Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wilbur is now 268 lbs! He has worked his way into our hearts. On October 11, 2011, Wilbur came to us all the way from California, weighing in at a mere 40 lbs. He was sunburned, wrinkly, and very, very frightened.
Hailey, with some advice from our awesome farrier, Joe Spearman, began winning Wilbur over by offering him apples...and then Nilla Wafers. It was instant love!

Through the months, Hailey has fed Wilbur every day, bathed and conditioned him every other day, and taken him on walks in our pasture and, yes, even our neighborhood every single day.

How can you not become attached to an animal after spending that much time with it?  Wilbur loves to have his chin and belly scratched.  In fact, if Hailey even comes near Wilbur's belly, he falls over for her to get a "good angle" to scratch all over. 

Now for the hard part... From the very beginning, we knew that Wilbur is an FFA project.  That means that all barrow pigs (male) have a terminal show.  Wilbur's terminal show is this Thursday at the Fort Worth Stock Show.  The teachers warned us.  They've seen it over and over again.  Kids crying while having to say goodbye to their "pets".  Let's call it what it is.  Yes, they become "pets". 

However, unless you are a complete vegan and are against eating meat all together, you must realize that the meat you purchase at that grocery store in the clear plastic wrap actually comes from an animal on a farm somewhere. 

Animals have been used for meat for ages.  Not so long ago, animals were treated with respect.  Now, you can watch films that show chickens stacked on top of each other in barns where they never even get to taste fresh grass or feel the sunshine on their backs.  Cows spend their entire lives in a barn at a feeding trough, being fattened up for slaughter... again, never getting to graze free range.  There is simply too much of a demand for meat and too many people who do not understand what is happening to these animals.  The more demand for food (fast and pre-processed), the more the industry seems to make poor decisions on the care of these creatures.  We've got to grow them faster in the shortest amount of time... after all, it's a money thing, right?

Why am I bringing this up?  I am hoping you will consider a couple of things.  I am hoping you will consider buying locally, from a farm that raises their animals with respect and consideration.  Do a simple internet search to find a farmer's market or a farm near you that raises their animals on pasture.  Purchase your eggs from ranches that have "true" free range chickens (more than just a 12" space to roam in front of their cage).  Consider preparing more meals at home and eating dinner as a family, rather than running through a drive thru.  And last, but not least, consider eating a couple of nights a week "meat free".

It is really hard sending Wilbur off.  However, we know that during the time he has been with us, he has lived a very good life.  He has had constant attention, proper feeding, exercise, and play time. 

As we say goodbye, we realize that as we close one chapter in our lives, another one opens up. With death, there is always new birth.  This has been an eye opening experience for us.  We appreciate more where our food comes from and we are more intentional about our choices.  We hope that by reading this, you will be, too.


  1. Oh, I would think that would be the hardest thing in the world, to DELIBERATELY have to kill a pet. I've lost pets in various ways, but only one that I had to put down, and I bawled for years, just thinking about it. Wilbur is beautiful. What neat markings. Pigs are said to be fastedious, if not put in dirty situations, but he seems to LOVE playing in the mud and DIGGING! Good luck with the sale and the contest.

  2. This is a wonderful lesson in animal husbandry and stewardship. My complements to the way you presented it. Congratulations to Hailey for doing an outstanding job of raising him up. We will begin our own journey in raising animals for food with the sheep we are keeping. I only hope I can be as courageous as you and Hailey when it comes time to send the lambs off to "market." Raising heritage sheep and turkeys has taught me that if we don't use them what their purpose is, the breed will simply disappear and that is truly a loss for us all.
    Lyn C