Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pig Slaughter and Firewood

Today is the day the pigs will be harvested. It's unusually warm, or was this morning anyway. As the day goes on the temperatures will drop and the wind will pick up and by the darkness before dawn, we should be well into the single digits. Today I'll be preparing for the cold, stacking firewood and preparing the house. But before any of that (or pig slaughtering) could start I had an errand to run. I needed hay, bad. Down to two bales the horses, sheep, and goats were counting on me.

I was with Gibson, driving north with the windows were down. Daydream Believer came on the radio, and I sang along with it. Gibson wagged his tail. I was in a great mood. Heading up route 22 to fill up a truck with bales, my right-hand man riding blunderbust. The sun was out and the thermometer read 45 degrees. If you are going to kill pigs, this would be the day to do it. No frozen hands today. No sir.

A trio of experienced traveling butchers will be arriving and taking care of everything from the hog's death to their disembowelment, their skinning and halving. I feel blessed to have folks like this a phone call away. Most of the stress of slaughter for these animals isn't the moments of agony in death, but in the transferring to the abattoir. Animals get confused and scared from such change, and may spend a day or two waiting in concrete stalls, cramped or stressed while they wait their ending. My pigs will die in the same place they have spent the last three months sleeping and eating. It will surprise the hell out of them. There are worst ways to go.

It will happen so fast, and be just a sliver of their time here at Cold Antler. I won't pretend slaughter day death isn't horrific, it is. But done right it is quick as possible and from the moment the gun is fired to the animals are bleeding out and gone from this life, is literally two minutes. I don't like watching it, but I always do. I feel it is my responsibility to be a part of the whole process, from piglet in a dog crate squealing in my arms to the day their heads are on a snowbank.

It's a day I look forward to, and I mean that without any harshness or disrespect. Today is the day the work of raising the animals is done and they will serve their purpose. I started the day singing, and I will end it a bit more somber, but not without joy. The death of the pigs is a cause for celebration, feasts, and the promise of more piglets soon. Pork shares help keep this farm going strong.

Photos and more to come throughout the day.


Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

What caliber rifle is used for the slaughter?

January 20, 2013 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger WillowBrookFarm said...

This is the way meat should be done! So happy for you, I too am so glad I found someone to help me with my cow this fall instead of stressing the poor thing out having to send him away, not sure I could do that.
Hope the day goes well!

January 20, 2013 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger QuilterMary said...

Good luck today!

January 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

"May all your animals live a glorious life, with just one bad day" - Joel Salatin

January 20, 2013 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger TransFarmer said...

will you be checking the livers and innards today so there is no repeat from last year?

January 20, 2013 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

Thank you for continuing to tell your story - it's an important reminder of the headspace more of us need to be in about our meat.

January 20, 2013 at 9:29 PM  

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