Sunday, 14 November 2010

Goodbye and Thank You

Well, I have been out to the pig pasture and fed the pigs, giving Rimmel her last meal. I said thank you to her, watched as she happily guzzled her food pushing the others off their buckets in case they had something better than her, then she walked off to go and dig in the field. I re-arranged the gate access so that the following morning would be easier and therefore not stressful to her, whispered my goodbyes, and walked away hoping against hope that we had given her a happy life. For tomorrow morning the butcher arrives to help Ben slaughter her and she will provide food for our family for the winter. It was a hard call for me to make to Claude, our new butcher, as we have never willingly killed an animal in its prime before. I cry as I write this.

Her life has been, and will be, honoured by our family. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are trying to be sustainably responsible omnivores and that means facing up to where one's meat is coming from. We are raising our own pigs because the pork that is readily available in supermarkets and most butchers has been reared like this...

... and this, in our opinion, is cruel and degrading. Rimmel has known nothing but freedom since the day she was born and will end her life tomorrow in the fields where she grew up with her nose in a bucket of delicious breakfast.

Vegans and vegetarians may scoff at the idea that farmers can be, or are, deeply emotional about the animals in their care, and with industrial farming as the reference, I cannot blame them. On a homesteading farm however the contradiction, the paradox, of lovingly killing animals in order to eat them is resolved in the depth of the emotion and care given to their living moments. Care is more than an activity on this farm, it is an ethic - an ethic that permits, and demands, the development of a deep bond between us and an animal that we may kill or have killed to eat. The fact of slaughter does not nullify the ethic of care.

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