Living with Pigs

Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.

-W. Somerset Maugham

I’ve been trying to figure out how best to proceed with the pig slaughter. Cory is convinced that I should be away from home when the deed is done to ensure I don’t hurl myself between pig and bullet, but I’m not so convinced. I’ve spent the last few days researching how to kill a pig. I wouldn’t recommend this as a pleasant pastime, especially if you have access to YouTube, but my overall fear has diminished. As they say, knowledge is power. My favorite account so far has been by Chuck Wooster of Sunrise Farm in White River Junction, Vermont. In his book Living with Pigs, Wooster devotes more than 2 full pages to “emotional preparation” for slaughter day, something no other source of my acquaintance did. He describes how he felt after his first pig slaughter…

“I was tired and dirty and ready for sleep…But I also felt a distinct skip in my step and an enormous sense of competence. It wasn’t just the pride of a job well done, though I certainly felt some of that. It was the pride of tackling a job that most people find too horrifying to even consider, let alone to discuss in polite company, and discovering that it wasn’t so bad after all. Discovering, in fact, that it was a job full of richness and meaning, wonder and learning. An unforgettable experience…”

This description strengthened my resolve to at least be there. I don’t think I’m ready to kill a pig myself. I’m terrified that my lack of experience would somehow result in suffering for Walter and Flo, something I could never forgive myself for, but I think I need to at least be there. I can’t leave the house one morning, scratch Walter behind the ears and then come home that night to find him in the freezer. I don’t need any more disconnect between my food and its source; I’ve had that my whole life. The goal now is to firmly and permanently make the connections, and maybe that means seeing this through to the end.


2 responses to this post.

  1. When I was little my family had animals that we raised for meat. At first they had normal names like Walter and Flo, but that proved too traumatic come harvest time. Later animals were named Pot Roast, Steak, Ham, etc… It gave us little ones a mental preparation for the inevitable.


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