Thursday, February 23, 2017

10 Little Piggies

Warning: this post is a bit more graphic than most of what I usually share. Please skip it if you have a tender heart. 


So we've had the hog trap set for almost a week now. Ever since it was put up, it's been baited but not set, so the feral hogs that have been tearing up our place would grow comfortable with the trap and the bigger, wiser ones would venture in.

Although the big ones never made an appearance on the trail cams, the numbers of pigs having a nightly feast of sour corn grew, and our friendly trapper, Chris, agreed that it was probably time to see what we could get. So on Monday he came out and set the trap.

And nothing happened.

And nothing happened.

And nothing happened.

He told us when the pigs were finally caught, they'd make such a ruckus freaking out that they would probably wake us up (the trap is in the woods right off our bedroom). So all week we've been sleeping lightly- tensely- waking at every bump and unusual sound.

Then, last night, we fell asleep with our bathroom window open... and of course, that's when they decided to show.

 Strangely enough, they didn't really make much noise when they tripped the trap door; what woke me up was the sound of the fencing of the pen rattling against the wooden guillotine-style door. We jumped out of bed and spent about twenty minutes staring through the bathroom window at the pig pen, trying to figure out what happened. We could clearly see the door was closed, but we couldn't see any pigs (it was so dark). We thought a raccoon had triggered the door, and the fence sound I heard was the sound of it climbing out of the trap.

We finally grabbed a flashlight strong enough to shine all the way to the trap, and we saw 'em- at least a couple pigs had been trapped! I texted Chris right then (I hope he didn't mind...!), and then we went back to bed (it was only midnight).

By the time the kids were up and the morning routine was in full swing, Chris was already halfway to our place, and he was backing his trailer-turned-mobile-pen up to the trap before 8am. In full daylight we could see them all- ten little piggies. And by little, I mean almost all under 80 pounds.

 Chris made quick work of getting them rounded up and into the mobile pen, and then we picked out the runt of the group, herded him back down the ramp and into the trap, and Chris handed me his rifle.

I have always struggled with the dichotomy of eating meat but not being willing to take an animal's life. I've culled chickens in the past, but it was to end suffering due to injury or illness. We've never eaten our own animals. I do try to buy local, humanely- and pasture-raised meat when we do have steak or chicken on the menu, but I've never been the one to do the processing.

Until today.

I wasn't sure if I could, but I did... I shot our pig in the head.

 Then I learned how to hang him up, skin him, clean him, and ultimately fit him in the freezer... all while wearing a trash bag over my clothes and kitchen gloves.

I feel powerful and sad. Grateful and humbled. Excited and a little bummed. I'm glad I found out today that I have it in me to go to this length to feed my family. I'm relieved that we've reduced the population of these destructive, invasive pests. But I'm at odds with my instinct to comfort and care for living things.

I'm exhausted. But I'm also planning to make him in to something nourishing and delicious, without wasting any part, so this little guy can be honored in the way that he deserves. That is the only way I'll be at peace with taking his life.

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