|Posted on July 1, 2011 at 6:47 PM|
We had oldest son and his girlfriend home with us a few days this past week. We had such a great time sharing our progress over the past year +. 4-week old piglets in the social area in the barn, one herd in each of three pastures and mobile hoop houses with chickens of varying week’s age. Lots more one on time for all the different herds since it's usually just Lynn and I making the rounds.
And that brings me to my reflection. What do all these different pastures give us and why do we spend time each day with each pig. Since our herds have each other to play, sleep, eat and wallow with do they really need us? I think yes from both a social and practical perspective.
Practical: Each day we 'see' with our eyes, hands and ears if each Berk is healthy, sporting an injury or feeling puny. The last two have happened and while the usual treatment is time and rest it's a watchful eye to benchmark any change in case there is something serious that needs tending.
Social: Well at the end of 6 months it's time to climb into the trailer and go to the processor. Not my fav day but made easier by our daily time. Alive, our pigs are around 250 pounds of dense, center of gravity perfectly placed muscle, so there's no coercing these boys and girls into doing anything they don't want to do. We don't have electric prods, we don't hog tie, so it's well established trust and communication with each pig that gets them into the trailer.
And this is the vast chasm of difference between factory raisers and us. I'd like to say at its basest level it's humanity. Yes it's time, work and attention. Yes it's carefully managing the load we place on our land. And it's very, very personal. But all this work makes me thankful each day I have the luxury of eating meat that's free from chemicals, free from cruelty and was full of happy, barking, oinking, running, social, sun drenched, mud wallowing life.