Lambs to market

On Friday, Dave took the rest of the lambs off “to market”.  Managing transport of the animals is always a challenge.  This Monday Dave attempted to bring the remaining 5 pigs off to their destiny.  He cleverly enticed them onto the trailer with food and the five jumped up happily.   He then covered the trailer thoroughly (he thought) as the last time a pig had jumped out.  Next, he laid down the fence and backed his truck up to the trailer, and as he was hooking it up, one pig found the slight hole through which he could fit, and pigs flew!  3 of them jumped out and with no more fence around the yard, ran free.  Although I wasn’t there, it is easy for me to imagine the sounds the pigs were making as well as Dave himself.  He had lined this appointment up months in advance due to the tight schedule of the “pig market”.  He had a full day ahead of him and had started early because of that.  Although he managed to get the three pigs back into a fenced area, there was no getting them back in the trailer, and he went off with the two he had.  For the rest of the day he believed he’d have to now keep the 3 until January – trudging twice daily through the snow and ice at Soule Homestead – but Tuesday he confirmed he could use a different “pig market” and so will try again next week.

The lamb event was much smoother and Dave devised a new and simple way to load them into the truck.  When they were all in their barn he closed the door and then backed the truck right up to it – as the turkeys barked and gobbled and surrounded the vehicle sniffing it with curiosity.  He then opened the back and I blocked one side.  He lifted the first and then second lamb onto the truck and the rest just jumped right on.  It was the smoothest animal event yet.

As Dave drove off, I struggled, yet again, with this part of the process.  Earlier in the season the time came for three of the lambs and I offered to take them to Groton to save Dave the trip.  I had to flip up the rear view mirror so I couldn’t see the lambs in the back during the drive, and after dropping them off, it was all I could do to fill out the paper work quickly and get back in the truck before bursting into tears – some farmer’s wife I am!  As Dave drove off this time, the emotions weren’t quite as strong, but I dove into washing arugula trying to focus all my attention on removing every bit of organic dirt so that my thoughts didn’t stray.

I feel very good about what we do and how we raise and care for our animals.  At least for every pig, cow, and chicken purchased from us, that’s one less being raised in a feedlot.  The lambs graze peacefully on earth that has not been covered with fertilizers or pesticides and the people that purchase our meat care about buying their food locally and helping to support sustainable agriculture.    And when we sit down for an incredible meal of leg-of-lamb, potatoes, kale and other food we’ve raised, I am happy.  I respect and admire how hard Dave works and am filled by the thanks our members and customers share with us at the CSA and market.   But I still find myself struggling with those moment where we transition the animals from the quaint farm scene to the delicious meal.  I feel somewhat hypocritical in that and wonder how much of it is due to the fact that until now, I’ve been disconnected from the most real and necessary component of life which is growing, harvesting, and raising our food – something that, once upon a time – the majority of us participated in.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Lambs to market

  1. Ann-marie Burke

    Hello Mr. Purpura,

    My name is Ann-Marie Burke and I am an assistant professor in the Biology Department at Massasoit Community College in Brockton. I am also a faculty advisor to the Emerald Earth Club, a student environmental club on campus.

    On April 28, 2010, the Emerald Earth club will be hosting their annual Earth day fair from 11am-1pm in the quadrangle on the Brockton campus. The goal of the fair is to promote sustainability on the Massasoit campus and in the surrounding communities. We would like to invite you to participate in this year’s Earth Day fair. Please note that the Earth Day fair is being held the week after the actual Earth day so as not to coincide with other Earth Day activities in the community.

    The Earth Day fair is an opportunity for students, faculty and members of the local community to learn about sustainable practices and choices occurring in their area. Our hope is to make students aware of current issues in this area so that they can make informed choices in the future.

    At last year’s fair there were 20 tables of presenters and over 200 attendees. Each presenter is provided with a table at the fair. Some groups bring informational posters, some hand out flyers and some hand out samples of their products. It would be great if you could bring information about your farm, organic farming methods employed, info and bring some produce to sell. We would greatly appreciate your participation in any way

    Please let me know if you are interested and we can talk more about this.

    Thanks,

    Ann-Marie Burke, Assistant Professor
    Biology Department
    Massasoit Community College
    1 Massasoit Boulevard
    Brockton, MA 02302
    (508) 588-9100 X1619
    aburke@massasoit.mass.edu

  2. Tanya

    This is a beautiful post. My boyfriend and I fantasize having our own farm some day. I try to imagine myself raising happy, healthy animals and then keeping myself composed when its time to say goodbye. Whatever happens when that time comes, I will have learned something true about myself.

  3. What you’ve written captures well the ambivalence, I too, feel about the raising of animals for food. I couldn’t do it. I would quickly imprint on each creature (or they on me?) and therefore would never send anything to market. In short order I’d be overrun with..everything.

    The speculation about your animals’ ‘alternate destiny’ is well taken; the hell that so many ‘factory’ creatures endure is hard to think about sometimes. I think as long as the people you entrust your animals to are as conscientious with their responsibilities as you obviously are, then that’s about as good a arrangement as can be in this world.

    I’m glad there are people like you doing things in a responsible, sustainable way. I hope it’s the way of the future.

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