Coming to Terms

Coming to Terms

I can’t keep a dozen pigs for the rest of their lives.  Caring for twelve two hundred pound animals through good times and bad for the next fifteen to twenty years is a commitment of energy, time and money beyond my reach.  If the decision were entirely up to me or if I were surrounded by a team of like-minded people, making such a commitment may approach the realm of possibility.  Or, at the very least, it would buy me and my pigs some time.  But it’s not entirely up to me, and I have no team.

My focus, now, must shift from keeping my pigs alive to killing them in the most humane and effective manner.  In the past I have farmed out the killing to a slaughterhouse just outside of Bangor.  An act of convenience, yes, but cowardice as well.  I do know people who, with a little research, have done the job themselves, but I can’t see how that would help either me or my pigs.  Competence and professionalism will narrow, but not eliminate, the odds of something going horribly wrong, and it’s my responsibility to bring those odds as close to zero as possible.   An option unavailable seven years ago is the mobile slaughterhouse.  The stress of transport and being in a cramped, unfamiliar place is eliminated.  The goal is to stick to Merriam Webster’s first definition of slaughter and avoid as much of the second as possible.

From the 10th Edition of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:  slaughter vt (1535) 1  :  to kill animals for food : BUTCHER   2   a : to kill in a bloody or violent manner:   SLAY    b  :  to kill in large numbers  :  MASSACRE    3  :  to discredit or demolish completely

Here’s what is most likely to happen:  In a few weeks I will witness a pig killing by the above mentioned mobile slaughterhouse to see how well the process fits with my idea of what needs to happen and how.  At some point before the end of the year, I will, with the help of professionals, slaughter my six largest pigs.  The remaining six will get to live and grow another year.  A couple weeks ago I met with Nathan (from whom I bought my pigs) to discuss possibilities.  He noted that my pigs are considerably more friendly than his, and it occurred to me at the time that the attention I have devoted to my pigs may make it possible to kill them while they are fully relaxed, eyes closed and enjoying a belly rub.  The complete betrayal of trust and irony of this are difficult to consider.

I’m not going to eat my pigs.  I’ll leave that to others.  And in the future when someone asks me why I don’t eat pigs, I’ll have a story to tell.




2 Replies to “Coming to Terms”

  1. Sort of the walrus and the carpenter, isn’t it? Well, we had our pork tonight, and there is a package of pork in the freezer, but, after that, beans and eggs for protein….

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