Don and Hamelot, our two little Wessex Saddleback pigs were slaughtered yesterday. I will not pretty up this post for human acceptance. If you are vegan, you do not have to read on. If you are vegetarian, likewise.
Please, everyone who may read this post, be assured that these two little pigs lived a very happy life, they ate well, free ranged, wallowed copiously, burrowed with and without intent, got out of their paddock once and fell asleep on their boundary fence. They jumped straight back in when dinner arrived and strangely enough never attempted escape again. The grass may have been over-tilled by them both, but they obviously knew where it was greener. They had shady trees, a pig ark stuffed to capacity with sweet smelling hay that they would burrow into every night...and afternoon for siestas. They were well kept pigs.
HH and I deliberately kept Don and Hamelot far away from the house in their own purpose modified paddock. Even though we are animal lovers we do still eat meat, not alot of meat, but still some. Having our own property has enabled us to keep our own livestock for our own consumption. This was our first year for raising pigs. Having them away from the house meant that we did not cultivate a ¨pet pig¨ mentality. Don and Hamelot were pigs with a purpose. Their destiny lays in our freezer and eliminates the need for purchasing commercial (yes, even free range) pig meat.
Pigs can be very harsh on the land. Their newly vacated paddock will need a year of resting with a couple of round bales of grass hay to mulch it, preserve it and rejuvenate it before we can put any more livestock on it. That paddock has been stripped, tilled, turned, and upended by our little pigs. The deep underlying clay pan is almost our new top soil. The only thing keeping our topsoil in our paddock is the fact that they soil is still damp. Once it is dry, all it will take is a stiff breeze and our neighbours will have newly deposited top soil on their land. OURS! I have no idea how free range pigs can be kept to supply a commercial market.....Do they really, or are they only born free range and once weaned then kept off of the land? Our two pigs lived in a 3/4 acre paddock for four months and utterly destroyed it.
Anyhoo, I digress. Yesterday, Russell, our slaughter/butcher guy came with his refrigerated truck, gun and dog. He inspected our two little pigs and commented that they were at the perfect size. Being boars, you cannot keep them too long just in case their circulating testosterone ¨taints¨ the meat. It does not always happen, especially when the pigs are kept truly free range, but why take the risk? Don and Hamelot weighed in at about 34kgs and 38kgs respectively. A good weight to still handle between two people. Russell produced his gun and shot each pig in the head, between the eyes and they fell to the ground. Don and Hamelot both saw us as food and would wait at the fence for us with their little upturned snouts snuffling in anticipation of the food bucket. Today there was no food bucket, only a gun. There was very little noise, and they died immediately. I do not know what goes on in a professional abbatoir, so I cannot compare the two processes.
HH had set up a 44 gallon drum filled with water and boiled it using fallen timber from our property to fire it up and get that water boiling. Each pig was then dipped into the water for about five minutes which is enough to make it easy to scrape their coarse hair off but not to cook them. They were then removed and Russell hung them up using a block and tackle and the abdominal cavity opened and all of the innards removed.
Russell then set about removing the head and the trotters (which I did want) Some of the offal we saved, some went to the dogs and the rest into our septic worm treatment plant. He is quick. He knows his job and he does this for a living. Don and Hamelot then had a meat hook placed through them and they were put into the cool room where they will hang for a week before being butchered into traditional portions and put into the freezer to be eaten by us over the next year.
I hope this post is not too sanitized, but if you were expecting lots of blood and gore and squealing none of this happened. As I said, Russell is a professional. The whole morning was stress free. Don and Hamelot died in anticipation of a yummy food bucket. I don´t think that you can die much happier than that. They didn´t run away in terror and there was no squealing. It was a quick clean death. How many commercially farmed animals meet an end like that?
If you ever come to our place for dinner and there is pig on the table, rest assured you can eat without a guilty conscience knowing that Don and Hamelot lived a happy life, had a quick death and we wasted as little of them both as we could.