Today was the day! We have been looking forward to this for months. Effie the Pig and the heifer ( and I mean that in EVERY sense of the word) went to Whispering Pines today. Shortly, we will have a freezer full of good clean meat. Meat having been raised on love, clean water, lots of grass and in the case of Effie, lots of kitchen scraps and melons too far gone for us to eat.
I am often asked, “How can you eat your animals, animals that you know?” Well, I must admit that sometimes it is hard. Francis Bacon was a pig that I loved. I patted him as we unloaded him and told him thank you. Effie, she was another story and pig all together. You see, some animals push your buttons and make life miserable. As you chase those animals around the farm, through your gardens, and out of the sheds – you find yourself thinking, ” I can’t wait to eat you!” Really, some animals are so determined to upend a farm’s balance and happiness that you even have ideas of just getting the shotgun and having roast pig luau style. I keep using pigs as an example and that should tell you something. Effie was one of those animals that was made for pulled pork sandwiches. So when she got out of the trailer, with much ado and drama I must say, I was like “Good riddance and don’t let the screen door hit you in the behind on the way out.” Very kind and loving, I know. But until you have chased a pig in Texas summer heat not once but three times in 5 days- don’t judge me.
In all honesty, I do take this seriously. The fact is that it takes life to sustain life. I am grateful to the animals that feed my family. I show them this by providing shelter, good food and clean water and plenty of kindness. They lead a joyous life, even if their joy is derived from causing me to cuss a blue streak, until the day they die and they never saw it coming. Most humans can’t say that about their own lives. Everyone has a job and purpose in life, farm animals are no different.
Most folks have problems with knowing the animals that they eat because in their minds they only have two files- Pet & Wildlife. The reality is that there are three files- Pet, Wildlife, and Food. All of our animals are stewarded as best we know how and treated humanly every step of the way. Some are destined to a long life as a breeder (which are sometimes considered pets and sometimes considered family members) and some will have a much shorter life and are destined for the freezer.
The butcher we use is very important to us. When you have taken the time to raise your own meat and treat the livestock in a certain manner, you want to know that they are handled humanly in the end. We do not have the resources to process the large animals we raise so we take them to Whispering Pines. This is a Mennonite community that are committed to peace. You might not agree with their philosophy, but that peace and calmness permeate the place and even the animals feel it. Cattle are very jumpy critters when stressed and will cause quite a ruckus. Every time we have taken our cattle in, they have trotted onto the scales and then right on out to the holding pen with 5 or 6 other steers just standing there like everyone took a large dose of Valium before they arrived. This is a wonderful bunch of folks and they make certain that you get the meat from the animal that you brought in to the shop. It makes it so much easier to leave you animals when you can do business with people like these.
So, the circle of life goes on and I am looking forward to getting the lard from our pig. I have never requested the lard before so this will be a new experience. I hear tell that baked goods made with lard and just addictive they are so good. We shall see!