Monday, November 5th, was the day slated for “finishing” the pigs. Leading up to that day, we read books, blogs, websites, and anything else that could guide us toward the most gentle and humane way possible to transform these lovely piggies into pork.
But, let me back up for a moment before diving into the story of the day.
Before reading this entry, which will fill you in on the preparation, execution, and follow-up to the last day for Pork Chop, Hammy, and Bacon, please understand some things about who we are and why we’ve made the decisions we’ve made. This part is important to us.
David and I absolutely love animals. We revere and respect them and have, in our every deliberation, tried to honor them while making use of them for food. What this means for these three pigs is that we have spent our time with them giving them the happiest, healthiest, and most loving environment possible in which to spend their days. We have fed them only organic mash and corn, as well as the beautiful composted materials from our own and applewood’s kitchens. We have provided them with shelter, clean water, a kiddie pool in summer (for cooling off), a pond to wade in, and clean, dry hay to sleep on. We have scratched them in all the places they like best: Hammy loved to have his jowls scratched, Pork Chop was a sucker for a belly rub, and Bacon just liked to be able to rub her big ol’ body against our rubber boots whenever she got the chance.
We talked to them, we laughed at their silly behavior, and we’d stand in the moonlight listening to Hammy snore. Basically, we gave them love and they returned it. We never lost sight of their intended purpose, however, and that became increasingly hard to think about as the time drew near.
We collected all of the materials necessary to finish all three pigs. We borrowed a .22 from one friend and a tractor with a bucket lift from another. We purchased hooks for hanging, saw blades, scrapers, and even a brand new 55 gallon drum. We invited friends to come and help us. We assembled our equipment and mustered our courage. When they reached (and then passed) slaughter weight, there was no question that it was time to enter into this part of the journey.
Our good friends, Sean Whalen and Geoffrey Young came out to help. We could not have gotten through this day without them. Other folks came and went throughout the day, but these two really made the process possible. Here is a picture of Sean (left) and Dave (right) moments before starting the process.
I cannot stress enough how amazing Sean and Dave were throughout this experience. While almost everything went smoothly and according to plan, other things proved far more challenging than we could have anticipated. It was a long, difficult, emotionally taxing, and humbling day.
After the shooting and the bleeding, we needed to begin the unbelievably difficult task of scalding and scraping to remove the skin and hair. The enormity of this job should not be underestimated. It took us until the third pig to figure out the best system and the ideal tools for the job. It was a learning process of significant proportion.
In the end, however, Hammy, Bacon, and Pork Chop provided us all with a powerful life experience. We did what we set out to do and ended their lives with the respect, love, and dignity that we believe they deserved.