> Do you not get cognitive dissonance from killing "your children"?
Well, first, they're not my children. I don't mean that flippantly, and it's a great question to ask, it's just that my answer is: my wife is my wife, my dogs are my dogs (and, yes, family), pigs are livestock...and chickens are sort of walking squawking vegetables. :)
I shouldn't joke about chickens tho. The first time I had to dispatch one it put a deep pall over the rest of the day. Taking a life, even of something with a brain the size of a peanut, is a big deal.
The first year on the farm my wife gave all of our goats names, played with them, took them on walks, etc. I cautioned her against it...but I also used their names. Slaughter was ... not fun. Still, I did it. A .22 to the brain, and they dropped like sacks of cement.
My wife ended up not wanting to eat goat, so I ate a fair bit of goat after that. ...and she learned never to name or play with the livestock.
When we started raising pigs, we had learned from our lesson. It also helped that several times pigs escaped from our farm and had to be chased around the block and herded back to the farm, which is a huge amount of work. That put the kibosh on overly warm feelings.
Still, pig slaughter again hit me hard. Sure, I gave the pigs freshly picked apples to eat, and even their last minutes of life were better than the best day of a factory farmed pig's life, but killing is killing.
The way you slaughter a pig is [ squeamish people, please stop reading ] shoot them in the forehead. This gives them a concussion and drops them, but does not kill them. You then roll the pig on its side or back and stick a 12+" knife into its chest until it scrapes the spine, then you pivot the knife to slice the aorta and other arteries.
The pig is still technically alive at this point, although it is insensate. Because of my ethics re animals, if I'm going to take a life, I want to use every last bit of the animal. This meant capturing the gallons of blood in a five gallon bucket.
This is the most visceral thing ( no pun intended ) that I have ever done. I don't want to oversell it and say that it's "spiritual", but there is absolutely no escaping the reality of exactly that you're doing and what's going on. The act of sliding a 12" knife deep into a living, breathing thing is irrevocable, undeniable, and challenging.
Eventually even the neurological echoes stop and the animal is still.
At that point the animal is 100% gone, and you can tell. It still *looks
Photo (again, not for the sqeamish):
At this point you have to slice slots in the pigs rear angles, hook a gambrel through, and then lift it (tail up, head down). You then skin in, disembowel it, and skin it.
I had a dissociative event the first time I did this. I was elbows deep in a creature that was about 4 minutes from having been completely alive, and it was still 98.6 degrees (or whatever pigs runs at), and it was in that uncanny valley between "alive" and "foot". I was quite lucid, and eloquent, as I spoke to people around me, but I felt like I was doing something that was in an entirely different realm.
I realize that lots of people here probably hunt and killed deer when they were 10, or whatever, but this was the first large animal (larger than a goat) that I had ever killed.
Hunters often say things like "I respect the animal and feel a deep kinship with it and blah blah blah" and that's easy to hear and not really appreciate, but killing and processing a large animal really is a transformational event, and one that I'm glad I've had. There is no denying exactly what you're doing, and - to me, at least - this created or strengthened my commitment to (a) raise animals as ethically as I possibly can, (b) use every bit of them without waste.
I think that killing and eating animals is fundamental to who we are (and I don't mean "we've evolved incisors"; I mean "the rituals and process are encoded in our minds". The hand shapes the tool and the tool shapes the hand).
If anything, this belief that humans have a deep connection with raising animals makes my revulsion against factory farming even stronger.
Just as dog fighting isn't merely horrific in its own right, but extra horrific because it is a perversion of something good, factory farming takes something good and inherently human and replaces it with something cruel and inhumane. I see that as a perversion.
I hope this answered your question; I seem to have rambled a fair bit.
I myself would not do this, and therefore (and for a few other tangential reasons), I'm a vegetarian. But I fully respect how you're living. If you're going to be a carnivore, BE a carnivore. Don't be under any illusions to the contrary.
You talk about having a dissociative experience, but it sounds like, on the whole, you're having a far more associative experience than most people. When I see people casually munching on cheap store-bought ham sandwiches, having no particular concept of what they're eating or how it got there -- and who would in fact recoil in horror if confronted with that reality -- then it seems to me like they are the ones who are being fundamentally dissociative. Not you.
Anyhow, ramble ramble, but from a person with a very different approach to life: respect.
I've met people who say "I enjoy meat, but I could never kill an animal".
Fuck you. You kill animals every day by eating meat; you're just too squeamish to face up to the ethics of what you're doing.
So, hats off to all the vegetarians out there. You reached an ethical conclusion and you do the hard work to live it. Mad respect.
It's amazing what some people are willing to do for pleasure. I wish that everyone who consumed animal products had to do it your way. I couldn't do this, so I don't eat animal products. (Yet, I don't suffer a pleasure deficit or any other ill effects, but that's my personal experience.)
(I especially liked the line "Just as dog fighting isn't merely horrific in its own right, but extra horrific because it is a perversion of something good, factory farming takes something good and inherently human and replaces it with something cruel and inhumane.")
If you're going by raw efficiency, you can hardly beat factory farming. Besides the minimization of inputs, even the feathers and shit of chickens are digested to their amino acid components and used for animal feed and fertilizer. There is the unspeakable cruelty aspect... but then, I've bought ridiculously expensive "free range" turkey from a hyperlocal organic poultry farm, but, judging from appearances, the barren, rather crowded turkey yard is a far cry from a cartoon happy-animal sleepy farm.
