The tough side to farming

The tough side to farming

We’ve been living the farm life for six months now, and I can honestly say there’s nowhere else on Earth I’d rather live. We get to wake up every morning surrounded by our animals and nature, and for me there’s really no amount of city perks that can beat that.

Remind me of this when the rooster starts warming up his vocal chords at 3am or a bush fire takes out our power lines…

But despite the isolation, and climatic extremes the lifestyle suits us perfectly and being able to grow and rear our own food has been such a privilege for me.

However there comes a time when you’re faced with some tough decisions. I have eaten meat most of my life, and as convenient as it is to pick up a pack of chicken breasts all neatly packaged from the supermarket. I found I wasn’t giving much thought to either the welfare of that animal or the impact on my body from eating intensively farmed meat. So I made the decision that if I was going to continue eating animal products, I needed to be more responsible with my choices.

Which has lead me to want to participate actively in the process of rearing and growing my own food. So that I know exactly what has been fed, sprayed or injected and have a positive influence over the environment in which it has been raised.

So I started my own veg garden, which has provided us with an abundance of greens, despite planting very late in the season.

Dennelaan veg garden

I’ve kept chickens for eggs. They have a palatial coop, and a large, grass-covered yard that they scuttle about happily pecking and plucking at all things creepy and crawly.

Nguni chickens

Our dairy herd plod about our back garden and roam wherever they please.

Dairy cows Dennelaan

With the occasional dip in the dam.

Dairy cows Dennelaan

And now my first attempt at rearing a pig that ultimately will be for the table.

Raising pigs at Dennelaan

It’s now come time to send him to slaughter, and I’ve been dealing with some mixed emotions. Feeding him daily, being greeted by him and getting to know him has made it tough. But equally my intention was always to raise him for meat. So the best way to honor his ultimate sacrifice was to be responsible for his welfare and happiness, which has given me so much more than just a supply of pork at the end of the day. I feel that I have done my best to provide him with a stimulating environment, only the best fresh produce to eat, and an all round great quality of life. Which is a lot to be said, in comparison to his factory-farmed cousins.

Raising pigs at Dennelaan

So as hard as it’s been to see him off to the butcher, I feel that I’ve taken a more responsible approach to the meat I eat.

I realise that not everyone can rear their own pigs or chickens and have dairy cows on their front lawn. But as a consumer you still have a lot of control and everyone can take a more active role in educating themselves about the state of welfare our food is subjected too.

So what can you do?

– Take a little time and make informed choices and decisions to only purchase organic, free-range, or at the very least, higher-welfare animal products.

– Visit your local butcher. They will hopefully know the farmers that they buy their meat directly from. So even though it may not be certified organic/free-range, the farm itself might comply to a lot of the specifications already, but just not have the capital to get it on official paper.

– If you can’t find free-range in your local supermarket, then ask the manager why they’re not available? If you feel you can’t afford it, then cut down on other things in your trolley or look at purchasing cheaper cuts of meat. Or simply eat less meat, if it means that the meat you do eat is of a higher quality.

– Think outside the butchery glass cabinet and try venison. You don’t get more free-range and organic that that.

– Even though I follow a strict LCHF lifestyle, and people tend to think it’s a very meat-based diet. I in fact eat a lot less meat and way more veggies than ever before. Plus, because I enjoy fattier cuts I’m fully satisfied after one small chicken thigh with the bone and skin still on and a hulk-sized portion of veg smothered in coconut oil and organic butter. Than I ever was eating a massive lean steak and tons of chips.

So as I say goodbye to my pig, I can honour his memory knowing that I did everything in my power to give him the best life possible.

Raising pigs at Dennelaan

 

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