The King is Dead – Long Live the King!

A Young Spitz

As I’ve mentioned the blog posts for part of December and most of January went missing in action due to our web hosting company having one of their server’s RAID controllers literally burn up frying the backup drive in the process. This led to a panoply of other successive failures such that my web site was intermittently down for weeks. That seems to have settled out. Now I’ll work on reposting some of the lost articles.

One such even that was lost was a death on the farm. Death is a familiar visitor to farms. If you have livestock you’re going to have deadstock. That’s the way of the world. In human society death is carefully swept away, hidden in body bags, makeup and caskets. On the farm it’s a bit more in your face.

On January 20th we had such an event which was the worst thing to happen all month: Spitz died. Spitz was our big Berkshire boar who has been the lead boar for years now. He lorded over the northern boar territory on the eastern slope of Sugar Mountain. He was a gentle giant, good with piglets, growing pigs, with his co-boars and with the ladies There is no clear cause of death and at only about five years old I had not expected this. He appears to have passed peacefully in his sleep.

The photo above is from when Spitz was a gangly youngster of only a few hundred pounds. The photo doesn’t do him justice when he was at his prime where he had massive shoulders, huge equipment out back and enormous hams. Spitz stood just about chest height to me. Based on the tape measure method Spitz was about 1,499 lbs at death. Call him an even three quarters of ton – larger than many cars and perhaps more powerful. This does not make him the largest boar on our farm, that title goes to Spot who was over 1,700 lbs. But Spitz was right up there in size and had more massive shoulders compared with Spot’s extreme length.

Spitz is succeeded by Q’Sox in the northern territory as well as Spitz’s son Spitzon in the south. Other head boars currently on our farm include Whitey, Tamtoo and an as yet unnamed black boar as well as several up and coming contenders.

Death happens and life goes on.

Outdoors: 31°F/24°F Partially Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 57°F/63°F

Daily Spark: Fear not immortality for death will find you.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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17 Responses to The King is Dead – Long Live the King!

  1. Jim Dorchak says:

    Do you castrate your bigger males and let them rest for a month or two before slaughtering to remove the boar taint?
    This is common there in Chile, and I have an older boar that is ready for the grill because he is not doing his job. Thanks for the answer in advance. Jim

    • No, we don’t do that. If the boars do not have taint then that is not necessary. See the article about Taint which goes into this topic in great detail. Be sure to read all the comments for additional details and follow through the links to more articles on this topic.

  2. Nancy Donovan says:

    Dear Walter;
    I have just text Patrick to tell him of the news…..How he loved that pig…. We were just on your sight this week, very happy to have you all back….and we were wondering how Spitz was and if he still was….and saying how we would love to visit this spring. What an amazing life he had! At some point, we would like to post his life story before he came to you…It’s really quite a story. For now, I will have a very big smile on my face today, thinking how lucky he was and that because of other tragedy, he ended up with you and your family, in absolute hog heaven. It’s the way they should all live. Thank you. So glad he has also left such a deserving legacy. Nancy, Spitz’s first grandmother…

    • Stephanie Kauffman says:

      What do you do with a 1500 lb dead pig that dies from unknown causes?

      • We composted him. See Big’Un Tusks, RIP Speckles and Spot Out. The nutrients return to the land to grow new forages, trees and things like pumpkins which in turn will in time feed the herds. It is the natural cycle of life.

        • Farmerbob1 says:

          Composting him certainly puts a lot back into the soil, but is there no market for fresh large animal corpses? I would think that a local zoo with large predator animals on exhibit might be happy to take in a fresh corpse of that size, and there might be a substantial tax write-off?

          That said, moving a 1500lb corpse is a lot easier said by an armchair farmer than done by an actual farmer in real life. Maybe you could have put him on a big pallet and loaded the pallet with the tractor? Then, of course, the zoo has to be able to get the pallet out of the van.

          Sorry for my mental meandering. Considering all the time and effort involved in such potential projects, I suppose composting the largest dead animals is probably less expensive in the long run if they die in an uncontrolled manner.

          If Spitz had been found alive but dying due to something like a severe prolapse or critically damaged limb, would there have been any realistic option of butchering him for sale as specialty cuts? I cannot even imagine the size of the hams that he would have produced. I suspect it would have looked like a cut of bronto-meat from the Flintstones.

          • There are no zoos around here and his head is worth for the skull and tusks far more than they would ever pay. I would rather have the organic fertilizer he would have than a tax write-off. The nutrients are worth far more. For large carnivores, there are our dogs who eat the equivelant of 30 whole finisher size pigs a year as a pack – they eat part or all of many who die on the farm. We did move him, a job for the tractor.

  3. aminthepm says:

    End of an era

  4. Wow, he was a big boar. Sounds like a good chap. I have a good chap too, a very gentle fellow but still a nipper compared to yours. How long would you have expected Spitz to live and keep working? And one more little question – at that size did he cover the smaller gilts as well? Glad you have your web problems sorted out – the internet is both a blessing and a curse sometimes. c

  5. Kay Bockman says:

    Hello Walter. I was going to ask if such large boars can’t injure a gilt or sow’s back but just saw the “three legs.” Does the three legs significantly reduce the weight on the female?

  6. karl says:

    “If you have livestock you’re going to have deadstock.” That statement resonates still–after five years leaving the farm. That was one of the first things my father-in-law said to me about farming/animal husbandry.

    It is difficult for city people to come to grips with.

    I’m glad you are getting back up on the interweb ;)

  7. Lisa says:


    So sorry for your loss, over the couple years we’ve farmed I have learned this lesson… I think it is the hardest lesson to accept.

    Will you do a post-mort on Spitz to see what may have caused his death?

  8. Melissa says:

    Geez. Sorry for the loss of one of your head boars—a new boy will step in but he will have other contributions to make, not the same at Spitz.

    ANd yes, raising livestock puts death front and center at times. ANd it comes in a variety of circumstances. Has increased my appreciation life and living. . . . and death, 100 fold.

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