I have people ask me all the time "how can you eat or butcher an animal that you have taken care of? Don't you get attached?" Seven months ago, I said no, I don't get attached. That's because up until that point, I only raised poultry for meat. And chickens, well, they're chickens. Sure, I felt something while I was killing, plucking, and gutting them. And every single bird that I killed, I thanked for its sacrifice. I don't appreciate them any less, I just never got attached.
I hauled my pigs away to the slaughterhouse this morning after caring for them day in and day out for the past seven months and raising them from thirty to three hundred pounds. I can't help but reflect on the whole experience that has taken a toll on me emotionally in a way I didn't expect.
, Pigs are not like chickens, they have big, incredibly hysterical personalities that are akin to a dog's. They greet me at the fence everyday whether it be because I'm going in to feed them or just walking by. Whatever the circumstance, they come barreling down squealing and grunting with tails wagging hoping for a good scratch behind the ears or perhaps a snack. Their eyes are human-like that show expression, emotion, and they really look at you. It is impossible not to get attached to an animal that's so intelligent and personable.
Taking them this morning I had my doubts. I thought, should I be doing this? As much as it tore me up inside to drop them off sending them to their slaughter, even still having them wagging their tails and trying to get scratches through the stock trailer, I know in my bones what I'm doing is right. I am a meat eater. This will not ever change, and I can't stand the thought of eating some animal raised on a cement pad in a building that never gets to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. That is no life, and not how animals should be raised. Just because they are our food, does not mean that they don't deserve a quality life. We are what we eat after all, and they are what they eat.
So, does it take a toll on me that I sent my beloved boys off to be killed so I can eat? Yes, I am sad. And yes, I cried as I pulled away. But, the thought of supporting factory farming, the mistreatment of the animals, and their poor diet wears on me heavier. My pigs had the ultimate life for the past seven months. They rooted to their heart's content, wallowed, took naps in the shade of the woods, played in the summer's rain, and they ate damn good. Knowing that I did right by them, and gave them the best life they could have possibly had solidifies that I know I did the right thing.
Bacon Face and Piggy Cent will always be our first pigs, and for that they will be remembered and will always be special to us. We learned so much from them, and yes, they were loved. We will continue to do what we are doing, and although I may be able to become less attached overtime, it will never be easy. If it does, then I fear that I have become detached from the reality of the situation or somehow become less appreciative of my animal being sacrificed so I can eat. And that is not okay. The point of all of this is to be up close and personal with my food, know where it comes from and how it's raised. With that exposure comes some level of attachment.
So, I will allow myself to feel sad and miss them. But, I also look forward to the delicious and incredibly nutritious food they will provide and next year's piglets. Even as I sit here and type this, I look out my office window to where right about now I would see them sprawled out taking a nap in the mid-day sun, and I miss them. So I will let myself feel sad and miss them, but I will move on and continue to do this. Even if it isn't easy, I know it's right, and makes me appreciate my time with them that much more.
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