"At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service." ~Mr. Fred Rogers

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bringing Home the Bacon; A Tale of Slaughter.

I think that is was just a matter of time before this post was written. I'm sure you can guess by the title what my Saturday morning entailed, but first, a little background information.

I do live on a farm, and we do indeed have pigs. We also have 15 +/- (depending on what is for dinner) chickens, as well as 2 cats (yes, we got another kitten) and a dog. Also, I have been discussing for sometime now that I did want to kill a chicken. Mainly for the experience and satisfaction of actually doing it, but it's probably a good life skill in case that situation were to ever present itself again. But little did I know that my wish of helping slaughter dinner would come true, but in pig form, rather than chicken.

So I'll set the scene. Saturday morning: 6:30 a.m. I am politely woken up my Lecia, who explains to me that if I wanted to help kill a pig, I should get dressed and come downstairs. I was beyond clueless as to what was going on, mainly because I had not been told about the pig slaughtering, but also because it was 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday. But, I was up and I was "ready" to help out and/or observe. I walk outside, and Lecia, her brother, and I go do the deed. Without going into too much detail, it was quite the experience, and probably something that I won't volunteer to do again. Not that I walked away a vegetarian, but I feel like once you've seen one pig slaughtering, you've seen them all. I did well throughout the whole thing and helped out enough without getting in the way. Feel free to e-mail me if you want more detail, but I feel really lucky to have had such an experience, one that did make me think. 

I have, for some time now, been reevaluating what I've thought of food, much to the thanks of a fantastic class I took at Cal Lutheran called "Food Gardening". In the class, we started a small scale community garden at CLU (which has taken off and found a permanent home on campus) and also discussed "food"; where it comes from, how it's produced, what we can do in our lives to support ethical and humane practices, organic farmers, etc. I decided, from that class and many discussions with peers, that it is important for me to know where my food comes from, especially my meat. Well this weekend, I have never been more clear as to where my meat came from. Simply put, it came from my backyard. And not only my meat, but the potatoes, the carrots, the beets. Almost everything I ate this week was cultivated by my host mother.

In the States, it is so expensive to eat "only organic" or even to buy ethically raised meat. You have to really commit time and money to supporting such a diet. But then I move to Ukraine, a country that is often seen with so little, and so much to gain and I eat such quality food. What I (and many like minded Americans) strive to put on my plate is regularity and a way of life here, as it should be. The simplicity of life is what I envy and value most here, and what I have been learning so much from. I appreciate the opportunities presented in Ukraine that have only begun to teach me. I cannot wait for more of them throughout the coming months and will take each one as a way to learn and to grow, even if they are a little bloody.


  1. Hey Ben,

    G'ma says,"Right on Ben"! She reports that she has participated in "many a pig butchering while growing up". She wants to know if you scalded the pig to get rid of the hair.


  2. Thank you for sharing that experience. Thank you for understanding where food comes from and not being a "weenie" about it. Hooray for you. There's so much more to being a conservationist (meaning using all to its fullest, and not wasteful). I'm sure your experiences on the farm will be with you forever.