Getting ready to say goodbye to Bailey

It’s an early start this morning as I’m taking Bailey to the abattoir in a few hours. After my last blog post on the subject, they rang me and said I could have a slot on their first “pig day” since reopening.

Today is the day.

I’m dreading it.

But I can’t afford to keep an infertile boar. Well, I can feed him but I simply don’t have the space.

But he has had a good life, especially (I like to think) in the time he has been with me.

Bailey - 30 September 2009

Bailey enjoys his Last Supper

I confess, I was somewhat soppy last night and gave him a Last Supper to make any pig happy: his usual pig nuts with some of his favourite treats added it for his pleasure. And pleasure it was! I took what was meant to be a short video of him noming down, but it ended up being over ten minutes as that pig took his time, savouring each and every mouthful! Poor Tia wasn’t at all happy, especially as Bailey chased her away several times!

Then, after the sun had gone down, I sat in the field with him, giving him one last belly rub, making peace with the fact that I’m sending this big hearted pig to his death, and that in a few days, I’ll be tucking into Bailey sausages…

This is the side of the so-called “Good Life” that isn’t pretty. It’s harsh and unfair and exposes the grim reality behind the sanitised meat counters in supermarkets where a pig is nothing more than selected cuts and sausages, where consumers can pretend that their pack of bacon fell from the sky, ready sealed for freshness.

The difference between Bailey and every other older, now infertile boar in the world, is that Bailey is loved and will be missed.

Does that make it easier or harder to turn him into sausages?

I’ll tell you in a few days…

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17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by JK on 1 October 2009 at 8:47 am

    This is part of what I love about your blog. Irrespective of methods (and lets face it, there’ll always be a debate about “best” welfare practice) you clearly love your animals and do your very best to give *them* the very best. And your insight in this article is humbling. I think the authenticity of a meat eater who rears (and slaughters or sends to slaughter) their own animals is touching. My partner did the same for many years. And whilst I make the choice not to eat meat because I don’t want to exploit sentient life for my gain/sustenance, I have total respect for meat eaters such as yourself and my partner who not only eat meat with open eyes and an informed choice, but also recognise the value of the animals having a good life prior to slaughter. I hope you come to whatever you feel are the right conclusions in regards to Bailey and your other animals xxx

    p.s. this is meant to be pseudo-complimentary rather than patronising, I hope it comes across as such…

  2. Thanks, hon 🙂 I get what you mean. Almost every vegetarian I’ve spoken to about this subject has said the same as you … one has even slipped and has happily munched his way through almost a whole pig this summer… though still describes himself as a vegetarian and will only eat meat that he knows has come from farms where welfare comes above and beyond anything else.

    I’m soppy about my lot, but I’m also a realist. If I didn’t eat them, they wouldn’t exist. Each and every one of my pigs would either have been slaughtered long ago or never born in the first place.

    I’ve been mulling over a blog post about why I’m not vegetarian and how I can justify (to myself) the slaughter and consumption of animals I love … maybe I should get round to writing it!

  3. Posted by welshpurpletree on 1 October 2009 at 11:51 am

    Aww bye, bye Bailey. He has come across as a real character in your blog posts. He looks quite fearsome, but he seems a big softy really. He’s had a fantastic life with you. Just out of interest, how old is he?

    I hope you don’t feel too bad after the deed has been done.

  4. He is (was) at least 7, possibly older. Poor old boy, he was so good when he was unloaded, plodded along at his own pace, snorting at the bullock he passed on the way in! I gave him one last kiss on the nose before saying good bye.

    I’d say it was quiet without him … but I put Tia, Scrumpy, Brini, Perky and Fergie all together and from the fireworks that promptly exploded, you’d think it was 5th November already!

  5. Love you – this has to be the hardest part of your lifestyle. And it must be so much harder taking older pigs like Bails in who you’ve known for so much longer, rather than animals which have been bred specifically with sausages in mind.

  6. Posted by Granny Anne on 1 October 2009 at 11:22 pm

    I only met Bailey once, but I know how much he was loved and cared for, as are all your animals. If the “six numbers” come up this week you can keep them all as pets, and demonstrate how animals should be treated to other less enlightened farmers.

  7. Granny Anne, I won a tenner on Wednesday night … it’s a start!!!

    Jennie, you’ve hit the nail on the head – I didn’t buy him for sausages, I got him for making baby Baileys! If I had a daughter to keep on, it would be slightly different. The problem is that he was so lovely, so friendly. Not the kind of pig you want to send off to become sausages.

    Ah well, the deed has been done and I refuse to be the type of person who will happily eat meat from animals they don’t know, but won’t eat their own, even knowing how their were treated. (Relax, dogs, you’re carnivores!)

  8. Posted by greenrosie on 3 October 2009 at 9:24 pm

    I wonder how many people would read this post and be horrified that you could send Bailey to be slaughtered and then eat him – as they tuck into a ham sandwich or the like from a pig whose life in a factory farm does not bear thinking about. Bailey, from what I have read, had a great life and by moving him to the great ark in the sky you get to feast on some quality meat and he will never suffer the anguish and pain of old age. Here’s raising a glass to the memory of Bailey.

    Btw – was he always infertile or did that come with age?

    Rosie x

  9. Thanks, Rosie. Someone (half jokingly) called me a murderer yesterday when we were talking about the piglets and I said that the boars would be going at 6 months. I asked if he was a vegetarian. The answer was no….

    Bailey’s last litter was born this time last year – typically to a sow I sold before I knew she was in pig! Since then, he has been in with all three of my sows, two of whom had farrowed within the previous 12 months, and I witnessed him covering them. They returned on schedule every 21 days :/

  10. I have really enjoyed this brief dip into your world, I will spend longer asap. The dose of reality is good, I am always saddened by the number of people, adults and children, who have absolutely no idea were their meat comes from and probably more important, don’t want to know!

    We are looking forward to keeping sheep again, the freezer is dangerously low.

    Many thanks.

  11. Hi Jon, thanks for stopping by! It’s the number of adults who are ignorant about the source of their food that alarms me, but I’m doing my bit and never miss an opportunity to educate my work colleagues 😉

    I’d love to keep sheep one day, but the field I rent is too wet in winter for sheep. But it will happen! I just need to pick the right six numbers first!

  12. Posted by katie on 10 November 2009 at 9:28 pm

    reading your story about bailey has really saddened me also looking at his little face in the pics. i really dont think i could ever do this to my little piggys but they are pets and certainly not for the food chain! how did you take him there and say good bye i bet it was so hard!

  13. Posted by aaron on 10 November 2009 at 9:37 pm

    murder!!!

  14. Posted by aaron on 10 November 2009 at 9:37 pm

    your sick and you think its funny

  15. Katie, although my pigs live as though they are pets, they are very much part of the food chain and although it’s sad when they go, that is the nature of the beast, and since I have no desire to become a vegetarian, I’d much rather eat my own livestock, knowing how they’ve been treated and fed, than anonymous lumps of meat in the supermarket, stuffed with god knows what chemicals, never getting to see the light of day, forced fed to hasten their end. No, my way is infinitely better – as is the end result, the taste and quality of the meat.

    Aaron, the only thing I’m finding funny at the moment is your grammar (or lack thereof).

  16. The trolls return, I see!

  17. Not a proper troll, though. Not returned!

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