Wednesday, July 30, 2008

You know what they make pork out of, right?

A couple of days ago, my extremely cute, almost 8 year old yellow blonde neighbour came over to visit with his mummy.  I could tell that Cute Stuff had been crying; his beautiful eyes were watery and puffy.  I knew he'd been having a rough week.  He's a sensitive and emotional little guy, and sometimes life is a little hard to take... and when you're a little boy, from what I've observed, your first reaction is to scream and kick something.  

His mum and I ducked into my kitchen while the kids checked out Bucky's newest obstacle course beside the deck.   Apparently, Cute Stuff had freaked out at supper.  They were enjoying their barbequed ribs when the kid suddenly made the connection between RIBS and REAL LIVE PIGS. His face quivered while he asked if the pigs have to die before we eat the ribs.  Well, yes.  But they let them die of old age first, right?  Um, no.  


Pigs are so nice!

He let loose with an indignant rage that only an almost 8 year old can work up.  I felt soooo sorry for his mother as she told me the story.

My kids are pretty barbaric about the whole meat thing.  They've grown up listening to my gruesome stories about growing up on a pig farm.  I'm the kind of cruel parent who never really candy coated some of the harsh realities of life.  I mean, in many ways, my two kids have been so carefully sheltered and protected.  They hardly watch any TV and I don't want them to watch a lot of violent movies.  But, when it comes to the basics of life, they know what's going on.

They know that all those sweet little piglets that I played with in the barn quickly grew up into bigger, ruder pigs that got put in a truck and sold at the stockyards.  And then they became tasty pork after a visit to the slaughterhouse.

Cruel?  Well, yes.  It's cruel to shove a mammal into a chute and kill it. It's cruel for a child to have to discover that their bacon used to have pretty long white eyelashes and little pointy split hooves.  Life can be cruel.  And ham is tasty, and I have these sharp teeth in the corners of my mouth and I want meat.  

I had a Meat Moment when I was a kid.  If I remember correctly, we'd just hauled a load of weaner pigs (haha, I spelled it like "weaned from its mother" but it could just as well be spelled "weiner pigs) to the stockyards in our pickup truck.

 This would have been back in the days when seatbelts were optional and one of us girls had to sit on Mom's lap because the old truck only sat three, hip to hip.  We had the wooden racks on the truck box and backed it up the chute.  It was probably a load of those awesome Hampshire cross pigs that we raised.  They were black and white... well, black and pink, really... and as babies they were irresistible.  

Soon after that day we had ham for supper.  When you raise pigs you eat a lot of pork. Especially when it costs the same to raise the little buggers as the price you get for them.  I suddenly lost my appetite. "Mom?  Is it okay if I don't eat the ham tonight?"  

She was okay with that. She didn't push the issue or give me any long talks.  Wise lady, my mom.

I told Zedlie that she could let her boy know that his friend Heidi, who grew up on a pig farm, once had a moment of non-pork eating.  

... and got over it.

Meanwhile, my delightful children were outside telling Cute Stuff that yeah, piglets are awesome, but they grow up to be big rude pigs, 

that have babies and roll over and suffocate them to death, ignoring their squealing,

so they're really not so cute and nice after all, so hey, why cry over pigs getting turned into meat, man.  It's just the way it is.

Yeah.  So apparently Bucky and Tribble really were listening to all my stories all these years.  

Problem is, looking at all these pig pictures kind of made me miss my old life, despite all my claims that I sure don't miss having a barn full of pigs, and I admit now that I kind of want to raise piglets again.  At least until they're four months old.  Then I'll start getting hungry...

I hope Cute Stuff isn't permanently traumatized.


JKB said...

LOL! I snorted coke through my nose with the weiner/weaner thing.

I'm glad you don't sugarcoat, actually. Us farm kids have it pretty good when it comes to real life, I'm thinking.

(And hey, you could use 0.02% of those 10 acres for a coupla little squealers)

CindyDianne said...

I remember when I was growing up that my grandpa referred to the first cold autumn day as a "hog killing" day. I didn't know what he meant until I was about 10. Then, I happened to be there on hog killing day. I didn't like it much. I remember not eating pork for about 6 weeks. But, hey - I liked ham to much to dwell on it very long.

