In April this year we bought our first milk cow. A week later we bought our first litter of piglets: a crew of heritage tamworth boar brothers, about 20 pounds a-piece, that were plopped lovingly into a cozy little house for the evening. The next day we came to visit them with 3 gallons of fresh milk from Annen and they rushed to us and lapped it up as clumsily as you can imagine baby pigs might. It was pure joy to watch. Since then we’ve fed them several gallons of milk every day. It was definitely everyone’s favorite time of day.
Conditioning animals is often about food: training dogs, cows sometimes, even some parents who try to get their kids to be quiet with milkshakes in the backseat during long car rides. But hanging out with the piggers was much more than feeding. There were days when the pigs ran to us simply because we were there and they wanted to say hi. From across the paddock they’d come up, asking for head scratches and talking a mile a minute. We listened to them, talked back, and laughed, until they got tired and slumped over for nap times and belly rubs.
What was amazi
ng to us was how fabulous the pigs’ life was. They woke and ate and napped. They wandered around the farm just like we did: nibbling on grapes and apples, mulberries, currants, and chestnuts. When they got sleepy they found sunny spots or shady ones, curled up in big piles, and passed out. They woke again later to poke around and see what was ripe in some other area. Their life was magical, and they constantly exuded their joy and contentment.
We’ve learned a lot from this crew of brothers. They loved each other. They loved and trusted us and we loved and trusted them. We cried a lot to let them all go, especially when we slaughtered and butchered our favorite brothers on the farm for our own nourishment. Those are the most difficult days on the farm. Also the most rewarding.
What can you learn from the brothers? Does their energy transfer to your meat? It might be a bit fuzzy and a bit of a projection, but I know I’ve never seen happier pigs, that experienced so little stress and so much joy. If I have a choice of food, (which as a farmer, I absolutely do!) I am only going to choose to put food that’s raised lovingly into my body. This might be a bit too sentimental for most of us grown in industrial, sterile societies far from the real origin of our food. But why turn our backs to it? Why ignore the horrific realities of where your food comes from? Why not accept reality, embrace truth, and create a world where pigs snuggle with their brothers in the shade of chestnut trees every day? Isn’t it beautiful?
By putting happy, loving food into your body, you become that energy and it becomes you. Think about it and experience it. There’s no reason we can’t build a better world this way, and I refuse to think, believe, or eat otherwise.