So much to say

I pulled away from El Ranchito feeling vaguely uneasy, but also vastly relieved. I had successfully raised the pigs without malnourishing them, with only a few escapes, and they weren’t mangled on I-80 in a truck/trailer jackknife.
But I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I left something very important, very precious, in the hands of an imbecile.
Sylvia of the banana clips and fake nails–didn’t take me or my pigs very seriously. For me, though, the pigs were a twice a day (at least) interaction for the past 5 months. I had wanted their death to be important. Sylvia, though, was always in a hurry and berated me for “asking so many questions.” Duh lady, questions assure that everything gets done correctly. I knew that she was trouble but I drove away because I had no other choice. I had rented the trailer and this was the end of the road.
Last night, while at a friend’s poetry reading, I got a voicemail from Sylvia. “Your pigs are ready,” she chirped. I checked my watch, 8:10pm. I was filled with dread and hate. First of all, I thought I had made it very clear that I would be there at the time of slaughter. I really feel strongly about this. She robbed me of that. And she also robbed me of all the organ meat and blood (when I called she said they hadn’t saved it). She lamely promised that she would find the heads.
In the end, this experience makes me hate America. This is how we do everything: we rush around because time is money, even at the time of death. The modern American tradition of not using everything–of throwing all that good stuff away just to deliver me the meat on a hook, it made me feel sick. The fact that I was culpable in this fiasco made it suck even more.
So it was with a swirling rage that I drove up with Bill to pick up the carcasses. I couldn’t even look at Sylvia I was so pissed off. I wrestled them off the hooks, lay them on burlap and then scattered bags of ice over them. They have 2 inches of fat all over their bodies, and I think big guy’s going to make some great proscuitto. I carefully put their heads in buckets on ice.
We drove out of Dixon, stopped and got some peaches at a roadside stand, the smell of the pigs like in Spain, and I fretted about why I was still so enraged. Here I was, I got the pigs, they looked great, I could relax after 5 months of hard work. Why wasn’t I celebrating? Why couldn’t I let go that I missed their death and their organs?
As the juice of a peach in early September dribbled down my chin, the man I love so deeply beside me, I sifted through my thoughts of anger. Around exit 56 of Vacaville, it suddenly became clear: perhaps in seeing the pigs die, I thought I would understand the nature of dying. Now cheated of this knowledge, I had to accept it: I will one day face an equally graceless death, and I still won’t understand it.

10 responses to “So much to say

  1. Oh that just sucks. I watched Gordon Ramsay (on his “The F Word” show) with his pigs on their last day, and saw how jumpy he was, and how much “peace” he got from being there with them. It sucks that you missed out–and what did she have to gain from robbing you of that experience? So very strange of her.

    But–I also think death is a very large and mysterious expanse, one that we’ll never truly understand.

  2. On the one hand, death is momentous and final. It demands a level of reverence from which you feel cheated.

    On the other hand, these pigs were raised not for a death ceremony, but for bacon.

    That’s painting it very black-and-white, and I’m not suggesting that you can’t have both, but if you’ve been cheated out of one, at least you can enjoy the other.

  3. reading this makes me sad and angry. Sylvia’s behavior seems like a kind of carelessness and disregard for other people’s wishes that seems to happen too often, and I do think that the aspect of expediency makes it particularly American.

    I hope you can savor the meat and fins some peace with missing their deaths.

  4. Baby darlin’, you don’t need to, nor will you and I ever understand the nature of death. None of us here will. I am saddened by what has happened with your experience but, thats’s what happens.

    I hate the way our culture is as well but it’s gonna take a LOT of f’ed up stuff for that to change. Do we really want that f’ed up stuff to happen? Do any of us have a “way” to deal with it. I don’t know…

    I love you for caring and thinking about it. Which is WAY more than 99% of what others consider.

    Have you embraced the assistance of any “Native Americans” who will be able to help you figure out the “Correct ways to do things?”


  5. If you truly care about the Pigger’s “meat” (which I know you do,) You’ll make the best of what happened. And knowing you, you’ll make the experience better for the next Person who undertakes such a task.

  6. Novella Carpenter

    nat; i like your attitude. once i realized why i was so pissed off, i was ready to move on to the next step. proscuitto train, i’d like a round-trip ticket.
    thank god my friend chris lee at eccolo is going to help me turn them into salumi.
    andy; i’m smoking the Peace Pipe right now!
    christine; i keep hearing about the f-word but i haven’t watched it. sounds cool.
    lara; thanks.

  7. i’m so sorry about this, novella. this is exactly the kind of frustration i deal with every day (though not always on such a personal level). we will help you make the best of it, though.

  8. It is very sad that it is so difficult to find people with integrity these days.

  9. I must admit, I’m very jealous. Fancy pig meat is something that
    A) I really enjoy
    B) Is really expensive.

    You have a LOT of fancy pig meat in your future. Make lots of posts about how delicious it all is and how it was totally worth it. I’ve been working on my wife for a couple months, trying to convince her to let me get some piggies for meat. Maybe your posts will help?

  10. Walter Jeffries

    You write, “In the end, this experience makes me hate America. This is how we do everything: we rush around because time is money, even at the time of death.

    Don’t. Not everyone’s like that. You just got a bad one. Some of us take our time and enjoy the journey. That is all there is in the end. My suggestion to you for next time, and do let there be a next time, is to do the slaughter yourself. If you can’t do the kill have someone come to your place to do the kill either with a 22 (might be a problem in the city limits) or with a captive bolt or electric stunner. On-farm slaughter is better for the pig, produces better quality meat and a better experience for you – I strongly recommend it.

    Live well,

    in Vermont

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