I've called to schedule Sparkler into the Royal Butcher. Sparks is my original sow. She came to us over 5 years go and is a fantastic mother. Her last two litters have been small with no piglets surviving from her fall farrowing. After the failed fall litter we decided not to breed her again. Mike offered to let her live out her life here as she holds the status of being our original pig. She will follow me like a puppy dog. Sparkler was the one who came when I said wouldn't it be fun to have a sow so we could have piglets. After that it was "Well, if you are going to the barn to care for one why not have two, or three, or more."
I was torn about Sparkler's fate and undecided about what we would do.
The controversy this fall surrounding the oxen at Green Mountain College was a no brainer for me, of course they should be food it is cycle of life on a farm. I was frustrated by those not understanding a farm's cycle but at the same time I was debating what to do with Sparks. She is separate from the other sows and Boris in a hog paneled enclosure in the paddock with Maysa. She talks to Maysa, we have even seen Maysa grooming Spark's back like she did the other horses.
One challenge with Sparkler staying is she still goes into heat. Just last weekend I was greeted on Saturday morning by Boris out of his electric fence standing outside Sparkler's area. He easily came for food and I closed he and sows inside for a couple of days until her heat passed. Sparkler's age also has taken away from her the top spot with the sows. Last fall when all the sows were briefly together she was no longer top pig and got beaten up some. I worry about her being injured as she ages.
We talked about selling her to someone to slaughter but I've decided the most respectful thing I can do it to take her myself to the Royal Butcher. She will be treated with respect. She will experience minimum stress as I will carefully load and unload her myself.
We raise meat animals so we know they are treated well. As a farmer I believe it is my job to care for and respect them from birth to slaughter, even when it is a difficult choice.