Day of Slaughter,
I was up fairly late the night before. I found it hard to sleep anticipating what the day ahead might bring. I wasn't sure about this part at all. It was new and I felt anxious about this new experience. Truthfully, I can't say what my feelings were, except there was a lump in my throat, and a knot in my stomach.
The fact is, I grew fond of these piglets. They were fun, smart, adorable and real. All along I knew what their pupose was, but can a compassionate person end any creatures life and not feel some pain? Intellectually, I get it. But, fortunately I don't spend all my time there. I knew that I could decide not to go to slaughter and that would be okay. But that didn't seem right to me. I wanted to know what feelings were going to come up for me and explore the whys. As a chef, and like most of us, I am removed from this part of the process and I wanted to see it through.
The pigs were herded into the slaughter house. The only thing going on when we arrived was our four pigs. They were waiting for us. The facility was clean, calm and attended by a very courteous staff.
Shelley, Mike and I went into the office for the business part of the day. They said it would be fine if we went into where they were working. After all, they were our pigs. We were in the slaughter house aproximately 15 minutes after we arrived, and the pigs were already being put through a machine to clean and remove the bristle. Five guys, four pigs, one inspector, Shelley, Mike and Me. I asked if I could take their pictures and they were fine with that. They did joke about not wanting to be on the 6:00 news. I know they don't have a problem with what they do, but some people do.
The chef part of me was fascinated with the butchery aspect. I think the better word for what I was fortunate enough to witness is "dressing". The workers dressed the pigs fast, carefully, respectfully, and they were experts. One man for each pig. The inspector told me I was unable to photograph her, because of gov't rules but I could photograph her hands as she also expertly inspected the livers, hearts and kidneys. Everything checked out fine. She took me through the entire pig's system and readily answered my questions. The chef in me took over as I asked questions and poked the livers. It's not like I haven't gutted fish before or handled livers, hearts, kidneys and everything else an animal has to offer. But these pigs were different. They were mine.
The pigs went into a chiller for about an hour. They were weighed and the weights were 82.5, 82.5, 77.8, 77.2.
This facility is not the norm for a slaughter house, first of all its very small. and Shelley and Mike feel fortunate that their pigs can be processed here when they are not able to do it at their farm.
Two of the "dressers" loaded them up in Mike and Shelley's truck.
We were on our way with four pigs in less than two hours, including the chilling time and they looked nothing like what I was used to buying. My pigs were strong, with very developed loins, and strong legs.
We drove the 40 minutes back to the farm. We loaded the pigs into my car and off I went to the restaurant. They are now in my walk-in at Brasa.
The pictures that I took that day I have decided not to post. I thought long and hard why. This part of Life of a Pig was personal. The slaughtering was not for show. The slaughtering of an animal is something to experience, if one chooses to, not observe from a blog. Although I didn't actually witness the entire process, I certainly feel that my most recent experience is bringing me and hopefully you, to a better understanding and appreciation of the full cycle of the Life of a Pig.
What's left is the preparing the feast and sharing it with you.
Preparing the Feast!