Pig Talk II: The End
My brother’s pigs took their last ride today, hauled away on a sunny spring afternoon in a small flatbed trailer. They should have shipped out earlier but the winter was so hard and the spring so wet, no truck could get from the lane to the barn. The ground was just too soggy. Even today there was some drama when the truck got stuck next to the barn.
I had greeted Greg-the-pig-hauler when he drove up. I went out to bring Zeus in the house; I thought his barking might upset the pigs more than they already were. As it turns out, the pigs were not upset in the least. They were in their pig pen doing pig things.
About 10 minutes later, my brother, who was at a school function with his daughter, called to say Greg’s truck was immobilized by squelching mud. My soon-to-be son-in-law, Brian, went to help. We also called Andrew from down the lane who has a four-wheel drive truck. Between the three of them — Brian, Greg, and Andrew — the pigs were loaded and the truck rescued from the mucky mire.
And now the pigs are gone. By this time tomorrow they will be on their way to becoming bacon, pork chops, pork tenderloin, babyback ribs, ham and hocks. Everything we love about pigs in the first place.
All weekend I was sad about the pigs. I reasoned they didn’t know their fate; they were doing their thing in the barn, oblivious, eating pig food, enjoying their muddy yard, their clean straw and their fresh water. As I cooked dinner, I filled a big bowl with asparagus stalks, potato peelings, discarded lettuce leaves, half eaten English muffins, and some leftover rice. The pigs would have a treat on their last morning. When I took a few pictures of the 300+ pounders, they looked at me with their little piggy eyes and, as far as I could tell, not a worry. So I said goodbye and went back to the house.
Brian later told me the pigs marched into the truck without a squeal or a prod. And I have decided that’s a very good thing.
These pigs never knew fear. They were never crowded into pens or corralled and pushed through long chutes. They were, as we food writers like to say, “raised humanely.”
The pigs packed on the pounds in fields where they rooted and snuffled and rolled in puddles. They spent the winter in an old barn with new straw, plenty of food, and a roomy outdoor space, where they rooted and snuffled and rolled in slurping mud. When my brother arrived to feed them, he was greeted with contented oinks and grunts. If someone else fed them, they got the same welcome.
Was it hard to see them go? It was. Do I regret knowing these porkers the little I did? No. Would I like to see Dick raise more pigs next year? I honestly don’t know. Will I have trouble eating the meat to come? I doubt it.
I suspect we’ll all honor those meals when they arrive on the table and remember the pigs who made them possible.
copyright © Mary Goodbody