What Butcher Day is Really Like
Today on the homestead was one of those tough days that only those who live a similar lifestyle to us would understand. It’s butcher day. We have not been able to cross into butchering our own pigs, but that is not to say that someday we might, but not today.
Pigs are very smart animals. They respond to your voice, they know the hands that feed them, who brings the snacks and who brings the apples (you know who you are!) and they even show emotion. They become our friends, and through the ups and downs of life, you can always count on them to be there when you need a pick me up. We call it “pig therapy” here at Two Branches Homestead. Petting pigs just makes you feel happy. I don’t know why, it just does.
Fortunately for us, this morning’s loading on the trailer was quite uneventful. The brains of this crazy operation was advised by those with more experience to feed the pigs on the trailer for a few days prior to their “ride” so that they load easily. (If you want to know a little about one of our prior pig loading experiences, check out our blog, “The Story of Marge, the Stubborn and Very Lucky Pig”) The feeding on the trailer worked like a charm, and they walked right on. But, in my mind, I was not prepared for that. I was prepared for the hour long fight, and coaxing, and the stressful family arguing. I am a faithful person and I am not afraid to admit that I thanked God the moment the trailer door was closed. Then, I had to walk away because my emotions kicked in.
This lifestyle is hard, and I am not just talking about the physical labor, which is unending, it’s the emotional part. During last night’s trial run of getting on the trailer, I told the brains, “I hate butcher day” and his response was “me too”. But, we both firmly believe in raising happy, healthy food. We love our animals, all of them. And rule number one is “don’t name your food”, but, we always do. It only seems fitting. They are a part of our family, even if only for 7 short months. They were born here, and that makes the connection that much stronger. 2 out of the 3 that went today were actually birthed right into my arms!
So, I walked away. Then I thought to myself, if I ever don’t feel these emotions, then it’s time to quit homesteading. I don’t ever want to take raising our food lightly. The quiet and calm after dropping them off is always eerie and weird, but I always find that after a few days have passed, I start wondering when the butcher will call to tell us that they are ready to be picked up. We rarely buy meat from the store, it’s just one of those things that once you start raising your own food you can’t go back to store bought. We are often asked if we save money growing and raising our own food, and I am sure that all of our homestead and farmer friends will agree that the answer is a firm “hell, no!” So please, if you can, support your local farmer. You won’t regret it, and you may never eat store bought meat again either.
What keeps us doing what we do is knowing that we raise happy, healthy animals that always have a warm place to sleep, clean water whenever they want, and lots of love. That truly makes it all worth it. I hope the day never comes when I am not sad when they get on the trailer because I am very grateful for being able to live this life, even on the tough days.