The Circle is Closed

May 11, 2016 by

The Circle is Closed
L to R Quacks, Stumpy, Red lad and The Bullied One

The circle of life. It closed on Monday. The Kells 12 who became the Kells 11 and were then whittled down to the Kells 4, are no more – well in the living, breathing sense. I had been dreading it. These were different because I had bottle fed them. But I always knew it would be difficult. During the very long wet winter when they had escaped and gone foraging on a neighbours’ pristine dairy farm, I had cursed them more than once and named them Les Bastardos. They always came back, usually well after dark (and they say pigs have bad eyesight). No idea how they found their way back because when I had gone out searching for them you couldn’t see a meter in front of you. But they aren’t stupid – pigs. They knew they had cosy houses and breakfast was served in the morning. They also knew they could escape again next morning because I hadn’t yet figured out how they were getting out. They were truly free range pigs.

The only paddock they didn’t manage to escape from

When this happened for the fourth time I had had enough so I moved them back into the first paddock they had gone into from my vegetable patch. When they were still being bottle fed I had put them in my veg patch which was surrounded by chicken wire and moved an old dog house into it for them. This paddock was well fenced but was very mucky. I hated them being in it and tried to get as much fruit and vegetables for them as I could. I also picked or cut grass for them. The rain all over the winter was relentless so it probably wouldn’t have made a huge difference where they were and despite the muck they were happier outside.

My one wish was that the grass would grow, the sun would shine so they would get to eat fresh grass and wallow in warm sun before the end. I got my wish and they did.

Quacks in full stretch in the sun 

They also got to be entertained by plenty of action as the field was harrowed and re seeded.

Stumpy was fascinated

And they had a bit of fun. Well, boys will be boys.

Gang bang

So yes they endured a horrible winter – as did I trying to navigate that muck twice a day with a torn ATF ligament and on crutches; but they had a life. They had a great life. They were warm, sheltered, well-fed, entertained, engaged and behaved as pigs should.

All any living creature deserves is a good life and a good death. I do my utmost to ensure they get both. I accompany them to the abattoir. I know the owner. He always kills pigs like mine after he is finished the intensive factory pigs. He told me they have done research to see if pigs are upset by the sound of other pigs screaming. They found out they are not. I didn’t believe him. But now I do. On Monday I had to get into the trailer with them to tag them. I found them snuffling around smelling the horses that had been in it before paying absolutely no attention to the mayhem going on outside.

When we unloaded them they lived up to their name and staged one last daring escape. They jumped out the side of the ramp and instead of walking obediently up the ramp to the holding area they took off skipping and lepping around the yard. It took six of us with boards and over half an hour to get them in. And in the middle of it two of them lay down to wallow in a puddle as the day was so hot. Stressed pigs?

I will leave you with this image which haunts me. I looked into a pig’s eyes this morning while she waited helplessly to meet her end. They bore into me. Her pain was palpable.  How can we treat animals like this? How can we justify eating meat from animals treated like this? How can we allow this when we are supposedly the more intelligent species? How is meat from an animal raised in such an unnatural way good for you? How is meat that comes from a carcass covered in excrement good for you?

I walked away feeling such sadness and helplessness. I wish I could change it.

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  1. It is hard when they have to go. But they've had a grand life.
    That is what I tell myself every time while I pink away a tear.
    We have now acquired our third lot of 4 piglets. They were only 7 weeks old and they are tiny. Usually they come at around 12 weeks and the difference is vast.
    We like to keep them as long as possible and I don't care that they have more fat. The meat is exquisite.
    I feel for all the animals that have been reared in the 'industry'. We shouldn't let that happen.

  2. Me too. In fact genuine free range animals often have better lives albeit short than many humans.

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