hog farm also means lots of pork. Prior to meeting Fred, Megan hadn’t cooked a lot of pork, but now she has a collection of recipes for pork chops, pork loin, and other pork products. She shared one of her latest favorites.
Boneless Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Thyme
10 oz pork, boneless loin chops, 2-5oz center cut chops, trimmed, 1/4″ thick
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium shallot minced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 cup dry vermouth or unsweetened apple juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp thyme
Sprinkle Pork Chops with salt and pepper. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the pork chops and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to 2 serving plates; tent with foil to keep warm!
Swirl oil into the pan, add shallot, and cook, stirring until soft about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and begin to brown about 2 minutes. Add vermouth/juice and cook for 15 seconds. Stir in mustard, thyme, and any juices that have accumulated from the pork; cook until the sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, 1-2 minutes more. Spoon the sauce over the pork chops and serve immediately.
Also good for leftovers too!
University of Illinois student