Since I was a child and I realized meat was actually muscle and there was no part on the animal that was just grown as “meat” I started to think differently about animal consumption. Somehow that realization made meat all the more real: like i was eating their very essence. From that point on I started to believe that if one eats meat they need to somehow be involved in the animal: preferably all the way to slaughter. At least once to really understand and be grateful for its sacrifice. Thus where I am today: farmer.
I believe the boys had a good life. They did everything a pig could want: eat, sleep, play, forage, explore, cuddle, make friends and have sex. It was a full 6 months of life (6 months today!)
I feel good about how they were treated…but it was time to go. They were starting to get a little big and a little pushy. Gorby knocked me over for cuddles which is cute now, but not later at 800 lbs. Wilbur I sold half to some friends, so he had to be slaughtered and processesed with a USDA stamp of approval. This morning the plan was to kill Wilbur and later I would do Gorbechev. I got up and took some pictures with the first animal I’ve raised and slaughtered.
Dang it. At least Gorby looks handsome
Finally I got a good picture!
Last minute we decided to include Gorby…but before that decision I broke my camera. Crap. So no pictures of me and Gorby cuddling. 😦 I also wanted pictures of the slaughter process, but alas, i was stupid. —
The slaughter guy showed up late, but no matter. The boys were ready to go. asked if he wanted to use grain and the fellow felt it was unnessecary. He honed in on Wilbur who was curious at the man in rubber pants with the big machine behind him. As he pulled the trigger Wilbur moved and he missed the brain. Wilbur squealed and ran off: all the other pigs got alerted and worried. Rosie was on the other side of the fence Wilbur had run to and she watched the slaughterer take another shot and bleed out. All the animals were watching. The sheep were staring wide eyed. Rosie? I’m not sure what she thought, but last i checked she was cuddling with her kids in the woods.
That was not how I wanted it to go. I was rather upset, but he did die pretty quick after the second shot. Gorby was concerned: he wanted to get out of there! I let Gorby settle down and the fellow process Wilbur before we did Gorby. Gorby came back up to me and I fed him some grain.This time the shot landed in the right spot and there was not even a squeal.
I can’t imagine spending all day every day killing animals for a living, at some point it must warp you. While the fellow was fine I felt like he did brush off animals intelligence a bit. “Aw, pig’s forget fast.” “It don’t bother them if they watch: they don’t know whats going on. After the first one they want to start eating up the blood.” From what I observe animals do know something about death. I am sorry Rosie had to see her son die. Rosie has been anxious the past few days, so I hope she can forgive me and not see me as implicit in the murder. I wanted to kill him out of everyone else’s sight, but the slaughter felt it unnecessary.
Overall, I feel good about it. Wilbur’s trauma did not last long Gorby didn’t know what hit him. I will be grateful for every bite I take, but feel guiltless because they had a wonderful life. I was there from the moment that were born to the moment they died. They died 100 yards from where they were born exactly 6 months ago. And I can say now: I truely know what goes on into the making of meat. Its not a magical product that appears plastic wrapped in the grocery store. It was a life. A being. A personality. A spirit. And I am grateful for what I have taken from them. I will always love my little boys, and they will become part of me. I will literally always carry a little bit of Wilbur and Gorbachev in me.
(….and with all the bacon it will probably end up carried in my heart! Now that’s love!)