This Little Piggy
If you look after your own livestock for the table you want to do it all the way to the point of kill and be utterly respectful to the animals that will feed us
Monday, late afternoon and I have had my first earful from an animal lover! Monday is Pig Day at the local slaughter house and our three Gloucester Old Spots from the Community Garden in the village have gone on the first stage of their journey into hams and sausagemeat for Christmas. It was as good as it could be in the circumstances.
The circumstances are that the Parish Council, from whom we lease our land, will not allow us to have the mobile slaughter man to kill in situ. This is to prevent any upset to passers by. Well, given the mini rant on the pavement they may have a case, but doesn’t it underline the detachment we have from our food and the rather absurd arguments of animal ‘lovers’? We are fortunate to have a mobile man in the area. He is a craftsman (part-time slaughter man, part-time undertaker), cleaning the carcasses beautifully of all hair and presenting us with gorgeously tender meat from completely non-stressed animals. If you look after your own livestock for the table you want to do it all the way to the point of kill and being on hand to help this guy is utterly respectful to the animals that will feed us. It’s legal as the meat is for our own consumption and not for sale. Even the last pig pays no attention to the fate of its sty-mates as there is no fear, squealing or need to shove the animals into a trailer and drive them round the countryside on small bendy lanes to a lairage of equally non-plussed porkers.
So, the pigs had no supper yesterday and were tricked into the trailer, thick with clean straw in case the country corners proved too difficult for their balance, hungry for a morsel of breakfast. Gloucesters are stocky pigs and, had they escaped into the allotment, the trip would have been aborted as they would have pumped up their adrenalin as we tried to regain control. Luckily, we had metal hurdles and a bid to emulate the Tamworth Two was nipped in the bud. Loading is not the worst bit - the unloading upsets me more as, on arrival, the pigs know that all is not normal and they try to stay in the trailer, necessitating pushing, shoving and shouting to get them out. I hate it and opt for the paperwork - but I hate that too!
I love animals but I eat meat and believe that we need to know more about our food and where it comes from. In the village co-op none of us like the fact that the pigs have to go but we know as we send them away that they have had the best life with fans and friends, lots of room to play, plenty of scratches and rubs while they will accept them and plenty of veg, acorns and fruit. We wish we could kill in situ but we know that we shall never be able to. I can opt to return to a co-op on private land and then the mobile man can come again. But for the others in the village who so enjoy keeping the pigs for great tasting meat, there will always be this unsatisfactory end. I find it harder to speak to people about the kill as I don’t agree with the option that we have to take but, I know, that in a village situation it is probably right with our supermarket, plastic package mentality.
I must go now as the turkey crowns for the Youth Club supper for the elderly in the village are now ready to go up to the Village Hall. They come from a recently deceased turkey magnet, and are exuding no aroma of savouryness into our home at all. I have poured a vast amount of salt water from the tin. People say to me “I don’t know how you eat your pigs”. I don’t know how they eat food like tonight’s turkeys. I think I’ll have some toast when I get home.
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