It's nice that you're privileged enough to run your own hobby farm, but even the most artisanal of commercial farms is a business and their animals are commodities. Many of the worst cases that organizations like Farm Sanctuary encounter are cases of neglect or bankruptcy in small family-run farms.
I buy whole chickens and part them out myself, and I do use every bit of the chicken that comes in the package. The bones are used for stocks, skin gets rendered for fat, etc. So I like to think I (can?) get using every last bit of the animal.
But I'm curious, what use(s) does the blood have? I was of the impression that like the viscera, the blood is something that necessarily must be disposed -- it cannot safely be used. Is that not the case?
When I was a kid, my dad used to take me sometimes to a street vendor (this was in a small city in Malaysia, late 60s/early 70s) who ran his business from a bicycle. He had a small gas ring, a crate on the back of the bike with a couple of chickens in it, and some veggies and noodles.
My dad would order a meal and the guy would grab a chicken out of the box, wring its neck, drain the blood into a bucket, burn off the feathers, dismantle the chook and fry it up with mein and veggies. Yum!
But after handing us our food he would boil and eat the then congealed blood (and the other stuff we didn't eat). The food was great (especially since my mum did not approve) but I was always fascinated by this last step.
As I got older I appreciated that he had us pay for the meal and then still got a meal himself out of the deal.
[Blood sausage] is made using pork blood. I have never tried it myself though. What I have tried is [Sanguinaccio] made in southern Italy. It's absolutely delicious. I imagine there are plenty of other recipes that use pork blood as an ingredient too.
The only danger I am aware of--beyond the risks of eating pork products in general--is iron overdose, which means you have to ration your consumption appropriately.
The viscera may also be used, though not necessarily for food. Whatever cannot be eaten can likely be turned into glue, leather, fertilizer, string, etc.
Pig liver is a popular in dishes the world over: pate, various sausages, etc.
It's surprising how much of a pig is useful as food.
Pig intestines, heart, lungs are all part of traditional cuisine. Even the kidneys and liver are "viscera," and those are completely mainstream organ meat. Brain is also eaten (head cheese).
Photo of making blood pudding
Photo of preparing the heart before marinating it in olive oil and spices, then grilling it.
Photo of pressed, sliced, and fried pig ears as a side to a sausage sandwhich
Photo of head cheese
Photo of dog enjoying pig spine
I use absolutely everything (well, except for the intestines. Not worth my time or energy to wash the feces out and scrape the mucousal lining off).
Curious, what did you do with the lungs? That's one part that I think was commercially banned for human consumption in the USA in the '70s. Even if it wasn't, it's rarely sold fresh as I understand it does not keep well at all even under refrigeration. Pork lungs are used used in Fillipino (bopis, kilayin) and Cantonese cuisine; Europeans certainly use sheep and cow lungs (Greeks, French, Scottish; haggis, anyone), but I'm not aware of western recipes specifically calling for pork lungs.
Pork intestine, on the other hand, is ubiquitous.
I really like that line a lot. I've used a similar phrase to describe the relation between the data you're generating and consuming and the code doing so.
Very eloquent, I'm going to have to remember that one.
For instance, someone might prefer the look of hair on dogs and the feed conversion ratio of swine and thus keep dogs to pet and swine to eat.
So treat the animals like objects to make it easier to kill them? That also works for humans:
> I had a dissociative event the first time I did this.
Dissociation happens for a reason. Slaughterhouse workers get PTSD.
> I think that killing and eating animals is fundamental to who we are (and I don't mean "we've evolved incisors"; I mean "the rituals and process are encoded in our minds". The hand shapes the tool and the tool shapes the hand).
The same argument could have been made for cannibalism, but somehow we managed to get over that.
I'm not a farmer (though your lifestyle is a dream of mine), but couldn't you just use bigger caliber? I'm sure .45 would do the trick. Shooting and killing a pig instantly in one blow is one thing, but putting a knife through a still living creature.. that would be too much for me.
This allows you to collect the blood for some other use, and removes it from the veins and arteries in the muscle tissue.
Disclaimer: I am a vegetarian.
I'm only speaking in hypotheticals because I'm also a vegetarian and don't personally subscribe to that idea, but I think it's not necessarily cut and dry that avoiding killing for food is absolutely the right thing to do. Personally, I think the normalization of dominating animals is what led to a lot of bad behaviors toward humans like slavery and subjugation and that we would be better off cultivating more empathy rather than accepting the order of nature as we were born into it. There was a time before hunting and slaughtering, and I think there will be a time after it, and I think we will be better of once we have moved past it. But I also have to consider that I might be wrong.
We are in the middle of the largest extinction event in this planet's history, and it's our fault as a species. A major causative factor is our dependence on needless animal slaughter to get our jollies. I'd say we are at the opposite extreme to the one you hypothesize, and perhaps some extreme thinking to rectify this is needed. Don't let conciliation become collusion, even rhetorically.
That's a Nirvana Fallacy. I can only imagine you'd never try to apply the same reasoning to humans. That since it's wrong to cause harm to them, you're now responsible to ensuring that no harm of any kind comes to any human anywhere.
EDIT: just saw the email address on your first post.