Processing Pigs

Beware -- this is about processing pigs. 

As I write these words, George is shooting our pig, Flyer. I’m inside nursing and crying with the gunfire punch. George’s stomach is churning and William is very sad. Amelia’s method is to celebrate. She is creating a Slaughter Day Celebration.   George Wilder participates and then he is sad. He has lost a friend. And William did take his toy gun outside with him to shoot the pig after he was told he didn’t have to watch.

We decided years ago to raise our own meat when and if we could. We wanted our family to grow up knowing where their food came from and fully participating in that process.

We’ve raised chickens, sheep, and pigs. We’ve named them and loved them and then “kindly” eaten them. 

We love our pigs and we know them more as pets than we did the chickens and sheep. We pet them and talk to them and they are close to us when we play outside. Our hearts ache on slaughter day, but we know what we are doing is right and we are elated when we get to eat our first sausage biscuit!  William asks if we are eating our pig and proudly tells our visitors that they are eating “Bowler” – The last pig we slaughtered.

We are finding our moral, ecological, and emotional balance with all that we consume and right now as we prepare to eat our pig -- meat.

I do buy pork at the store when we run out and I’ve bought hamburger meat now and then when we can’t get it from George’s family (they raise cattle for meat) and George Wilder is desperate for a hamburger. And I do buy chicken about twice a year and a turkey at the holiday.

I’m not holistic. I’m not religious about it. I do have a strong strong desire to never buy meat from the store again, to only eat it if we are willing to slaughter it. Unless the animal was given the right kind of life. What is the right kind of life? I believe it is treating the process with respect:

Respectful treatment of the animal, of the factory workers, of the earth, of our bodies, and of the land.

So the question is one that we all have to consider and we all should decide how we will respond. Meat consumption is abusive. Fast food and over eating and eating a meat based diet has led to feed lots, hormone injections, bad meat, misuse of meat, too many fast food joints, too much obesity, and too much waste. I believe we should consider, all of us, how we are going to address this issue. The impact that eating meat has on our bodies, our earth, our atmosphere, and our land. Our relationship with meat is completely out of balance. We are the game changers. We are the ones that say – "I’m doing something different." Figure out what that different thing is. What will you do for you and your children and the next generation? How will we respect ourselves and our earth and the animals on it?

So we had a rough morning, which turned into a wonderful time as a family processing the pig literally and mentally.  I hope that it leads you to discuss your next hamburger stop or dinner choice or life choice.

On Pig Processing Day, a friend sent us this poem by Wendell Berry. I leave you with this --

For the Hog Killing
 Let them stand still for the bullet, and stare the shooter in the eye,
Let them die while the sound of the shot is in the air, let them die as they fall,
Let the jugular blood spring hot to the knife, let its freshet be full,
Let this day begin again the change of hogs into people, not the other way around,
For today we celebrate again our lives’ wedding with the world,
For by our hunger, by this provisioning, we renew the bond.


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