So I’m upstairs with Elijah and Natalia and Micah, about to get the kids ready for bed when Petra rushes upstairs. “Dad! Dad! Mom needs you! Black pig is dead and she needs your help.” As I carried Micah outside Petra was telling me how black pig was dead, how black pig was alive but looked dead or maybe dead but looked alive.
I got out to the pen to see Erron carrying the little black lump of expired pork and dropping it into the grass to keep it away from the other pigs. We all spent a bit of time outside checking on the chickens and then went in to put the kids to bed. Once they were in bed I went back out to dispose of the pig. I put on my work gloves, got the lawn tractor and hooked up the cart. I drove over and picked up little black by the back legs and dropped him into the cart. I grabbed the shovel that was sitting nearby and walked over into the pumphouse to get my knife. I was losing daylight and the bugs were coming out so I stepped on the gas and drove out past the old grain barn. I dug a hole about 1 foot wide by 2 feet long and 2 feet deep. It would have been deeper except the bugs were biting and the shovel has a weak handle that would snap if I pried the dirt too hard. With the hole ready I pulled out my knife and gave the pig a once-over. We had noticed that the little guy had a swollen looking scrotum. Initially I thought that maybe as he was a runt they didn’t castrate him, but as the swelling was getting bigger Erron and I figured something may be “off”.
I wasn’t up for a whole slice’n’dice with the bugs descending but I had one cut in mind. I took my blade and stabbed into the pig’s scrotum to be greeted with a squishing and gaseous sound. I first thought that maybe I had stabbed into some of the intestine, maybe little pig had a blockage and the swelling was a hernia. I sliced across the bulge and a white goo came pouring out. Matter-of-factly I pulled the blade up for a sniff, it didn’t seem to smell like pig shit, or look like it either, this was not some kind of intestinal blockage. My guess is that the pig was castrated and harboured a latent infection. Maybe something like Clostridium perfringens, an anaerobic bacteria that causes gas gangrene. Anyways, I slightly lamented that I didn’t have the time to take a scraping into the lab to stain it and look under the microscope, realistically, it wouldn’t have changed a thing. I tossed little pig into the hole and piled on the dirt. I replaced the sod and did a little dance to pack it down then drove off into the sunset.
I envy our kids a bit, this opportunity to learn the real facts about life and death and meat and food, where it all comes from and how it all fits together. I never had any introductions to death until after I turned 18 and it lead to many a night in my early teens worrying if I’d die in the night. In this age of keeping your kids sheltered from “harsh reality” as long as possible they are coming in with open eyes and ears and will have a healthy understanding of life and death thanks to the farm.