Sunday, January 29, 2012

goodbye kevin and bacon

Just in from feeding Kevin and Bacon their last meal, homemade apple pie. They ate like they always do, with pure bliss and purpose. In a few hours the butcher will be here to shoot, hang, skin and disembowel the two hogs and then load them into his truck to be wrapped and smoked. The next time I see them they'll be in plastic vacuum sealed freezer wrap as chops, bacon, and hams.

While I am prepared, I am always emotionally hit by such events. I don't feel guilt, but you can't raise an animal from a young thing without bonding on some level. So in a way, the Slaughter day is both a celebration of bounty and a time to pause, be grateful, and understand on a visceral level how much blood goes into glossy photos of restaurant dishes in magazines. And after a short spread of time that gore ebbs and flows into recipes and gatherings with friends, or sausage making work parties over home brewed mugs of beer. The death becomes a reason another story goes on. That is how it has always worked, but having a farm means I get to understand it. The difference between watching birds and hang gliding.

I have chosen to be a part of the entire story of my future meals. It's better this way.

P.S. The next post will be about the slaughter, there will be photos and content about how a farm kill and slaughter is done on small homesteads. If it makes you uncomfortable to see dead animals, skip the post. I think this is fair warning.

28 Comments:

Blogger Tara said...

Brace yourself. :)

January 29, 2012 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Beth of the Rocks said...

Do you help with the butchering? Do you think you'll ever do it yourself? I'm just curious because I'm heading to the country this spring, and am not sure about pigs yet.

Also, I love your cats!!
~Beth

January 29, 2012 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

I understand fully Jenna as I grew up having all kinds of animals that I bonded with and eventually had to prepare for food. The main ones I had to deal with were chickens & rabbits. I didn't get emotional about the chickens but sometimes it was tough doing a rabbit.

January 29, 2012 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Meagan said...

Great post and philosophy Jenna! I look forward to your next post. I didn't get a chance to raise pigs but it's a goal for my next farm!

January 29, 2012 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger East Branch Ranch said...

Good luck Jenna. I share the mixed feelings also. I am comforted by the fact that they have had a good, comfortable and productive life on our farm with lots of love. We raised a few animals (pigs included) on our farm that we butchered or that our son sold at the 4H fair market sale (always an abundance of tears on sale day from the youngest kids to the 4H seniors!). This year we are going to be butchering the first lamb born on our farm soon. It will be a bittersweet day I am sure.

January 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

I know you will always get flak about killing your animals and posting the "offensive" photos, but that is one of the things I read your blog for. I can't raise and butcher my own meat, but I always want to be mindful that meat means killing--and you help me do that. I admire your strength in being so unswervingly honest about how you feed yourself. So before you get that first angry comment about a bloody animal part (ie dinner), I want to say THANK YOU!

January 29, 2012 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Mindy said...

We should all be so aware. Thank you Jenna for sharing the experience.

January 29, 2012 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Your feelings about butchering day seem right to me.

Thank you for the warning about the upcoming pictures. I'm not offended by pictures of butchering--I think it's a good reminder where my tasty food came from--but I'll be sure not to read that post at work (where it might freak people out) or while I'm actually eating.

January 29, 2012 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Buttons said...

Oh finally no sugar coating real farming and sustainability. I admire the way you put this in to words. I too have eaten something I have cared and dare I say loved. This is part of the life of a farmer most choose to sweep under the rug.
Farmers are not heartless they love the animal and truly do give thanks to the gift it gives. There is no person that loves those animals and respects them more than a farmer.
Wow kind of preaching sorry about that you can delete me if you want.
Thank you for being real. B

January 29, 2012 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Buttons said...

That being said I find the older I get the harder it seems to get. B

January 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Apple pie as a final meal? Fair play!

January 29, 2012 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Jenna,

Thank you for this post.

I don't know why, but when I was in a hurry buying a sandwich, when I saw the person making it make a mistake and toss the sandwich aside, and start over, I envisioned asking the place to save tossed food for pigs. Pigs? Where did that come from?

