Well today was the day of slaughter for Billy and Bobby. It took weeks of searching to finally find someone who would come and kill them for us. We could and maybe should have done it ourselves, but we were in office jobs only months ago! This is a big step. Normally the “Kill Billies” do the killing around here but they retired. We were getting scared and Rob started looking up how to do it ourselves (meaning we’d have to borrow a gun) when our neighbours who are the local butchers gave us someone to contact. That person put us in contact with a young guy who used to work in a slaughterhouse and now wanted to make this a business. So he came over and did it for the first time privately, meaning he came with no equipment other than a rope, bar, knives and a gun.
So you might be interested in how it went in case you want to do this yourself, or are just curious. If you aren’t then you probably don’t want to read this post.
Paul (I’ll give him that name as I don’t think this guy is registered as a business yet), came over this morning at 7:50am just as Rob was putting the final touches on a 9-foot high A-frame hoist he made (in a bit of a panic I must say as it was a bit wobbly). We asked around for a tractor with a bucket on it that could lift to 9-feet but couldn’t find one so had to build the frame. We weren’t supposed to feed the pigs for 24hrs before to have their stomachs empty, but Rob gave them some hog grower pellet food soaked in half a bottle of brandy just before anyway, to calm them down. Other things we needed were a hose nearby, a place to put the guts/skin/head (which was put in our compost and covered with considerable horse manure that we had gotten from a neighbour), and the truck beside ready to go. Rob also setup the walk-behind tractor to use with the hoist to pull up the pig.
I went to help finish the wobbly A-frame as Klara watched some cartoons and then when I was back inside, at 8:39am, I heard the gunshot. It took them an hour and a half to drain the blood on the field, drag the pig from the pen across a patch of grass and down to the truck, hoist it up (the walk-behind only helped a tiny bit) and cut it up. The second (bigger) pig waited in the field. No screaming or even anything from that pig. Maybe that was due to the brandy.
When I returned from dropping Klara at preschool, with Sam sleeping in the back of the car on this cool autumn day, I wandered down to help. Paul was sawing the pig in half and bagging each half in a white cloth.
They told me they’d need help with the second pig as it was too big. Paul even asked me to call the butcher and ask if we could bring it whole dead pig there and use their hoist as the three of us + tractor wouldn’t be able to pull it up. Even if it did, would our wobbly A-frame hoist support the weight? When I was walking to the house to make the call (which was fine with the butcher in the end, they are good friends to have!), Rob called out and asked if I wanted to see them kill the second pig. I said yes.
When I returned Rob was scattering pellets on the ground and Paul was taking aim with the rifle. He made a mental X between the ears and eyes (do not shoot between the eyes he said) and shot. With one shot in the brain it was obvious the pig was dead immediately. How awful to watch. It was a first for me and quite a shock. I pictured the life leaving the pig as it twisted and turned on the ground for a good few minutes. After 2minutes Paul put a knee on the neck of the pig, facing away from me. I thought he must be tender at heart after all as he was holding the shaking pig down. Rob even followed and held the back down. I came closer and walked around the pig and realized Paul hadn’t been holding it down but slitting its throat, there was a large pool of blood forming around the big slit.
After a few more minutes it was time to drag the pig. They each took a foot and told me to grab the ear. We needed to drag it headfirst to avoid pulling against the grain of the hair, as it would make the dragging harder. Rob could hardly get a handle on the ear on the first pig so before I grabbed it Paul poked a hole in the ear and told me to put my finger through to use it as a handle!!! No way. I said there was no way I was putting my finger through a hole in the pig’s ear. Definitely not after the shock of seeing my first animal killed. So Rob did it. He was also a little shocked I think but he had to kill chickens and rabbits, etc. during survival camp in the military. I guess just the fact that he was in the military helps. When I was dragging the pig by the foot the skin felt so human. When they stopped for a break I just held on to the foot for a while, it was so strange. Then we very awkwardly lifted it into the back of the truck using the wheelbarrow and off they went to the butcher.
At the butcher, they had to wait a while. Another man and family showed up at the same time with a dead elk in the back of their truck. They had gutted it and skinned it before – not sure where. Paul and Rob were able to use a proper hoist though and did what they needed before putting the half-pigs in a large freezer containing a cow, sheep, and now elks and pigs. We have to wait 10 days for the cuts, they seem to have good business!
Rob returned with the innards/skin for the compost as the butcher didn’t want to put those in his garbage, we kept the feet for the dogs. We had three pages of possible cuts of meat to choose from so Rob just chose a variety. 3 hams in one side, bacon, various kinds of sausages, etc. Now we wait.
I will miss the piggies. I will miss putting any and all food waste in the pig bucket in the kitchen (except bones and citrus pretty much) and having to go feed them twice a day. I’ll miss them escaping all the time and seeing Rob flip out whenever they break through the fence. I’ll miss worrying about them in the night and hearing them smash into the metal fencing as they fight. But, I’ll enjoy them in my plate and I know for sure we’ll get more some day. They did do a fantastic job of digging up and fertilizing the field we put them in. Goodbye piggies.