Often against his better judgment, the modern farmer has been forced to use monoculture, artificial fertilization, pesticides, herbicides and mechanization in order to keep ahead of ruinous taxation, inflation and ever-increasing costs of production. The result has been productions for “quantity” rather than “quality,” and the gradual destruction of our precious topsoil and mineral reserves, in or beneath the soil. This has been well documented by Dr Wm. Albrecht of the University of Missouri. Our markets are flooded with attractive, but relatively tasteless, vegetables and fruits. The protein content of wheat and other grains has steadily declined; this being a reliable index of soil fertility. Animal foods such as fowl and meat reflect similar changes. Fowl are usually raised in cramped quarters and their food limited to that prescribed by man. As a result cirrhotic livers and common and egg quality is inferior. Both groups are frequently treated with antibiotics, anti-thyroid drugs and hormones which produce castration, myxedema, and water logged tissues. These practices are designed to stimulate more weight gain on less feed. The advantages to producers are obvious; to the consumer they are indeed questionable.
-Granville R Knight (1970)
As we’ve been raising our first pigs this summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about industrialized food. About how it moves animals from living beings into commodities to be brought from infant to slaughter weight as quickly and as efficiently as possible. That’s not at all what our focus has been, in fact we’re amazed that our pigs weigh what a normal pig does when butchering time has come. These pigs have been great, truly a joy to have around (at least most of the time). No doubt we will measure all future pigs by these two.
Our pigs were raised for meat, but also to work for us. They have spent the last 6 months happily rooting up the soil in our woods eating acorns, grubs, saplings and whatever else they found tasty. They have cleared the woods of low growing vegetation all the while leaving behind beneficial manure that will fertilize future hazelnut and apple trees we plan to plant in this area. They were as happy as pigs could be.
It would certainly be easier to take them to a local butcher shop for slaughtering, but we believe that more of them can be used if we do that as well, right here. We also want them to have the least amount of stress when that time comes, something I’m sure a trailer ride and a few hours in a corral would bring.
If all goes as planned, today will be pig slaughtering day. We spent all day yesterday in preparation, getting the scalder set up, cleaning the back porch and hanging rods to make it into a small butcher shop. We are also in the process of building a smoker.
It certainly is a lot of work, but we’re excited to do it. We love new experiences, and this will certainly be an experience.
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