I can’t say I didn’t feel a pang of guilt and sadness as I ate the first bite of pork from our KuneKune boys Buddy and Pal last night. They were such gentile creatures who would come when I called for them, snorting happily all the way across the yard. They lived a good life free to roam in and out of their pen as they pleased.
I’m not going to post a photo of them in this post because I don’t think I could look at one of those cute little faces yet. I took hundreds of photos of their stubby little snouts, curly tails and fuzzy ginger fur.
The truth is, their last day went terribly. It was stressful for them to be loaded onto a trailer and driven an hour away in the rain. It was stressful to offload them into another farmer’s barn. We did our best to push and shove them up and down the trailer ramps and through doors. Pigs are STRONG.
Butchering them was fine, educational in fact. It was killing them that still makes me sick thinking of it. I will spare you all the details.
It is NOT easy to kill a pig. For one, you are aiming at a walnut-sized brain through a massive thick skull. The farmer we brought them to had done it before and was teaching us. He had actually worked at a slaughter house in the past.
He missed. It wasn’t his fault and he apologized over and over. Then he had to follow the pig around to take a second shot. It felt like it took forever. It was so terrifying, a shock to my system. I was brave and stayed to see it through.
It’s important to me to be a part of the animals life to the very last moment so I’m fully appreciative and kind of ‘at one’ with the animal. I’m sure this seems disgusting to some. But it’s part of my farm ethics of sorts.
We had bought a third pig from that farmer and that went even worse. Too bad to write about. All of my hard work raising happy and gentile livestock went out the window in a matter of minutes. Maybe I’m not built for this after all.
I have butchered chickens, ducks, geese, deer, and rabbits to feed our family before. All were clean and quick kills and it didn’t bother me much. I had snuggled bunnies I knew were meant for the stewpot. It’s part of farm life.
If we do pigs again I’m shooting them myself, I decided. I would rather it be at my hand and feel like I did the very best I could do to make it quick. Like they never knew it was coming. Their last thought would be about tomorrow’s slop goodies, and then nothing more. I would do it at home where they would never be stressed in transport or delivery.
The butchering went smoothly and the farmer showed us where to cut with a Sawzall and well-sharpened knives on a long white table in his kitchen. I ran the seal-a-meal machine as the cuts were made, packing the meat tightly into a cooler with layers of ice as we went.
The KuneKune boys were mostly fat. We will not be getting that breed again due to the lack of meat. As I type, I’m rendering their lard on the wood stove. The much larger pig we bought (well, traded hay for) was HUGE in comparison. It was so long it barely fit on the table.
As we did our work, the farmer told us he had a long line of stitches in his thigh from a big pig. They scare me. That’s why I’d gone with a smaller and more docile breed to begin with. I never want an animal I’m afraid of on our farm. And I don’t want any animals to be afraid of me.
I dreamed about them greeting me for morning slop just before awaking this morning. I feel like I did them wrong. Poor Buddy and Pal. In my dream I was the only one who could see them. Like little piggie ghosts who didn’t hold it against me. I’m going to go upstairs, curl up into fetal position hidden under a blanket and cry now.