Monday, 26 November 2012

Dignity and Serenity

Dignity and Serenity
We never named our two Berkshire pigs, we thought it would make it easier when the day came to take them to the abattoir

Well, today was the day and it didn't.

If we were to give them names now, it would have to be Dignity and Serenity, let me explain.

We hadn't been looking forward to today but, I managed to keep it together all the way there, through unloading and right up until I called Nanny Southwellski to let her know how it had gone.

Luckily I wasn't alone, Luke came with me and I am immensely grateful to him for being there.

We knew where this adventure was heading right from the off back in August when we picked the pigs and sheep up from Melsop Park Farm.  We knew it wasn't going to be easy because we wanted our animals to have not a nice life but a lovely life, and you know, I truly believe they did.

You can't get better than a Kwik Pig fitter!
We were never afraid to get in the run and play with them, be it football or a game of tug with a bit of old plastic.

We willingly showed them lots of love and affection despite knowing that when they were gone we would be broken hearted.

We backed the trailer up to the run on Saturday and let the door down so they could have a sniff and rootle about and then we blocked off the entrance to the ark so they would sleep in the trailer thereby getting used to it before we took them away.

It worked like a dream, I went out at 6.00am this morning with a torch and they were both sleeping soundly in the trailer.  There was a little grunt and a brief look at me before they settled back to their sleep.

When I opened the trailer at the abattoir a good hour later they hadn't moved.

Coming to play?
I stood at the bottom of the ramp and called them and down they came after a good stretch and a sniff that is.

They wandered into the building and followed the butcher to their pen and that was it, no fuss, no stress and not even a look back.
 
The vet commented that it was how animals should arrive at the abattoir, calm, relaxed and well prepared.

But not every animal arrives in that state.

When we got to the abattoir there was a delivery in progress, only it was not so much a delivery as wrestling match between three very nicely dressed individuals all in matching Barbour's and Hunter wellies with three large pigs, Gloucester Old Spots I think, but don't take my word for it because it is just a guess and all I really know is they were big.

Anyway, they were crammed into a small trailer and the 'oiks' that were delivering them were resorting to pushing and shoving and a kick or two went in before the vet intervened and made them take their time.

They had all the gear, boards and sticks and were almost battering the poor creatures into moving, but they clearly had no respect for the animals or what was awaiting them

The animals were clearly as stressed as they were, and there was much squealing as they were eventually forced into the building.  The vet had them moved to the end of the line to give them time to calm down before she would allow them through for slaughter.

When we chose to go as self sufficient as possible, we did it for a number of reasons, among them and very high up the list was our concern for animal welfare.  We wanted to feel okay about the food we eat, knowing it has been well looked after, well fed and respectfully and humanely killed.

We also want Coco to have the best possible food without goodness knows what in it.

Since we have been involved in this lifestyle we have met some awesome people, people with massive amounts of knowledge and good sound advice.  People who share our views about food and how it is produced and we now count ourselves lucky to be able to call them our friends.

There are a few who I believe do this for the wrong reasons, they wear the title 'smallholder' like some tacky piece of bling and I can almost hear the people from this morning laughing about the wrestling match at the abattoir doors as they carve their pork!

Maybe it will be their way of dealing with today, but it's not the right reason to do this.

Tickle tickle tickle, if pigs could giggle.............
Nanny Southwellski and I were talking earlier and we asked ourselves if we had jumped in at the deep end with what we are trying to do with our lifestyle.

Well it wasn't so much a jump as a very long run and jump off of a very high diving board!

But we have learnt masses very quickly, and Nanny Southwellski's inexhaustible ability to find information and get advice has seen us through.

Indeed it's Nanny's relentless research that has brought us into contact with the wonderful people I mentioned earlier.

So wherever you are, be it Fuerteventura or Southery or Bodham or Woolpit or West Stow thank you.




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