A significant experience


 have oscillated between writing and not writing about the following experience for the past few weeks. It feels controversial. However, since this blog is meant to reflect significant ideas, experiences and thoughts that I have had, I must write about this.

Five weeks ago we slaughtered, and then butchered, our two pigs. Not at an abattoir, but at home; ourselves. It has been a life-shifting experience. I still think about it now at certain points during the day. It will be an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

We decided that if we were going to kill the pigs for meat, then the most humane way would be to do it in their field, in their space, while they were eating. The alternative was to drive them 8.7 miles to the abattoir; have them wait around in a strange place; and then for a stranger to kill them. Had we done the latter we could have sold the meat to family and friends, which would have been the upside to this method. The downside was the stress which it would have put the pigs under in their last few hours of life. We didn't feel it was right nor respectful to Penny and Bernie (our two pigs). We didn't want them to have even an inkling that they were going to die.

They died whilst eating breakfast in their field. In a practical sense, it was easy. Death is not difficult thing to dole out - didn't you notice that the last time that you killed a fly?. Emotionally it was much harder. And this is where it has marked me: Was it the right thing to do? Can I really justify killing another animal just so that I can eat meat? It is certainly better than eating battery chickens, and bacon from pigs which have been intensively raised in sow-stalls. But I am not convinced that it is absolutely right to eat meat. Why are my needs placed above that of a pig's?

I still miss them each time I look out of the window and see their water bucket hooked over the fence post. I feel poignant when I think back to the apples and banana which they were chewing as they died. And I feel sadness when I remember the way they used to gallop across their field when we came to feed them, or simply to say hello. They were very relational animals, just like us.