Then I see your post. Trust me, I will never raise pigs, but I could barter for that.

But the reason it caught my eye is the reality that when I see the prices for local farm raised meat, I eat vegetables and peanut butter and make it tasty.

I wonder if we can find a way to grow the market and keep costs down.

Kate

January 29, 2012 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Erin and Scott said...

Nice post. The three cows my friends and I go in on we're slaughtered this morning. I feel the way you described. We have done this for years, with each member getting a 1/4 of grass fed well cared for beef. It is a great way to go. Have not had store beef in years. I always go for the slaughter, somehow it grounds me. I value a connection to what my family eats. Deer, wild turkeys, grouse, garden veggies. This connection is the way it should be. Way to go, Jenna.

January 29, 2012 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Thanks for the post. I was just eating bacon this morning, and wished I could have been more involved in the process (I bought it from the grocery). This is why I would like to farm - to be more involved in all steps of the process. Good luck - and thanks for writing this today.

January 29, 2012 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger candisrrt said...

I am fascinated with your homestead! I can't wait to see your next post.

January 29, 2012 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Melanie Ski said...

The circle of life. And what better way than you knowing exactly what you are feeding them, so you know exactly what you are feeding yourself! We moved off our large farm to a 6 acre place and have to start over with the animals. I haven't bought meat at the grocery because I just can imagine going back to eating that again!
Melanie
http://melanieski.blogspot.com

January 29, 2012 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger Desert Willow said...

Perfect keep it real and be involved…it’s not for the faint of heart but it makes for a life well lived. And by the way they look very well cared for, it will make their meat all the sweeter. Exactly the way it should be, lives lived full circle.

January 29, 2012 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger famousthecat said...

I'll be interested to learn how the process goes. We will be getting chicks in a couple of months for the first time ever, and I am already bracing myself for/thinking about when it will be time to kill them and butcher them. Le sigh...

January 29, 2012 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger April said...

They look so small or is that just they way they were photographed?

January 29, 2012 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger reliker said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the slaughter. As an animal lover, it's a bittersweet experience saying goodbye to an animal who was raised to serve such a specific purpose (I get attached to my livestock!). Glad you've also gotten over any trepidation in sharing how butchering happens on a small homestead.
-Rachael from The Rehomesteaders

January 29, 2012 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

These seem to be very small for slaughter; is there a reason you kill them so young?

January 29, 2012 at 6:54 PM  
Blogger phaedra96 said...

I have been a part of the process from pulling piglets being born to participating in the butcher process. Our pigs had a pen to run in, other piglets to play with, we played with them.....and then they became bacon and ham. We had steers that we raised for the same end result, chickens, turkies. They were well-taken care of, loved! and off they went. That was WHY they were there. Not as pets but food. They were not squashed in cages and lots, feed by-products of their own kind and hauled off terrified at the end. Which is more kind?

January 29, 2012 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Trekout2 said...

Jenna thanks for doing this post we will all learn from this experience ...

January 29, 2012 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

folks, that was the day Tara and I brought them home from the breeder! It was early October!

January 29, 2012 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

New butcher? I hope he is as kind and patient as the lady last year was with Pig. An animal couldn't ask for a better life and death than that. Thank you for reminding us of the reality of where our food comes from, and for showing respect and reverence for the lives being given. As always, you're a true inspiration.

January 29, 2012 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger April said...

Ahhh Thanks for clearing that up :D

January 29, 2012 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger kaelak said...

With an economics background, I think of it this way: demand for meat bring what it is, Kevin an Bacon are two happy, healthy, ethically raised pigs that will prevent two other pigs being factory-farmed (and all the inhumane horrors that entails). Your small bit to make the world a better place. I look forward to reading the next post.

January 29, 2012 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

hahaha dang i thought they were stunted! Didn't know apple pie did that to a piggy. Now I see their size next to the men.

January 30, 2012 at 8:58 PM  

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