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Today I killed my first pig that I have raised with so much care and love
I never thought I would ever say that. A year ago I was living in a two bedroom apartment which we tried to make as energy efficient as possible, however we were still ‘energy pigs’. We had no yard to grow vegetables in (just a small balcony for fresh herbs) and each Sunday I became extremely excited to walk down to the local farmers market and purchase my weeks supply of ethically raised, free range meat and organic vegetables. What I loved most about the market was that I could chat directly to the farmer selling their produce. I mean how good is that!?! Up close and personal with your farmer, asking questions and getting a real appreciation of the hard work that they do to bring us delicious, organic, sustainable, ethical and humane food.
I can now sit here and say that I am a farmer! I moved out of the city with Andrew onto 10 acres. We grow all our own food and raise our own animals. I am no longer an ‘energy pig’ as we generate our own power with a wind turbine and solar and I am very fortunate to drink some the cleanest water (rain water). You can read more about us living off the grid here
We call our home ‘the primal farm’; because everything that we’re trying to do here is aimed towards living seasonal and simple, raising and eating sustainable, ethical and humane meat. Eating and nurturing our bodies with the foods which nature has provided us and educating ourselves every single day on the best possible way to live self sufficient.
Now that I have given you a very small background, lets get back to the pig story….We purchased three pigs last November at a cost of $70 each. Andrew and I made an excellent yard for the pigs to play in, lots of sun, shelter and plenty of room to run around. The yard has an electric fence which is run by solar. The initial set up wasn’t cheap, but totally worth it. I never named the pigs as I thought it would make it harder to do the killing when it was time.
David (mobile butcher) and I
Tuesday 15th August is the day I chose to kill my first pig. Goodness even typing those words “killing my first pig” gives me goose bumps. I organised a mobile butcher to come and do it. A big shout out to Don at Black Ridge Farm for recommending David. David has over 25 years of experience working in his own abbatoir, butcher and now as a mobile butcher. The reason I chose to bring a mobile butcher in was because I didn’t want the pig to be under any stress. From the research I have done if the animal is under any stress during the killing process not only is it cruel to the animal but they release adrenalin which can affect the meat and the meat can become quite tough.
David was amazing and he talked me through the whole process and helped calm my anxiety that I had towards the killing. He said what I chose to do here on my property is one of the best things I can do for an animal. It shows respect, it’s humane and ethical and for me personally, he said I will feel a greater appreciation towards the meat.
That I did….. Before I go on any further I want to point out that this was a very difficult thing for me to do. I have raised these pigs from a very young age with no experience. Each and everyday I loved and looked after them and fed them the best food. I ensured they stayed warm and dry and every day I would always give them a good scratch behind the ear and an awesome mud bath to roll around in.
The lead up to the killing I was having a few really bad weeks on the farm. I mentioned that we generate our own power with solar and a wind turbine and for some unknown reason our wind turbine decided to stop generating power into the batteries and all I am running off is the solar. It’s winter and right now we’re not having much sun to even allow me to turn a light bulb on. So every day, morning and night I have been running the generator for at least two hours at a time to help charge the batteries. Everytime I want to use an electric appliance like my blender I need to put the generator on. Not only that, when it’s time to go to bed and I need to turn the bathroom light on, or another light on in the bedroom, the power cuts out and I am down in the power shed after 10pm switching on the generator and waiting for another hour until we have sufficient energy. If I didn’t have the fridge to run, I would of just left it and went to bed. This became very frustrating and exhausting.
More had happened in the lead up to the pig killing. Since moving here we have lost over 10 chooks to quolls. Quolls are nocturnal, they come out at night but for some reason they decided to attack and kill my chooks during the day. A week before the killing I would go and put the girls to bed (at 4pm) to be finding another dead chook. Emotions are high and all I could do whilst picking the chooks up with my shovel was cry. Four chooks in one week was too much to handle. I would like to dedicate this post to my gorgeous Penny, who has been here on the Primal farm since Andrew and I moved in. Penny is now RIP
You can imagine how I must of been feeling. It was only last week I was standing around my pigs crying and on top of all the two awful weeks I had on the farm, I am running my own business. I have been working extremely hard putting together the first ever ancestral health and wellness conference and seeing my amazing clients. I must say, it is my clients and the conference that keeps me inspired and to stay strong and positive. Knowing I am helping change people’s lives is a wonderful and amazing feeling.
Back to the pigs- Waiting for David to arrive he asked me to start a fire and to fill up buckets of water. I thought I would take some time in front of the fire to appreciate what I have
Collecting buckets of water to heat up above 80 degrees which helps remove the hair of the pig
David heating the water and stearlising the bucket so we can use it for the collection of the blood
During the wait, I was asking David so many questions, with a anxious look.
David asked if we wanted to keep the blood, and I said yes. I want to ensure I use the whole animal. Nose to tail and no wastage. This means we will be using all of the offal, ears, head and body. The blood needed to be stirred quickly so that it didn’t clot and once it was ‘right’ we took it into the house, strained and placed it in the fridge
The removal of the pig was done with such care and respect. Not once did she feel any pain or stress. Dressed weight she came in at 63.4kg.
We scraped off the hair after the carcass had been soaked in hot water for a good 5 minutes. Soaking her in the hot water allows for easy removal of the very coarse hair that pigs grow on their skin
As you can see from the picture below, we took off quite a bit of hair.
The carcass has now been wrapped up and it’s the last stage of the slaughtering process. It has been wrapped in clean muslin cloth and hung for a certain number of days to allow the meat to tenderise. We left it here over night and the next day it was taken and put into a large fridge. We wrapped the pig in chicken wire, because as you know we have a friendly quoll problem.
I am following my dream and I am involved in every step of the life of my food, where it comes from, how it is raised, killed and treated. Unfortunately we live in a society which has become removed from where our food actually comes from. I posted these photos because I want to people have an understanding that it is important to know the origin of food, how it has been fed and raised. I feel a sense of appreciation; to be self sufficient, to raise and kill my own animal in one of the most humane and respected ways. We will be eating the pig at Andrew’s 50th birthday party amongst family and friends. Not only will it be a celebration for Andrew, it will be a gratitude celebration for the pork that we will be eating.
Before I end this post I want to finish off by reminding us of a few
- Prepare food well by following our ancestral and cultural traditions
- Consider the source and processing of food
- Consider the relationship between our health and wellbeing and the health and wellbeing of animals, plants, soil and our environment
- Consider our evolution
- Develop a respect for our food, understand what it takes to raise food and the hard work that goes into farming
- Be mindful of wastage
- Eat what we have evolved to eat, we are modern day hunter and gatherers and for survival we function best on animal meat and natural fat. From pastured raised animals, non farmed seafood, some well prepared nuts and seeds and small amounts of seasonal low fructose fruits
And remember eat what we can GROW – RAISE – HUNT – GATHER