Heidi the Hick said...

weaner weiner!!!

The great thing about growing up on a farm is that we learn all those harsh realities as a matter of fact, rather than as a horrible surprise.

It's all life and death... it's nature.

And uh, yeah, I think I could raise a few piggies in a corner of my little dream farm. My son thinks we should raise a few here in town. They'd match the Pug real good...

Heidi the Hick said...

Cindy- yeah, my dad told me all about the old slaughter house on their farm (same one they live on now) but it's long gone. He told us all about how my mom's dad was so good at the killing. It went so fast there wasn't even any squealing. And I'm thinking, you know, that's the way it should be done. If you gotta do it.

Olly said...

I was a vegetarian for eight years after they showed hidden camera footage on tv of the unsanitary practices in a meat processing plant. They didn't even show the slaughter part. I still have issues with meat - has to be thoroughly cooked, etc.

Growing up we ate a lot of moose and deer so we knew who butchered it and that it was done right.

If I didn't live with a bunch of carnivores I could still easily live with out it! I feel for your little neighbour.

When I saw the title of your post - I kind of cringed a bit. Too many bad jokes still circulating in this area from the whole Pickton Farm thing....

CindyDianne said...

I am thinking it is a very good thing to do without the squealing!

Heidi the Hick said...

Olly, I didn't even think of that when I wrote out the title. But, I will say this: I got really sick of the term "pig farmer" on TV.

I think my little neighbour will be okay. His mom did some research on vegetarianism with him, and she's not forcing him either way.

I personally don't like getting meat at the grocery store on pink trays. I'd rather know where it came from and how it grew up.

Cindy, I sometimes forget how deafening a few hundred pigs can be at feedin time...

LadyBronco said...

I had a 'meat-moment' myself when I was about 15 or so. I can't remember what set it off, actually.

Thankfully, I got over it as well.

Good for you for not sugarcoating life stuff. The more info, the more ammo, as a friend of mine says.

Heidi said...

I think I learned about the pig killing thing through the little house on the prairie books. She doesn't sugar coat it either!

We used to worry about my niece, who went fishing every Saturday with her dad when she was little. They'd catch these fish, and then cook them. We asked if that was a problem for her, and my sister said, "No, she just dances around the bucket singing, 'I love you fishy, I love you fishy, I love to eat you fishy!'"

Great pictures!

Anonymous said...

well thats me off a bacon butty today!

coffeypot said...

Then you had better not tell Cute Stuff about Rocky Mountain Oysters. Or that eggs come out of a chicken's ass. Or how sausage is made. He will end up eating seaweed.

Anita said...

I started when my kids were very little making sure they knew exactly where meat came from... We hunt and fish in this family, so they've seen fish and animals being cleaned... it doesn't bother them as much anymore...

My sister refused to eat beef for the longest time, because she liked cows... She was in her early 20s before she realized that the "chicken fried steak" that she'd always eaten wasn't chicken.... lol

dilling said...

it's still kinda shocking seeing them hanging in the cooler at work...you know, the whole carcass...tail and all...i probably couldn't raise them and then eat them...i'm soft that way.. but actually, I probably wouldn't have a pig on my farm... i don't really love them(or pork, for that matter!)

Biddie said...

Love bacon. Hate killing. I am ok with it if it is done quickly and humanely..if it isn't, please don't tell me. I like animals better than most people.

Heidi the Hick said...

I still think I'd feel better about it if I could know, for certain, that the critter had a good life before it became dinner. I mean, just from a practical view, if it's raised for meat, that meat will be better quality if the animal ate well and got plenty of sunshine and exercise.

billie said...

Heidi, you have an award over at camera-obscura.

Loved these recent posts!

Lynn said...

My kids know the truth about where meat comes from, too. One of them thinks that's gross (unless, of course, it fast-food meat), one doesn't say much about it one way or the other, and... the littlest? When she was three, she walked up to a fishtank in the doctor's office, rubbed her tummy, and said, "Yummy fishies." Hee.