Huff, Puff and Snuff are fattened and ready.
They’ve spent 6 months chez Rowan.
They’ve enjoyed the lush countryside.
And every juicy apple we could throw their way.
They paid for their full board by clearing our future veg patch of all weeds and brambles.
And now they are paying the ultimate price.
The process was perhaps best summed up by my daughter, Chloe.
This is how she explained to my slightly startled mother what was coming:
“Tomorrow, Granny, the pigs are getting killed. They are going to be electricity-ed. So there’s no pain. And then their throats will be cut.”
A difficult concept.
Articulated so well in classically straight forward, five-year-old language.
We did then have to have a chat about not sharing quite so much information with her school friends.
They might be even more startled than Granny.
Huff, Puff and Snuff’s fate was awaiting them at our local abattoir.
The challenge was getting them into the trailer first.
Our pigs are not known for their co-operation.
They can be a bit grumpy.
They have a combined weight of 180 kilos.
Oli has been somewhat subdued by Lyme Disease and then a dislocated knee three days ago.
I’m 5 months pregnant.
Neither of us are at our physical best.
Fortunately help to shift the pigs came in the form of our friends Rebecca and Toby, and Oli’s mother, Lorna…
Who was in her best cashmere.
After much huffing and puffing with Snuff leading the way, all three were safely on board and ready for their final journey.
I feel very sanguine about sending the boys to their bloody inevitable.
I’m not sad in the way that many people around me seem to be about their demise.
Plenty of the guys on site were determined to try and surreptitiously set them free ahead of today.
They couldn’t cope with the idea of snuffing out the building project’s porcine companions.
But I am a meat eater.
And having this sort of connection to the realities of our food, its production and eventual demise feels not only important to me, but Right.
With a capital R.
That’s not to say I am totally immune to the brutal nature of slaughter.
For me, it’s a bit like that feeling you get when you’re close to a cliff edge.
You peer over and think, “I could just leap off.”
At every stage of unloading the pigs at the abattoir I kept thinking, “I could stop this from happening.”
When I saw three noses lined up at the edge of the trailer, I thought, “I could stop it now”.
“Or now,” as we sent them down the ramp into the abattoir yard.
“Or now”, as I watched the solid metal gate close on their rotund behinds and that of the man dressed up in white wellies, blood splattered coat and blue hair net.
I confess I didn’t like the fact my pigs had to be shipped off to an abattoir.
Didn’t like that their usual Oinks and Snorts fell silent from the moment they were loaded into the trailer.
But regulations mean I can’t currently despatch them while they unknowingly trot out to their breakfast at home.
It had to be here. At the abattoir.
As second bests go, it was a pretty decent one.
These guys were firm but professional in their business of killing.
They weren’t going to fumble.
It was a quick death for Huff, Puff and Snuff.
And the point is up until now they’ve had a fantastic life.
Which is more that can be said for most of the pork, bacon, sausages, salami, ham and gammon stacked on the supermarket shelves.
The end is gritty, of course.
You can’t make slitting a pig’s throat into a nice thing.
But I think we can all learn from Chloe’s matter of fact attitude.
Be alive to the fact that eating meat means something had to die.
And try to make sure our animals have the best innings possible first.