Saturday, 7 June 2008
Listening to: Hallowed Ground (Violent Femmes)
Twenty-five past 11 and: it's not really dark yet
Time finally ran out for Eric and Ernie this week as I took my first animals to be slaughtered.
I was there with them to the end, but I'm not going to dwell on the details. I'm sure if you can find out exactly how it all works elsewhere on the Internet. All I will say is that it was quick and efficient. If they knew anything about it, I'd be surprised.
How do I feel about it? A bit sad, but you don't become a pig owner without knowing what the end will be. On the day itself I was so busy getting them sorted that I didn't have a chance to think about it and this is the first time I've had a moment to reflect.
Many people have told me that I would feel differently about the pigs when the pork came home and they are absolutely right. I had the minimum of butchering done and when the carcasses arrived back here yesterday, they weren't Eric and Ernie any more, but a vast quantity of meat (the lads ended their days on a fighting weight of over 250lb each) which needed my urgent attention.
I've spent much of the last 24 hours cutting, boning, jointing, preparing a brine cure and nicking bits out of my fingers. Sal has spent most of the day putting meat into bags and organising storage. Next time we'll get the butcher to do the cutting - it's way too tiring - but I kind of felt I should see to as much as possible this time.
Two freezers are crammed full of meat. Two hams are curing. Several bags are waiting to be delivered to friends and neighbours tomorrow and I'm not only quietly satisfied, but very grateful.
The lads have been the perfect introduction to crofting/farming/smallholding. They taught me a great deal, were remarkably good-natured and, at times, a bloody good laugh. I like to think they had a good nine months with us.
So, trying hard not to be sentimental, I'll just say 'thanks' to the pair of them and I hope that, if there's a pig heaven, it involves second helpings with every meal.