We will see Pork or Beans on the menu all winter long, here at HappyDay Farms, available at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Bacon for breakfast, pulled pork sandwiches for lunch or pork chops for dinner, we will be reaping the benefit of our two pigs, Mr. Pork and Ms. Beans, as a result of yesterday’s industry.
I was not a party to the final curtain call, as HeadSodBuster, SmallBoy, Tim and a fellow who came up to help out, handled the proceedings. Tim is the farmhand who choreographed Pork and Bean’s dance of life, here on-farm, providing them with care at least twice a day, if not more.
|Honored dinner guest...|
Whether setting aside appropriate remnants from the produce grown on-farm, or out gathering acorns for his rotund charges, Tim orchestrated their care the way a maestro conducts the Philharmonic Symphony, with enthusiasm and dedication.
Yesterday, Gluten-Free Mama and I collaborated on breakfast first, before the chore had been started, and then later, lunch. We set out a feast for the crew comprised of slow-roasted pulled pork, from SmallBoy’s last pig.
There was a circle of continuity in this meal that felt satisfying and rewarding at the same time. The hard work the goes into the process of raising pigs, is reinforced every time you gain nourishment, strength and enjoyment from that which you are producing.
When asked if he was sure he wanted to be there for the final act, because the job could have been done by three, Tim had responded that he was indeed, certain.
Maybe he felt he owed it to his two summer sidekicks to be there, as though abandoning them to their fate without him, were some sort of additional punishment, not to be allowed.
I never did the 4-H thing, but plenty of my middle school students did, and I knew what kind of intestinal fortitude it required, to go from beginning to end. I knew that it was part of the rural culture, just as hunting and dogs were a part of the rural culture.
I can’t help but compare the act of going to the meat counter at Long Valley Market, and selecting some Farmer John bacon, to that of going to our freezer and pulling out a white, paper-wrapped package of Pork or Beans.
Yesterday, the gloom of the rain plus the day’s agenda, had brought on the “feels,” as HeadSodBuster so eloquently put it. The knowledge that our short-lived quadrupeds, with their own unique personalities, were soon to be packed away in the freezer, was sobering.
That was the one end of the spectrum; the other is the purpose and motivation for taking up residence on a mountain in the first place, 35 years ago: to become self-sufficient. Well, that and all that ground pork, ready to be made into sausage, the kind that does not contain any poisons.
To not experience emotion at the processing of the two pigs, would be contradictory to human nature. Just as the 4-H kids experienced the pain of separation, so did we all here on-farm. But it all comes back to that point of origin of your breakfast bacon: corporate America, with its association with questionable practices, or Pork and Beans, raised with care and devotion, and a sizable chunk of love.
|If you're a pig, there are worse places to be raised.|
Yeah, I know, that’s corny. Maybe it’s because I have been watching “Lonesome Dove,” yet again, as I work my jigsaw puzzles. That darn Gus brought those two pigs from Lonesome Dove, on the trail to Wyoming, becoming in Gus’s words, the first two pigs to walk from Texas to Wyoming.
Those two pigs made me smile all the way through the series, but the truth is, they were nothing but a product of Larry McMurtry’s active imagination; they did not really exist. Pork and Beans existed, they continue to exist, and we will celebrate their lives every time we sit down to a meal which includes some meat provided for us, by them.
And if that isn’t reason enough to make me smile, I don’t know what is.