Farm life mostly consists of routine, and one of the most routine expectations is that something out of the ordinary is going to happen when you least expect it. Puppies are usually born when you’re just getting ready for bed, a pig gets out of the pen just when you sit down for dinner, and shelters only break down in the middle of snowstorms at night. For some strange reason farm animals and nature haven’t been introduced to unionization rules; 9 to 5, no weekends. I protest.
Yesterday (Sunday) evening, for example, after watching some football and eating dinner, I went out on the road to run a routine errand. Coming home, I pulled in the driveway and it became apparent that something was wrong. My family and a friend was gathered close one of the pig pastures and they were all looking at me. To make the story short, Bella attacked one of our sows. Bella is one of our oldest and largest sows. She has always been a little “off”, occasionally showing some unusual aggression to her fellow pen mates but I have always been lenient because she had never crossed the line. Yesterday, however, she did cross the line. Something snapped and she viciously attacked another sow causing some fairly significant damage. Fortunately, my friend and family were able to contain her before things got completely out of hand and the sow that was attacked is now recovering. Bella’s fate was not as happy. An unpredictable, aggressive pig around children (not to mention other animals) is *not* an option. There was really no decision to make. Bella’s time had come. So, at around 7pm last night we gathered our equipment and tools and stayed up to the wee hours of morning crafting some of the most beautiful pork that we have yet. My beautiful wife and awesome kids all pulled together with me, staying up to do their part and (mostly) having fun doing it. Bella weighed in at 560 lbs, the chops are three inches thick, the hams are enormous, the bacon plentiful and sublime, we’re currently processing about (I’m guessing) 60 lbs of lard, our freezer is full, and there is a very large picnic roast casting its heavenly aroma throughout the entire house from the oven.
It might be thought by some that this was a crisis, others might think a burden. But this is the routine. On a farm, what happens, happens, and it is what it is, and nothing is really out of the ordinary. It is life, and for us – life just don’t get better.