Some discussion came up on the Local Bite Challenge that I am involved with, about how very hard it actually is to raise and care for livestock and then slaughter it for meat. It’s even harder when just starting out at this, I know because we are new at this. The conversation made me revisit all the feelings last Fall when we harvested our first chickens and pigs in order to eat more locally and know our food better. These are my own personal feelings, and of course everyone has their own feelings on this.
Last year was our first year raising feeder pigs.
They were adorable, and were so funny to watch. We gave them a nice life in the pasture and woods edge with lots of room to roam, organic feed, garden scraps, wild apples, pumpkins and squashes, and an awesome wallow. Everything a pig could want and more. All that said, we tried super hard to keep in mind all the time what we were doing. I knew it would be really hard when the day came, and so I can’t say how often I reminded myself, as they were growing, what they were for, and that they were very cute livestock, not pets. I was warned against naming them but I wanted to know them as two separate pigs not, “the pigs”, so they were Ada and Bessie. I figured I would name them by the alphabet like tropical storms, lol, then I will always easily know how many we’ve raised! When the day came we had a monstrous mess up with our hog loading area, ugh – hard lesson learned, for these green farmers – and ended up having the butchering facility come out and harvest them on the farm and then take them right to the facility. The month just prior to this we had butchered our first chickens, and between that and the hogs I felt like I was finally taking responsibility for my food in the way I have wanted to for a long time. Gone are my conflicted feelings over purchasing meat. Personally, for me, yes, it was very hard to see, but I never want it to get “easy”, I don’t think it should be easy to take a life for food. What I also felt inside though was that it was the most honest way I ever put meat on to our plates.