Life in the Slow Lane: A Difficult Decision
For anyone uncomfortable with the idea of animals being slaughtered for meat, you may want to skip this post. I promise there will be nothing graphic, just a difficult description and a little sadness.
I slaughtered Miss Piggy today. It wasn’t an easy choice, but it was Miss Piggy herself who pushed the issue. About two weeks ago, during that heat wave, she got a little grumpy. She actually came at me with her mouth open. It was the first time I’ve ever felt the least bit uncomfortable around her. I wasn’t frightened although maybe I should have been. As it turns outs, she weighed in well over 500 pounds, probably closer to 800.
Her behavior was so surprising that it took me back for a bit. Yeah, the heat was making me grumpy too, but that didn’t really explain her warning stance toward me. Then I realized that she’d done the math.
I once heard an interview on NPR with a man who ran a pig sanctuary, a place that took in those “pet” potbellied pigs when they got too big to be pets anymore. He had a pretty good explanation for how pigs think, one that I’ve used since: “Cats have staff, dogs have masters, but a pig thinks everyone is a pig.”
This is what happened to Miss Piggy. She looked around the farm and saw that Tiny had her two little sheep/pigs, that the turkey hens had their useless little poult/pigs and that I had NO pigs. This, in her mind, had made her head pig.
Although she never again came at me aggressively, each day after that she made it clear that I no longer had the right to tell her what to do.
In fact, if I did try to scold her, which I have done in the past and to which she had responded submissively, her new response was a harsh series of grunts that clearly said “You don’t have the right to tell me what to do.” And then she’d go off a do whatever it was I’d just told her not to do.
Then I did the math. On top of becoming unpredictable, she was costing me more than $14 a day to feed. That pretty much left me no choice.
So with the help of Jim and Sharon Kraft, who will be paid in pork, she met her end this morning. Jim did the deed. Thank goodness he’d done his research. He discovered that hogs fed with milk or milk products have very strong bones. I’d already learned this with Boinker earlier this year. So Jim planned appropriately and she was gone in less than a minute. I will freely admit to crying over it, but it was one minute in a lifetime of nothing but pleasure. And, she finished a whole quart of strawberry ice cream before she went.
After that, we started working, Jim and I on her carcass and Sharon carrying the pieces into the kitchen. Neither Jim nor I had ever processed a hog carcass. He’d done elk, I’d watched as the lamb and Boinker were processed. But there’s no time like when you’re facing a massive carcass to learn how to do what. Why start small when you can go for the big stuff right away?
It took us three hours during which we learned just how long the gut cut needs to be and that you should tie the feet to the gambrel just in case. The primal cuts are now in multiple refrigerators cooling now. Tomorrow I’ll start reducing them. She’ll be mostly ground or cubed pork with bones going to the dogs.
Her babies don’t seem to be missing her. I’ve been down and fed them apricots. I tried giving them plums, but they were clear--they do not like them, Sam I am.
As for me, as hard as it was, I know I made the right decision. And I’m thrilled that I was able to give her a spectacular life here before this moment came.
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