…that is the question. It’s no secret now that we are having two new hooved additions to our homestead. Barbara Que (Babs) and Riblet are two adorable Kune Kune piglets. Now Barbara Que is part Juliana so she is going to be smaller and it was already the intention that she would hang around the homestead and be a pet, but then the idea came up that we would like to try our hand at raising a pig for the freezer. We had already researched the Kune Kune breed in depth and it seemed like the perfect pig to raise for a small homestead. So now we were getting two, one to keep and one to *gulp* eat…?
***Disclaimer*** I know that talking about eating meat vs not eating meat, and butchering vs. not butchering is a very controversial topic and I HATE controversy. It is NOT my intention to start a debate or to say what is RIGHT and what is WRONG I just want to respectfully discuss our thought process for what we’re thinking for our homestead.
We have raised animals for meat before (Harvest Day—Bittersweet) so we aren’t a stranger to the idea. We also aren’t a stranger to separating some of the animals as “non food” and some as “food”. This idea was hard to wrap my head around at first. How could I have some chickens for eggs that were practically pets and some that would be treated as pets as well UNTIL it was time to eat.
We finally reconciled that this animal will be a part of our family in life and will return back to our family in death. We appreciate the sacrifice made so that we may eat meat and we do not take it lightly. We owe it to them to give them the most loving and kind life that we can. I worried about them feeling a sense of betrayal but at the end of the day I don’t think the animal would resent the love and the friendship. I don’t believe that they would look at us and say, ” I wish you wouldn’t have been my friend if you were just going to eat me. I wish you treated me differently.” And I truly do take the time to think about and process such things. I try to provide all of my animals with the best care possible and with that comes a friendship that I am truly grateful for. It’s not really easy for me to keep any animal at arms distance. When we first got meat birds I remember telling myself that I wouldn’t name them or pet them or spend any time with them, but it didn’t feel good and it didn’t feel right. I’m a relationship former by nature, that’s what I do, for better or worse no matter how much it hurts in the long run I form bonds with just about everyone I meet and miss them when our interactions are complete.
My favorite video on this subject matter is Justin Rhodes video called, “Why We Name the Cow We’re Going to Eat”. In the video he makes a promise to the calf (a promise that I make to my animals as well) that he will only have one bad day. He goes further to promise that his sacrifice will not be in vain and that they will use every bit of him. He finally ends by saying that it all comes down to one word–the reason they name an animal that they’re going to grow, kill, and eat–RESPECT!
So when the day is done I know not everyone agrees with raising an animal in your backyard around your family and children and then harvesting it. I know that it can seem too close to home and cruel. I know that most people prefer the safe distance that comes from purchasing your meat in shiny packages from the super market and never having to know the face of the sacrifice. All of those emotions are 100% understandable and relatable. But for our family, us the most affordable way to get humanely raised, well fed meat for our freezer, so that we can feed our children the best that WE can afford is to do it this way. Harvesting is never easy and I’m certainly glad that I will not be doing it myself (or on site) but I am abundantly grateful for the sacrifice of the animal that will feed my children and I hope that their [my children’s] gift of love and respect will in some way add enrichment to its life and give thanks to its sacrifice.
All of that said there is always the chance that we grow too attached and the harvest will not be made. Perhaps we will try again, perhaps we won’t, perhaps we will stop eating pork if we don’t have the courage to see it through, who knows. But the idea is that we are ready to try our hand at this journey on our small backyard homestead.
Thank you for reading this with respect. Happy Flocking.