I dedicate this entry to Per-Otto Haaje, who taught me about pig farming and his family that treated me like one of their own. Years later, my parents met up with them in Oslo, Norway. Their daughter, Siri-Anne came to my state to attend Washington State University for a while. She was about 10 when I was there so must be nearing 50! My life flies by.
One evening, Per came and got me to come to the barn with him. A sow was giving birth. This was always stressful because the sows were very important but things can go wrong when delivering 12 babies. Per had to wear gloves that almost reached his shoulder to reach inside and make sure things were ok. It was quite remarkable to watch. The sows are huge so it is also dangerous to work close to them. They could crush you. One time when the male piglets were having their testicles removed the sow got so upset that she reached her snout under the fence and literally lifted me off my feet with her nose! True power.
Before I write the next part, I wish to say I am happy that I don’t eat pork, chicken or beef any more. The pigs we raised were to be used for meat. We had approximately 10 square pens five on each side of a walkway. There were eight to 10 in each pen, so close to 100 pigs. My memory may be off. The day arrived for the slaughtery truck to take them away. The large vehicle pulled up to the side of the barn and a passageway lined with boards was built so they could not escape. Per gave me a board to hold at the far end of the passageway. My job was to move forward as pigs were released from their pens and make sure they could not turn back. It was mayhem and upsetting. Somehow the pigs knew something was wrong. They were making squealing sounds I had never heard as they were forced on the truck. They fiercely pushed back on the board I was holding. It was unnerving and some eventually got past me. When they were all in the truck and the door was closed I felt physically and emotionally drained. Maybe I hadn’t considered that part of the process. I asked the farmer if I could visit the slaughtery to see the rest of the process, because I thought I should, but he would not allow it. So that is the end of my pig stories.