my piglets.

It took me three weeks to write my last post. And it’s taken me a long time to write this one as well.

Some words are just hard to say. Hard to get out.

Normally writing helps me process my emotions, but for the post about my surgery, writing wasn’t helping. I wasn’t ready to process certain emotions yet. So I let that post sit while I felt like more healing had occurred.

This post about my piglets is a completely different set of feels, you guys.  But feels all the same. To know me is to know how much I love my farm and all the animals here. When one gets sick or one dies, it hurts.  I find myself wanting to get rid of all the animals because my heart may not be able to take the pain of loss again. But Josh talks me off my ledge, reminds me that life and death happen on a farm. It’s part of it. While I know he’s speaking truth, it still breaks my heart.

For a few who may not know me in real life, and are new to my blog, here’s a little back story:

As a kid I dreamed of living on a farm. Mostly we lived in apartments or small houses in town while I was growing up. Josh grew up living in town, too, and I didn’t know until not that long ago – that he had always dreamed of living on a farm as well.

Fast forward to Spring of 2014 and we find ourselves with a handful of chickens and a couple of ducks. I’m pretty freakin’ ecstatic because oh my word – chickens! And ducks! For about a year this was the extent of our farmishness, until I receive a text from my friend Chelsea. This text provided me with an opportunity to buy a week old Jersey steer. Within about an hour he was loaded up in the back of my van and on his way to live at my house. So, in June of last year we had some chickens and we had some ducks and now a cow named Harrison. 

A few months go by and Chelsea provides me the opportunity with another calf. When we go to pick her up we are offered a second calf. Sure, why not?! 

A couple of days after bringing home Mae (pictured in back) and June (front) we picked up piglets (!!) my friend Emily gifted to me.

Wow, in searching for these pictures, I found about 1,000 more of them from the last six months!

After the piglets came we were gifted with two goats, one of them being pregnant at the time. Then we were gifted five geese. And then I got more chickens and ducks. I think at one point our animal count was up to 73.

Did your jaw just drop?  This was my husband’s response when I told him one night how many animals we had:

Back story complete and we are at present time.

The time with our piglets, that Josh kept reminding me were no longer piglets, was coming to an end. Piglets do not stay piglets. And pigs are loud, destructive, and costly. It was time to call the butcher.
I’m starting to cry right now as I write this. 

Ugh. This is hard.

It has been three weeks since the pigs were slaughtered and I still cry each time I think about it. Those girls were by far my favorite animal on this farm (besides baby Hazel). No other animal greeted me in the morning the way those two did.

The day came for the butcher to show up. Josh advised me to be gone for the day, but I just could not leave them. I had raised these girls from six and eight weeks old, and I couldn’t leave them with someone they didn’t know.

I asked the butcher to walk me through what was going to happen, and I’m bawling and shaking the entire time. He tells me he’ll shoot one, drag it out of the pen, and wrap a chain around the back feet. As he is explaining in detail what will happen, I am petting my sweet piglets and kissing those nasty, dirty mud and poop covered snouts. To some, gross. I know. But if you could have been here these months, you would love and kiss them too. 

After they are hung up, he stabs the heart and they bleed out. Then the rest of the job is completed. I think I’ve already provided more detail than anyone wants to know.

Jordan, the butcher, sees me crying like a fool, and apologizes. He tries to tell me how stupid pigs are but I think the people who say pigs are stupid, are people who have never had pigs. My girls were not stupid.

It’s time, and I know this, and I just cannot watch the gunshot happen. So I walk around the corner of the barn, still crying and shaking and considering telling Jordan nevermind – when I hear it sound.

I don’t know which piglet he was going to kill first, but when I round the corner I see that it was Sally. The loudest of the two, the most standoff-ish.

The process begins and I stand there as he tells me each and every thing he is going to do. I watch in horror, disgust, fascination, and respect. I offered my piglets a very good, very happy life, and they, in turn, are providing for my family as well.  It takes an hour for Sally and now it’s time for Louise.

Louise.  Oh my goodness this girl.  She was the social one of the two.  Always happy. Always hungry.  I felt like she smiled every time she saw me. 

It was nearing the time for the school bus to drive by and all I could picture was that scene from Napoleon Dynamite. Know the one?

Here is where I interject humor at an awful situation, because this is how I roll.

Again, I walk around the corner, waiting for the sound of the gun. It took a long time before I heard it. And when I did, part of me was gone too. Knowing that I’d come around the corner to a lifeless Louise was miserable, because lifeless was so the opposite of my girl.  

When he pulled her from her pen I made sure I was standing behind her, because even though he assured me she was dead, what if? What if she could see me and wonder why I had put her through this?

Another hour went by while Jordan is cutting, and pulling, and breaking, and skinning. 

I stand, awed by this man’s job, and awed by what my animal is providing me. What she provided me.

Months of laughter, months of hard work, moments of tears out of frustration over the destruction they caused. Belly laughs watching my youngest girl ride them. And now they will provide us with many months a full freezer.

The meat is not back from the butcher yet. Maybe I’ll never be able to eat the bacon or the porkchops. At this point, I truly don’t know. I feel like I betrayed my piglets. They trusted me and loved me, and this is what I’ve done to them. I am having a hard time letting this go.

I don’t expect anyone to understand it. I know I attach myself to my animals in an unhealthy way, but that’s who I am. I don’t do many things well, but I do love well. And I loved my girls to the most.

I will never forget my experience with my piglets, will be forever grateful for my time with them.
Absolutely forever.

8 thoughts on “my piglets.

  1. Sarah, I understand. I went through the same thing while butchering our lambs. I even walked one of them myself to the slaughterer. Bc I remembered the words of our UC Davis expert that came to the ranch and talked to the 4H group saying a good shepherd/farmer Sees their animals through to the very end. You are a good farmer. The funny thing about the heart, it’s a muscle and it will heal. I will pray for you today.


    1. Every year at butchering my father in law always prays over the pigs before butchering. I think it’s so appropriate, we pray for them and thank God for providing for us. Bryce said he hates the killing part, I told him you should, we are thankful for what they provide but killing a living being sucks no matter what.


  2. Growing up on a farm I went through this many times. It’s so hard when they are like pets and family. A very humbling experience to go through. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 😚


  3. I so understand 😦 I never could eat the pork in my freezer after we slaughtered Charlotte, but the kids never knew and they had full tummies for a long time. (((((HUGS)))))


  4. Sarah! I love to read your writing.
    I grew up w/ lots of animals. I promise this gets easier. My brother & I got to the point that we could (& looked forward to) watch our steers be butchered every year.
    Funny now that I’m an adult, when I hear the gun shot @ our neighbors I feel a little sad. And I no long watch.
    It will do a service for your girls. Life & Death, love & sacrifice is ever so clear when you grow up this way.
    Tiff Hester


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