Eating a pig we named, and bees, and fermentedness

pigs etc

I’m not sure how she got called Fatso. Probably because there were three of them, and she was the plumpest, by a fair margin.

She was the pig which tended to disregard the electric fence occasionally and go for a wander, delighting in rearranging select parts of the forest garden, causing us to call her all sorts of names, none of them polite… 

My first attempt at woodfired roast pork, featuring fatso...

My first attempt at woodfired roast pork, featuring fatso…

Now winter is here, and we’ve processed Fatso and her sisters into pork, which will feed us and everyone who comes to Milkwood Farm for the next 6 months.

It’s part of how this system functions, and the pigs have done a great job this year, between their tractoring and their converting the leavings of the market garden to protein.

We have the mixed blessing of interacting, every day, with folks from all over the world via our social media. And posting a picture of a home-grown pork roast, with a name attached to it, can result in a large conversation with multiple points of view.

I think what some of the militant no-meat people were trying to say that anything you name is necessarily your pet, or ‘friend’, and thereby, if you name something that you eat, you are only one shifty step from eating your grandmother, or your children.

I don’t actually think that’s correct. I do worry for our species a bit however, with comments like that one. I worry that our collective dis-connectedness from the cycles of life and death and nourishment in many forms might be nearing completion…

I wrote about the pig processing process at Milkwood Farm last Christmas in Learning to be ethical omnivores, and I cannot deny it’s an emotional process. As it should be.

Fortunately for me, Paulette from Provenance Growers wrote a kick-ass blogpost about this very subject this week, so rather than feeling the need to re-explain I can just point you at what she said about the processing of her family’s pigs into food. Pigs with names, mind.

Paulette, like me, also managed not to eat her children as a result. She did however make a good point:

“So many people tell you not to name an animal you are planning to eat. I would argue otherwise. It is this distance that allows us to perpetrate cruelty in the name of economics.”

Actually Paulette made a range of good points and you should just go read her article here...

Kitchen garden out the back of Three Blue Ducks

Kitchen garden out the back of Three Blue Ducks

This week I’m in Sydney, awash in the instant delights of the city, the primary highlights for me being reliable internet, and espresso. God. It’s so NOT SLOW here. I forgot.

I checked out Three Blue Ducks (finally) after years of meaning to. Wow. And their little garden out the back is gorgeous, with chooks and a veggie plot and even a beehive in the back.

The bees were busy foraging, and bringing in pollen so they’ve clearly not gone broodless like ours have over winter (pollen is collected primarily as food for baby bees, so if you can see pollen entering the hive, the queen is laying and the colony is rearing brood).

Sydney winter bees

Sydney winter bees

It feels a bit like a different country down here… warm days, buzzing bees, veggies bouncing out of the ground… and everywhere I look, braces and beards are in.

I also found the new Milkwood Farm chef for the season. Her name is Danni. She’s awesome. We can’t wait to welcome her to Milkwood, and you’ll hear heaps more about her in the coming months.

Lastly this week, and partly thanks to city-strength internet, we’ve managed to get things to the point where we’re ready to announce that the one and only Sandor Ellix Katz will be joining us (and hopefully you as well) in Australia in February 2014. Read all about it.

In the meantime, I’m making the most of my first solo city break since crash-landing into motherhood over 4 years ago. So naturally,  I’m off to try the delights of Young Henry’s Enmore brewery. I’m expecting more beards and braces. And cider. What could possibly go wrong.

>> More off-farm adventures…

16 Comments

  1. Carly Hanrahan
    Posted July 20, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink | Reply

    Awesome post. Agree with the disconnect with what society eats. We have been processing feral goats of late and use the whole animal and are about to get sheep for meat and milk and have cows for near and soon for milk.

  2. Posted July 20, 2013 at 7:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    Yep, my children are still thriving!! Isn’t it the hardest, most wonderful thing! We spent all day yesterday butchering, salting and sausage making, and we finished, exhausted and scoffing the most delicious pork steaks and sausages. Two pigs have given us at least 70 meals of fresh cuts, 40kg of bacon, three monstrous hams, 5kg of blood pudding, 3kg of liver terrine, soup bones for months and heaps of other experimental cured things and also their incredible garden services. Great food for our family and wonderful bartering commodities to swap for other food, help with fencing…. Thank you so much for your kind words, enjoy Fatso and her friends!

