Hospice and Altruism


Near Earth Experience

Today Ben and I just moved a pig out of Hospice and back to the north field with the northern herd. Sometimes something goes wrong with a pig and it needs extra attention, thus the intensive care unit by the cottage.
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Many people just euthanize pigs like that. It is hard to justify the cost of a vet and people say they don’t like seeing the animal suffer. But what I have learned over the decades is the animal would rather suffer and heal – I know I would. As long as they’re willing to try I offer them supportive care. We bring them in closer to us where they can be separate from the other pigs. This lets us focus on them, pay attention to them.

Also, pigs are rather mean to each other. They will target and kill the weak amongst them. This is a herd behavior because the weak may attract predators and scavengers. By killing or leaving behind the weak the herd survives. So a pig’s strategy is to beat up the weak individuals. Pigs do not do altruism. Pigs are not kind. Pigs are not loyal. But Hollywood and animal nut groups have made them out to be much like us. They are not. Or rather they are like the worst of us, the Trumps and the Clintons.

It is a very strange thing this false perception of animals, this anthropomorphizing that is totally backwards. Contrast this with wolves who are thought of as being so scary but they will support their weak and care for them. They bring pre-chewed food to their lame, their old, their pregnant, the nursing mothers. The wolves babysit. They care for the elderly and the infirm. Wolves do altruism. They are like the best of us.

So today Ben and I moved Pig-Pig, the name we often give to a pig living in Hospice, back out to the north field now that he is all healed up. He had been a weak pig and something, possibly another pig, possibly a bear or coyotes, tried to eat him alive. They took a big chunk out of his skull, another huge chunk out of his neck, others out of various legs. The bite marks looked like they were fanged so coyote and bear come to mind.

After about eight weeks in Hospice he is now fully healed. Pig-Pig is blind in one eye but he gets along and is filled with vigor now. Quite the contrast to the nearly dead animal with his brains, skull bone and other bones showing when we brought him into the Hospice.

So there is hope. Even an animal that is badly chewed up can be saved. Most of all it is a matter of providing supportive care so its body can do the work of healing.

Once Pig-Pig was back out in the north field I planted the Hospice with fast growing seeds. I may harvest some peas, beans, radishes, broccoli and such, all plants that love the rich soil left behind in the intensive care unit. These will be good food for the next occupant.

Outdoors: 72°F/54°F Partially Sunny, 2″ Rain
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/72°F

Daily Spark: Your legs should be long enough to reach the ground.

Feel free to substitute your own least favorite politician.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor…

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2 Responses to Hospice and Altruism

  1. Conni Whittaker says:

    Hi Walter, You bring up an important point about anthropomorphizing animals. As cats and dogs become the only “family” people relate to, they are beginning to extend that family feeling to livestock. Not livestock in CAFOs mind you, just livestock in other people’s backyards or farms. In other words, animals that they might actually get to know face to face. I have friends and acquaintances that see my animals and cannot understand how I can eat them even though they consume animals from the supermarket everyday. Coming from a package they are no longer animals. It amazes me that it doesn’t seem to matter to them that my animals live good and healthy lives compared to the animals that they actually consume. This frightens me because these are the people who would love to see petri dish meat. Their fuzzy feelings could lead to them being unwitting stooges supporting legislation sponsored by corporate agriculture to outlaw homesteads and small farms.

    I do name my food for identification and cathartic purposes. You had asked about our pigs names year before last and I had forgotten the names. All I could remember was that they were delicious but I remembered watching TV “news.” These three pigs were never very well tempered or friendly, good cull choices on your part. We had a very rude bossy female pushing everyone else out of the way and standing over the food so no one could eat until she was done, I noticed she had on black lipstick and eyeliner. That one was named Sarah Palin (so I guess you can put lipstick on a pig). And her two sidekicks were named Michelle and Bachman. This year’s goat bucks are named Donald and Ted. Why? Because being male goats, it is all about them. Unlike people, they can’t help how they behave. They push all the does out of the way to eat first and pester them constantly to see if they are in the mood. Teddy also kept escaping his huge pasture to rejoin the does because he wanted to milk his mama before I could then he would just create a general ruckus in the goat yard being obnoxious. I put Ted in the freezer yesterday. Donald isn’t long for this world unless I can trade him for another buck. Sometimes my meat critters do get soft fuzzy names (one year it was all Harry Potter names, but my livestock is still my food even if some animals are harder to put in the freezer. Unlike my friends, I can’t walk by the meat department in the supermarket without feeling queasy because I know how most of those animals lived.

    Thanks for all your continued blogging. It is a continual source of inspiration and knowledge. I don’t get much time to respond but I try to catch up at least once a month on my reading. So happy to see your beautiful butcher facility open and running. My husband and I feel truly honored to have witnessed its growth when we picked up our piglets. Be well.

    • Stephanie Edwards says:

      Connie HI from California! Just wanted to say I feel EXACTLY as you so wonderfully put it in regard to raising your own livestock for food. Some people get it, some don’t. You nailed it in your explanation. When people seem confused about what we do on our homestead, I usually tell them “it’s my response to factory farming”. Thanks for sharing your comment and encouraging others.

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