As a general rule, I don’t get attached to farm animals. They move in and out of our lives so quickly, it just seems reckless to become attached.
It only takes two fingers from only one hand to count the number of farm animals — animals God created to feed us — that I have an emotional attachment to. One is our first bottle calf, Lucky Lady Sally, and the other is our first pig, Pork-n-Beans.
Lucky Lady Sally arrived on the farm when our babies were still babies. And for convenience’s sake, we tied her to the tree outside our back door rather than inside a barn or an enclosed area (like normal farmers). I don’t know how many times helpful neighbors drove by, saw Lucky Lady in our yard, and called to warn us that we had a calf out.
But at that time it worked for us. The kids loved her. And we loved her, too.
Even after we weaned her and moved her into the field, she was never just one of the herd. She would come to the fence as soon as she saw us (I’d like to think she was answering to her name, but who knows), and we would pet her and talk to her.
When she lost her very first calf, Matt said that was a bad sign and that she needed to “go to town.” See, cows cost A LOT to feed (I am too lazy to look up the amount of acreage it takes to supply ONE cow with nourishment, but it’s a lot) and to keep one around who can’t give us more money (calves) is a complete waste of time and precious resources.
So he loaded her up.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was outside for some reason (probably corralling my own
animals kiddos) and he was getting ready to pull out of the drive. I remember the panic hitting and running as fast as my Muck-clad legs could go, screaming, “WAIT, WAIT!!!”
Somehow, I convinced Matt to keep her, despite the grim chance she would ever earn her keep.
Today, she can still be found roaming our field. She is also the snottiest cow we have. She is always the cow that leads the rest in a break out. Every time.
The memories have worn off for Matt, I think. Too many broken fences. Too much time wasted getting everybody back how he wanted them.
But not me. Lucky Lady Sally (named by our first born) will always have a place in my heart and therefore, on our farm. She will probably be our only cow to die here of old age (which I think is pretty rare).
Knowing how I reacted with Lucky Lady, Matt warned me multiple times before we got our first butcher pig, Pork-n-Beans. I think I begged for years (or at least lots of months) for her.
And then one day, Matt found a pig source, and he brought her home.
She was mean at first and literally barked when anyone went to see her. Matt tamed her down and we could eventually get her to fall asleep by scratching her back. She loved to talk when you visited the barn (now I’m REALLY sounding crazy) but I became quite attached.
This morning Matt was scheduled to take her to the butcher. Because that’s what you do when pigs grow up. You eat them.
Even if you can put her to sleep by scratching her hairy back. Even if she chats with you while you search for hidden chicken eggs in the barn. Even if you sorta
love really really like her.
Because she was born to be a source of food and nourishment. Not a pet.
I didn’t say goodbye to her. I feared we would have incident No. 2 of keeping something that was not meant to be kept. I didn’t remind the kids she was leaving today either. (Throughout her life, we openly discussed Pork-n-Beans’ purpose on our farm with the kids. So they won’t be surprised when we bring her home in the form of meat for the freezer.)
But I’m sure Kadence, our most tender-hearted off-spring, will shed a few tears when she takes a load of scraps down to the barn to feed Ham Bone (our other pig) and she is reminded of Pork-n-Beans’ absence.
All of this is good stuff.
It’s good to see your meat ALIVE and to feed it and to nourish it. It’s good to be aware of where your food comes from. This whole process, while sometimes difficult, gives me more respect for my food. I believe we waste less because we know what it takes to raise the chicken or the beef or now the pig. It’s how it’s all meant to be.
So now we wait.
In 2-1/2 weeks, Pork-n-Beans’ destiny will be fulfilled through our nourishment.
Circle of life. Easy or not.
Oh, and a little side note about Lucky Lady Sally: she has, to date, given us a three or four LIVE calves!
But she is STILL a giant pain in Matt’s neck!
Categories: Animals on the farm
My name is Ginia Oehlschlager and I'm a small-town gal from Missouri. Join me as I document my crazy life on the farm with my husband and four kids. I'm always looking for frugal, simple ways to live the life God set before me. Where faith, family and fun come together on the farm.