Over the past two days we slaughtered and processed two of our three pigs, a task that to me is always more daunting in anticipation than action. We have now killed and processed enough pigs that the process is etched in our thoughts, emotions, and bodies. I know the particular anxiety I will feel in the moments before death. I know the certain fatigue of six straight hours spent cleaving the carcasses into chops and roasts and sausage trim. I know even the small sorrow of leaving one pig alive, and I wonder how that it is for her. She exhibits no distress, nor displays any change in routine that might be interpreted as such. But still. How can she not miss her mates, if only for the warmth of their bodies at night? Or perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps she’s glad for all the extra space.
I have written enough on this site already about killing animals for meat, so I will add only this: After so many years, it has gotten easier. Maybe I should not admit this, but it has. For better or worse, we have accepted and acclimated to our role in the conversion of others’ flesh into our own. It’s been a humbling process, and this humility feels right to us. There is peace in this humility. I cannot tell you exactly why, and I would never have anticipated such, but we have found it to be true.
On Sunday, after we’d finished dressing the hogs, I washed my hands at the kitchen sink. I’d nicked myself earlier in the day, and now I removed the bandage I’d applied to stem the cuts’ flow. As the water ran over my hands, I watched two distinct swirls form in the sink basin: One my own, the crimson-blood shade of a shallow extremity wound, and the other the russet-red of the pigs’ arterial reserves.
In seconds, drawn by the drainward slope, the two swirls became one. I turned up the water and the blood soon disappeared.