On pig harvest, a diseased food system, and why every good witch has a cauldron
Here’s our process for harvesting all of our animals: an instantaneous death via a bullet in the brain immediately followed by the severing of arteries. Same, same everywhere you go, the only difference is “the stun”, that is the moment the animal is rendered brain dead. That can be done by bolt gun (usually the way in a slaughterhouse), electrocution (sometimes for pigs), or sometimes it’s not used at all (sheep and poultry are usually a lightening fast severing of those aforementioned arteries). On the day of harvest, we feed our animals something delicious and patiently wait for the perfect shot. Cattle are separated into another part of the pasture, usually a place that is lush and abundant with alfalfa and clover. They are thrilled to be alone for a few moments before their herd mates interrupt their good fortune. Pigs are kept together. Pig stress comes from separation. They don’t know what death is, they don’t fear it, but they fear being alone. When their pig-mates fall, they keep on eating.
And that’s the logistics. The very smallest part of the equation. Please read the big parts, the important parts of what it is to take the life of an animal you have cared for from birth at #slowdownfarmsteadharvest It’s the whole reason I’m here, the thing I want to share most: that caring for an animal, connecting with and developing a relationship with an animal is not separate from later eating that animal. In fact, they are, and should forever be, intimately connected.
From the field the pigs get brought to the scalder (that’s what I’m stirring up in the first pic). They then get their hair scraped off, then gutted with all the good stuff saved. Then we split them, use the tractor to bring them over to our shop, where the meat cooler is, lay them on our “magic cube” (it’s an ingenious set of cupboards on wheels with our butcher block top for butchering). We use the cube to wheel the meat to the back of the room where our meat cooler is to let it hang until the next day when it’s ready to cut.
Nature’s systems marry the good life of an animal with nutrient density. They live well, we eat well. This should not be an exception, it could be, and should be standard practice. We have the power to change things in this whack-job food system. But from your farmer or harvest from the wilds.
We have a freezer full of pork that tastes of the sweet apples and raw milk it was raised on. With flesh and fat hard from use, moving and rooting, running and rolling, in their forest utopia. You should too. We all should.
The industrial food system is sick and dying, the destruction of the planet and poor welfare of the animals hidden behind pretty boxes and cellophane. That’s no place to get your food.
We are at the beginning of a change and you, my friends, are pioneers in rediscovering what it is to truly nourish our bodies, the animals, and our planet. We are leaving legacies for our children. I know what I want mine to be. What about you?