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Quote of the Day: Granville F. Knight

November 17th, 2013

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.
pigs 1
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.
pigs 2
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.
cleaning the back porch
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.

Have you ever taken part in a slaughter day?

21 Comments to “Quote of the Day: Granville F. Knight”
  1. Mich on November 17, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Sadly other than fowl, rabbits and deer we are not allowed to kill any farm stock ourselves.
    They have to go to a licensed slaughter house and my nearest one is miles away :( Was one of the main reasons I gave up rearing cattle and sheep…didn’t want to put them through the stress of travelling, pens etc.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  2. Jennifer Fisk on November 17, 2013 at 8:06 am

    I have had slaughter day for meat chickens, roosters and rabbits but never bigger animals. My 7 turkeys will be making the trip to Jason’s on the 25th where there is usually much owner participation. Even though I don’t deliver the final cut, I carry them to the kill room, stand in the door and watch them die, get scalded and plucked. Seems like the right thing to do.
    Good luck today.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

    • Susy on November 17, 2013 at 8:25 am

      That is a GREAT option, if I wasn’t doing it myself I’d want to see it done.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Adriana on November 17, 2013 at 8:11 am

    We have processed our own chickens, turkeys and ducks and we are getting set up to raise pigs next summer. I hope all goes well for you today and I look forward to hearing about your experience.

    Reply to Adriana's comment

  4. Joan on November 17, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Chickens running around with their heads cut off was my last one, as a child. Never again! I respect you for doing it yourselves though – if a person chooses to eat meat they should be willing to be part of the process themselves, or purchase from someone who raises their animals as humanely and healthily as you do. Killing them quickly with a minimum of fear and suffering, at home, is definitely the best way to go.

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Jennifer Fisk on November 17, 2013 at 8:31 am

      I have the same memories from my childhood but that is the way it was done then. I’m not into that. I hang them by their feet with their bodies in a tomato cage. One slit and they bleed out quickly with very little flapping.

      Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

      • Susy on November 17, 2013 at 8:54 am

        The tomato cage is a great idea. We have been wrapping them in an old towel and using the chopping block, but holding them to bleed out so there’s no flapping. We just bought a killing cone though, which will make doing the big ducks much easier!

        to Susy's comment

  5. kristin @ going country on November 17, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Yup, sheep, deer, chickens. Pigs are big animals with a lot of meat to process. Good luck.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  6. Nebraska Dave on November 17, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Susy, I have been a part of a pig processing but it was way back when I was eight years old. Dad and the neighbor guys worked on the outside stuff and Mom and the neighbor wives worked on the inside stuff. My job was to take the chunks of fat Mom trimmed off the pieces of meat and cut them into inch cubes to be rendered into lard. As I recall it didn’t seem to be a traumatic event for me. But then I didn’t see the actual slaughter of the hog or the evisceration of the animal.

    Another time later when courting my first wife, I was part of a tame rabbit harvest. My soon to be wife had a sister that lived back in the hills of Missouri. She had raised about 25 rabbits for meat purposes and well couldn’t start the process. Since I hadn’t raised them or become attached to their little twitching noses, my job was on the front side and the sister and husband then dressed out the carcasses. And no rabbit does not just taste like chicken. I think it tastes better.

    Have a great hog processing day and pass the bacon please.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  7. laura on November 17, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I grew up in the city and never lived anywhere near a farm. I have always wanted to raise my own animals, but I fear I would chicken out when it came time to the slaughtering. Hope everything goes well for you.

    Reply to laura's comment

  8. amy on November 17, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Bizarre question but I can’t tell what is on the table in the last photo? Yes~same unfortunate experience as Joan growing up…..My grandmother bought 150 chickens every spring and every late summer they were slaughtered in our back yard in the same fashion. I did not eat chicken until I was in my late 20’s….Some people are fine with growing up with all that…some are not….I unfortunately was not. My grandmother was a “git er done” kind of gal…..She had to be.. growing up in the depression….There was no time for sentimentality….buck up……would have been her mantra….I admired her…loved her…and try to emulate her chutzpa….and could kill and dress a chicken with the best of them….but so thankful I do not have to! :)

    Reply to amy's comment

    • Susy on November 17, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      It’s just the rag that I was using to wipe everything down.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. tj on November 17, 2013 at 9:57 am

    …I know this is a dumb question, but how did you kill them? I don’t see a knife, gun or blood. I do have to say that by judging from your photos, those two pigs went as humanely as possible. Thank you. :o)

    …I’m interested to see the process from here too but I’m certain there will be no time for pictures. I like that you’ve turned an enclosed porch into a slaughter area too. It’s nice to see two people put so much thought, consideration and effort into something that should be taken this seriously. I raise my cup to you two!

    …Enjoy your day! :o)

    …Peace & blessings.

    Reply to tj's comment

  10. Sierra N Hampl on November 17, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Isabella and I just read Wilder’s description of pig butchering day in Little House in the Big Woods. Good luck to you and there’s no doubt you’ll have some great bacon!

    Reply to Sierra N Hampl's comment

  11. DebbieB on November 17, 2013 at 10:37 am

    You guys are awesome. Everything is done with careful consideration and respect and efficiency.

    Did you weigh the pigs before slaughter? I’m interested to see your net meat yield. When will you get new piggies? Spring?

    I am the daughter of a deer hunter, so while I never participated in the killing/slaughter/dressing (which of course happened in the field, and Daddy didn’t take his girls hunting, only his boys), I was always part of the butchering and packaging at the kitchen table as a child and young teen. All I can remember thinking is, “Mmmmmm, cutlets!”

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

    • Susy on November 17, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      We didn’t weigh them, but we measured them, around 320 on hoof. We will probably weigh everything we cut up, but maybe not, we’ll see.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Deb on November 17, 2013 at 10:43 am

    When I was very young until about 10-12 when my grandparents quit the butchering at their house My aunt and uncle, 6 cousins, parents, and grandparents got together and we butchered and then used all the hog for lard, and everything was used. very little waste ever. Same with steers, and my parents di lambs at home by themselves. Of course mom did chickens, the flapping around and all. Wish hubby and I could do that ourselves but don’t have the equipment or place to raise them for now. We used the intestines for the sausge. Always got frsh cooked link sausage for lunch on butchering day, nothing beats that.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  13. Candace on November 17, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    It was never a secret why the pigs were there, but I can’t help but feel sad that they will be gone. I loved the posts about them.

    With that being said, I do respect what you do and why you do it. It is not the easy way, but you know exactly what you are getting. It is not a path that everyone wants to take. If I had to kill for my food, I probably would eventually…after many hungry nights.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us.

    Reply to Candace's comment

  14. Rachel on November 17, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    The size of the pigs is impressive. I have not been part of a slaughter, but my husband is currently on a hunting trip and began processing his deer yesterday. Our hens are getting older and we keep talking about “retiring” them, processing them on our own and getting new layers. I’m sure I would just be a spectator, however, I need to learn the process before I participate.

    Reply to Rachel's comment

  15. amy svob on November 18, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Yes I have been involved in butchering. We did hogs in fall and cows in the spring. US girls were the meat wrappers then as I got older I was able to do the sausage links. My sister and I would fight over this job. Our favorite part if the day would be eating a fresh cut steak or a pan if fresh sausage patties. One year my father teased us by lining the eye balls on the butchering table with each different set being in a different p I edition. One set had crossed eyes lol. I remember how large they were.

    Reply to amy svob's comment

    • amy svob on November 18, 2013 at 2:27 am

      Position (crazy incorrect)

      Reply to amy svob's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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