“Wanna buy a pig?”
It took a few more texts back and forth before I realized that he was asking me if I wanted to buy an actual, living pig. A cute baby pig. That we would raise specifically for the purpose of slaughtering and eating.
Somehow, this struck me as harsher than a chicken or goat or sheep that would provide other benefits over the course of its life, and we would simply benefit from it in death as its natural course ended. That isn’t to say that pigs are useless animals in life. Angela told me right away to put it where my garden will be so that it can till it up and fertilize it for my next planting. And talk about a garbage disposal! They can put away 60+ lbs of waste. Wow. But still…
Let me back up here and explain more of where I am coming from. I am an avid homesteading, self-sufficient supporter. In fact, that is part of why we just moved to a two-acre lot with agricultural zoning. I get the importance of taking care of the earth and valuing our resources, and the gravity of being responsible for what you consume. However, I also happen to be the Pregnant Vegetarian – albeit no longer pregnant or vegetarian, the latter not my choice. A year ago we were happily veg, and homesteading only meant space for a monstrous garden and lots of time. We might do sheep for fiber and milk, but we would sell it or donate it when time to butcher. I had visions as grand as a small grain field that we would turn into scrumptious loaves of challah bread each Friday night for Shabbat.
Oh yes, I’m also MamaTashov, gleaning from Scripture and learning to live as God intended in a world that doesn’t align with ideals, to say the least. Our favorite holidays are Biblical, and at one time Shabbat (Sabbath) was the highlight of the week.
Then, the Baby Vegetarian was born and found to be gluten intolerant (bye bye grain fields), the Hubs was put on a low carb, decidedly not-veg diet, and now there is a baby pig ready to be added to our family. Our freezer? Both?
All at once, everything that was ideal and perfect in my mind is gone. A healthy loaf of bread, “good carbs” and balance in a diet, kosher eating, and the happy, healthy, veg diet we had enjoyed for roughly five years – all gone. It was one thing to say that everyone needs to eat how their body needs to, but I thought I knew our bodies. What happens when they betray you? The Pregnant Vegetarian was my identity, for goodness sake. Who am I now?
I would not even consider pork except that we have been choosing between chicken and turkey, and this last time we shopped I just held my nose and threw stuff in the cart out of desperation. And yes, we wound up with some of that awful Walmart pork. It’s actually dinner tonight, and I am queasy thinking about it. At least if it were our pig (pig – our PIG? it is so much easier to think about meat when you disconnect it from the animal that it was. the life that it lived…) I would know where it came from. It is going to live a life and be slaughtered anyway. Why not trust the source?
Hubs is on his way home, and we will look at our space and make a decision. I have no idea what that will be. Perhaps my desperation pork-purchase was preparing me for this moment – an abandonment of all that is comfortable and familiar and plunging into the unknown, the unsacred by all things familiar and safe. Perhaps the opportunity is a reality check that it is time to raise some other, kosher animal and quit just talking about it. Whatever happens, I can tell you that the journey is terribly frightening. I hope the destination is as liberating as I have heard.