Whilst keeping these pigs has been challenging and rewarding, nothing had really prepared me for the feelings I had today when we had to rustle two of the piglets into a cage and transport them to their new home. We had decided to give one piglet to the lady that had been giving us whey and she accepted (unwillingly) and then asked if she could also buy one for her daughter. So that is where they went today. I had been dreading it and was right to, I hated every minute. Catching them, driving them and then delivering them.
I cried all the way there, and all the way back. I sobbed my heart out for those little pigs. I think their new home is crap, I mean really crap. It’s a concrete pen in a building with little natural light, no straw for bedding no nothing. It really really broke my heart. I knew it would. But I know the new owners, who have been farmers all their lives see it differently. Maybe it wont be the only home those pigs have, maybe they’ll get to run around again, who knows? They thought the pigs were beautiful and fat, which they were. And I’m sure they will look after them because they are important. Everything else on their farm is pretty well kept, and they are wholly self sufficient and running at a profit. But the reason I cried wasn’t really about how they were going to be kept, it was about loss.
For us they aren’t just food, they have, albeit slowly, cleaned and turned over some of the land, and hopefully they will turn over more, they have deposited muck on the land, and perhaps the strangest most untangeable part, they have given the farm life. In a very real sense they are the life of the farm. It will be a very desolate place when they are all gone.
Given different circumstances I would interview potential buyers for any livestock we rear, I would want to visit the farms of said buyers, but we don’t live in that kind of world (no-one does), all I can do is rear them the best I can, give them a really good start in life, freedom, happiness, health and fresh air,
I know that what happens to them after is out of my hands. Yes I could just not do it, and to be honest it was never our intention to have so many pigs all at once, but, that’s life. Sometimes circumstances change you.
I guess what I am saying is, that as awful as it feels to be so emotional about your livestock, if I wasn’t, I’d be worried, because that would mean I had stopped feeling and that’s not right either. We both love all the livestock, and try our best to keep them as well as we can, given our lack of knowledge and financial constraints. But, it hasn’t been that difficult so far, we’ve been fortunate I’m sure, for nothing that bad has happened and they have done everything we could have hoped for them to do.
They’re not pets though, they are livestock, they will die at our hands at the time we need them to, and provide us with food, as long as we can keep them alive and well long enough, and that’s our part of the bargain. Theirs is to be the farm animals they are and do the things they are supposed to.
I’d like to think that if you love them and care for them you will get more back, not just in the health and well being of your livestock, but a return inside yourself. When you give something of yourself you’ll be surprised what you get back.