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Pig Appreciation Moment

Today, Issa and I mucked out the pigs' stall for real. She had cleaned out the bedding before, but it was in need of a thorough mucking. More in need than we had realized. There we're some spots where the pigs had urinated in the stall, and we had thrown down some more hay or straw on top of it, not realizing how deep it really went. When I dug into the area with a garden rake, it became clear that the entire top inch of dirt was soaked, had been for a while, and was happily composting.

Well-balanced compost has basically no odor at all. Un-balanced compost, like a pee-spot that has had bedding thrown on it a few times, smells... well, it's a special smell all it's own. We thoroughly raked out all the wet dirt and threw it on the compost heap. It turned out that much of the left side of the pigs' stall had been used as a bathroom. Pigs normally don't do that where they live, but the stall is big enough that they still had plenty of room to stay away from the bathroom areas, so I guess they figured why bother going out in the hot sun?

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After cleaning out the stall, we raked some hay from the field and threw it in big, deep piles in the stall, covering the areas where the pigs had been peeing. We've learned that we don't have to spread bedding at all. Just dump it in a pile and the pigs will have a grand old time rooting through it and spreading it all over the place. The sweet smell of the hay happily contrasted with the previous smell. The pigs seemed to agree. Instead of getting excited, they we're very calm and contemplative, laying in the soft hay and quietly munching on it.

Here's a video. Nothing exciting, just two adorable pigs, happily laying in some fresh hay, munching and being pigs. As mundane as that sounds, it's quite novel to me, and maybe it will be to you too.

Times like this, I feel really privileged to get to know these animals. They're really delightful in every way, and nothing like the stereotype that I had in my head. It's stupid that it never occurred to me before these pigs that food animals could have wonderful personalities, could express happiness, curiosity, playfulness, and so on. I woke the pigs up this morning with some bok choy from the garden. They sleepily wobbled out of the stall, yawning and groggy, and I could almost hear them mumbling, "Must... make... coffee."

I realize that the "privilege" of getting to raise these animals is very concrete. I'm privileged to have the money to buy property where I can raise pigs. I'm privileged to be able to afford the animals in the first place. I'm privileged to have a work-out-of-the-house job that let's me spend so much time enjoying them. Not everybody can have that experience, even if they want to. That being said, I think it's a real tragedy that so few of us get to know that the animals we eat are capable of being like this. Having known these pigs, I am more motivated than ever to find ways to opt out of the factory-farming system.

For comparison, here is how the pork that you and I buy at the grocery store and in restaurants is probably raised:

Before I knew Hampie and Yorkie, I was disgusted by images like that. Now, it just breaks my heart.

compost heap, privilege

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Posted in Organic Products Post Date 01/08/2017