The pigs’ graduation day was very tough for me.
There was crying. There was denial.
There was a good-bye photo shoot.
And the fact that I am still calling it their “graduation day” is probably another indicator of my inferior coping skills regarding this topic.
All throughout this experience, friends, family and acquaintances reminded me, “Don’t name them–that just makes it harder,” and “You’re never going to actually go through with this,” and “Why would you do this? You’re an animal lover.”
And they were right. It was hard and I am an animal lover–but I am choosing to embrace the difficulty of the situation, and not alter my approach for the pigs to come.
Sound masochistic? Stay with me.
About a month after the pigs left us, A and I applied for and then received a Savings Incentive grant from Practical Farmers of Iowa–a great organization that strives to keep the tradition of farming realistic for a new generation.
While we were filling out the grant, we discovered that part of the strength of our fledgling operation was that we (mostly me) cared deeply for the wellbeing of our livestock.
In fact–that idea inspired the name of our farm: Aroha Acres. The word “Aroha” is Maori for the concept of love or compassion. We hope this reflects both A’s culture, but also our approach to farming.
The heritage pork we raise is not only really delicious, but we also know they are “happy hogs”– hogs that get to graze, play and get plenty of attention.
Our next group of piggies will come to us in a few months, and I am feeling excited … but also apprehensive. I know I will feel joy watching them graze and frolic while I’m washing dishes , but the inevitable day will also come. And I will probably cry, and deny and maybe take more goodbye photos.
But I’m choosing not to think of that as weakness–but rather as the way Aroha Acres will work to provide compassion for the animals and honor for the tradition.
And we still are going to name them. So if you have any great pig names up your sleeve, please leave them in the comments below!