We love our animals here on the farm, and that includes the ones we will be eating. We treat them with respect, honor their sacrifice, and grant them the dignity of a life lived to its fullest (albeit a short life, it is a good one).
We have countless visitors here, many of them from the city, who criticize this way of life: "How can you eat an animal you raise and love?" My response to that is simply, "How can you eat an animal that suffered a miserable existence in a factory farm, where it couldn't even turn around because conditions were so crowded, where it laid in its own excrement and was pumped full of nasty steroids, hormones, antibiotics, and chemicals?" (As of yet, not one of these remarks have come from a vegetarian. Having spent 15 years myself as a non-meat eater, I would not have much of an answer to someone who has made that ultimate sacrifice in the name of mercy towards animals.)
But I am at a moral crossroads in my life, having reverted back to eating meat: either I face up to where my steaks come from, or I don't eat them at all. If I can't stomach the idea of killing an animal for my dinner, then I shouldn't be eating meat, plain and simple.
As millions of us file into the grocery store each day to buy our meat, it appears we have lost touch with where it comes from. That nicely packaged steak WAS a cow, and those delicious looking pork chops WERE once a pig, and unless you are buying free-range or organic meat, I guarantee you that animal probably had a miserable life in a factory farm (especially if it is cheap meat).
Look at the difference in photos. The one above is our pigs, hanging out in their pasture, with a sprinkler hose running so that they can cool off and wallow in the mud (a pig's absolute favorite thing to do). Here is the typical way a factory farm pig spends its days:
No, it will not be easy to butcher our pigs. I love them. I wake up every morning and look forward to their antics. I talk to them, croon them, scratch their backs. And I also give immeasurable thanks for their sacrifice. They will die so that I may live. In return, I will give them fresh air and grass and room to wallow and roll and play, and all the healthy food they can possibly eat, and I won't give them hormones or steroids or chemicals or antibiotics that they don't need. And I won't yell at them, or hit them, or denigrate them in any way. And when the end has come, I won't force them into a truck and drag them to a cold and heartless slaughterhouse- instead, the butcher will come here and let them die in peace, in their home. It may not be much, but it is the least I can do.
I have come to realize our here in the country that part of my mission in life is going to be to help raise awareness of our food culture. I am not saying we should stop eating meat (although, in truth, I think that would be grand), because I realize there are many, many people who will not go that route for their own perfectly justifiable reasons (like me). But I do believe we need to open our eyes to the horrors of factory farming and stand up for our food, insisting that we treat the animals we eat with dignity and respect, if not for the sake of the animals' well-being, then for our own health. Factory farmed meat is not healthy for us or the environment!
Here is a video that is not too gruesome (believe me, there are some horrible videos of factory farms out there that make me sob), but gets to the point:
And if you need yet another reason we need to end factory farming, check out this article on the link between factory farming and potentially deadly disease outbreaks among humans: