to market, to market, to kill a fat pig

Last night I went to bed utterly exhausted but at 1 am I woke up wide awake. I had sipped a Diet Coke all day yesterday, and the caffeine was having its way with me. Immediately I began to worry about loading the pigs up this morning to take to the butcher. How in the world were we going to convince two 250-300 pound pigs to step up into a dark trailer? It seemed so unlikely. Especially at 1 in the morning.

So I got up and began watching youtube videos on 'how to load pigs into a trailer.' And then all my fears were confirmed. Each video talked about how their first few times loading pigs were complete disasters. I watched story after story and the "lessons learned" were all things we already couldn't reverse. They said, "don't ever introduce the trailer the morning of the big load." Whoops. They said, "begin feeding the pigs in the trailer a week before you take them away so they are used to being in there and hop up gladly to be fed." Trouble was, we just got the trailer the night before from the butcher shop on loan. They said,  "Don't feed them the day before so they are extra hungry to hop in the trailer." Too late. They said,  "Load them up at night so you can sleep and don't have to worry about how it will go in the morning." No kidding!

I sat back at my computer and asked God, "Lord, what are we going to do?" And for some reason I felt I should make brownies. The thinking was that they would smell the brownies and want to go into the trailer to eat them. So I made brownies. At one point I saw the oven numbers. They said 350 and I realized I didn't know if that was the time or the oven temp. Because it was about 3:50 when the brownies came out.

Finally I went to sleep, only to wake up at 6:30, nurse Alden, get up, milk Darcy and then head to the pigs. We had neighbors come to help us and it went pretty well. The first pig, having smelled my brownies, got into the trailer no problem. He gobbled that brownie and I felt very satisfied and proud.

But the second pig saw his buddy up in the trailer and seemed wise and knowing. No brownie was going to coax him. He got close a few times. He got his front legs in the trailer many times. But never those last two legs. We tried many things but to no avail. Rory ended up taking the first pig to the butcher and came back home to try again with Biggie. That's what I started calling this pig. It was actually AbraHam, but today I called him Biggie...likely 300 pounds of big pig.

Biggie wasn't having it though. He had us figured out. And even though I had baked a chocolate cake while Rory was taking the first pig to the butcher, he still wouldn't be seduced into the dark trailer.

Rory continued to wait him out, baiting him with his water and feed in the trailer but by noon he decided he had better call the butcher to tell them he wouldn't be making it in. He had been at it since 7am. But they offered to send a worker out for $20 to help us. Brilliant. Best $20 spent. Ever.

They guy came and was built for moving pigs around. In fact, he made the comment that living pigs aren't nearly as heavy as dead-weight pigs. He ended up putting a five-gallon bucket on Biggie's head getting him good and discombobulated while tuckering him out. In the end he and Rory were able to push Biggie's hiney into the trailer. It was muscle against muscle but I think Biggie just could smell my delicious chocolate cake in the back of the trailer and decided to give up the fight. The sweaty, muddy, exhausted men might say it was their brute force and determination that got him in there.

Either way, it ended well. And we are so glad. We have SO MANY experiences like this, learning on the fly, trial and error, failing, trying again, learning from mistakes, watching videos, reading books, asking questions. It's a humbling way to live! It would be great to know all things about all things from the start. But every experience is brand new and at the end of the day we can lay down and say exactly what we learned that day. It keeps you on your toes. It robs you of your sleep. But there will be a day come August that we will eat a BLT and the B the L and the T will all have come from our own farm. And that is the reward for the exhausting, exhilarating and memorable days like today.

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