This week we sent off nine of our pigs to be processed. In farming it's referred to as the "one bad day" which everyone works hard to make as good as possible. It's typically a reflective time for me even though it has gotten a lot easier to handle. One reason is that there are still pigs on the farm, there isn't an empty pen where they used to be. I have nearly a dozen piglets that were farrowed in the Fall that really need to move into that space. Also, we work with a really great abattoir who makes unloading and working with the animals as easy and stress free as possible. Compare this to my first time dropping off pigs where a total stranger didn't say anything to me, jumped in my trailer and started using an electric prod on some very scared pigs...needless to say I left in tears. I've never gone back and have done a lot more research before choosing processing facilities. In preparation for the big day we back the trailer into their pen and feed them inside of it for three days or more. This takes away a lot of stress for the pigs as this "weird cave" is apparently just the new food joint, and we farmers aren't spending time worrying whether or not we'll be able to get them into the trailer in time to make our appointment. (Some places are booked months in advance so missing this means a lot more resources along with delayed sales.) Another really helpful tip is remembering all of the people we're feeding. These amazing pigs will be Birthday celebrations, Holiday hams, or family dinners and those are some really amazing moments that we get to be a part of in a small way. Aside from this one, every other day our pigs are some of luckiest in the country. There are around 71 millions pigs in the United States and the vast majority of those are raised in confinement. Only 4% of pigs in this country actually get to act like a pig and root in the dirt, wallow in the mud, munch on grass or nuts and tear into a round bale with their siblings. Our pigs have one bad day, but the rest I've got to admit, are pretty darn great.