  3. Posted July 20, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink | Reply

    you ate your pet, wow, personally I would have to have someone else slaughter it and cut it up and make it look like the packages at the store, lol..in fact i would give them half of it for payment, how do you stun your pig? i seen a video where they had hand stunners, another guy had a big sledgehammer hit the pig in the head and you could tell it was dead instantly. some use a gun, which is like a hand stunner same principle, fatso really looks good, juicy, that garden is really nice, I am thinking of planting a fall garden this month.

    • Posted July 20, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink | Reply

      er, it’s not pet. It’s an animal on our small holding. Big difference :)

  4. Posted July 20, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink | Reply

    I agree. I think its sillyness really that if you name an animal that you eat it makes you some kind of sociopath. Im waiting on a reply from someone with berkshire pigs ready to go in a month. Hoping to pick up two to breed and one to share the meat with my mother. Also plan on raising goats and eating the males.

  5. fraseroldmillroad
    Posted July 20, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink | Reply

    Good for the soul a bit of city madness! I can handle 3 days before the shine starts to wear off. Enjoy

  6. Brotherkith
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Reblogged this on Kith’s Eco-blog.

  7. Posted July 21, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you for that wonderful narrative on Fatso. Being a vegan, and not of the militant type, this general disconnectedness from our “food” is what has gotten me into my current position. I don’t regret — nor am I likely to reverse — my choice. If one choses to eat flesh, respect and care of that farmed animal for her entire life before she is dispatched should be the NORM. That, or hunt sustainably. Going to read Paulette’s piece now.

    I enjoyed the post!

  8. broflower
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 6:29 am | Permalink | Reply

    I guess for some of us its not about a pet or a name but about a recognition that we share one consciousness and that what we do to others we do to ourselves for that reason I choose not to kill other living things .I say this not in judgement of others but just to provide another persepctive on a way of living.I am happy to do permaculture with fruit and veg.

  9. Cathryn
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink | Reply

    I would love to be able to have a pig to rear to eat… not allowed in suburbia, but I I think I would call mine ‘Bacon’.

  10. wendy muffet
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Our Fatso was named Runty – the runt of the litter and the most “out there” of her siblings. We give thanks to her for our sustenance and her contribution to the health of the land at Girragirra.

  11. lawrenceofarabia
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi, I live just down the road from the Ducks and drink Henry’s at the Cook House in Randwick !!! Love to show you the very dynamic Randwick Community Gardens

  12. Dean
    Posted July 24, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Given a famine situation, anyone will quickly conquer their sensitivities, even if it involves a named animal. My depression era Grandmother had no qualms about dispatching an animal for food when we were growing up in the 60’s. Having said that, I am an absolute woos when it comes to taking the life of an animal but I remain aware that circumstances can drive a change in attitude.

  13. Posted August 4, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink | Reply

    Good post. I’m off to read Paulettes now too. When we were rearing a flock of roosters for the dual purpose of eating my weeds and filling the freezer, many people got very squeamish about it and refused to even look at them. One person even told me I was cruel for talking to them every day! We didn’t name ours, but not really intentionally. They all had personalities, and we knew them though. Do I feel bad eating them? No, I feel pleased that unlike the chicken in the supermarket, these animals had a chance to know human kindness and to live a cruelty free life. I am grateful to be able to put healthy meat on the table for my family knowing this. And I will feel the same when we eventually start rearing lambs for the same purpose.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Pets or Meat? Part I | Rosemary and Rock on August 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    […] though, I just want to write about his cows.  I was thinking about them because of this great post at Milkwood, currently my favorite blog about homesteading and permaculture.  The […]

  2. By Pets or Meat? Part 2 | Rosemary and Rock on August 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    […] Kristen at Milkwood and Paulette at Provenance Growers, we didn’t do our own slaughtering.  We might have managed a […]

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