One of things I love about farm life is the fact that our lives are constantly enriched by the presence of domestic animals.
We hand rear all the little Jersey calves, and the odd orphaned lamb as well. We have pigs and piglets, which I must say have HUGE personalities in comparison to the sheep, which I've always found rather uninspiring,( although they do look pretty dotted about the veldt.)
The Jersey cows are our pride and joy, as well as our bread and butter. They are the most dignified creatures, and they produce the lush , creamy milk that makes our dairy products so utterly delicious.
The sad truth is that all these animals that have been so lovingly reared, ultimately end up either in our own pot, or somebody else's. I've always felt that once animals have been named, you can't eat them. Bacon the pig, is safe for now. He looks too unappetising. When his time comes he'll probably end up as dog food. Recently however, Lucky Johnny Cutie, the lamb that our daughter so diligently hand reared, and Wilbur the pig both ended up in our very own pots.
Who can resist the tender, succulence of a slice of rare roast beef? Pork crackling? The crispy fat on a braaied lamb chop? Sucking the juicy marrow out of a shin bone? Not I...
I do find it a little tragic that our five year old, is always franticly checking up on which of her pets is going to be slaughtered; "No! You are NOT going to slaughter the chickens." Her little finger points accusingly in my face. Her green eyes look fierce and she pouts her lips.
"Don't worry sweetie, we'll keep them if you love them so much."
I'm afraid I told her a Mongoose killed them.
"I don't much like pork," she recently decided. Every time a pig is slaughtered she runs to check if Girl Wilbur is still there. "Which pig are we eating now?" she asks.
"It's one you don't know," I reply lamely. But I know, she knows them all.
She is familiar with life and death. Mating, and giving birth are things often witnessed. I have held her in my arms , sobbing over the loss of a little piglet that was squashed by its own mother. I tell her about heaven. About how not a single sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing. We pray together that God will heal her broken heart.