By far last weekend was the best experience we’ve had in our New Year’s Resolution to only eat local, organic meat. We’ve been on this boat for many years as a couple, but kind of ‘made it official’ on January 1st. A way to mark it down and really figure out 1) how to do it and 2) how to tell people we’re doing it.
It’s been interesting for us and probably REALLY interesting for our hosts, since we’ve been staying with people since about September of last year. We’ve struggled to find balance between our convictions and obligations about food, while sitting at the hospitable (and delicious) tables of our hosts.
I think we did it better when we came to Ohio. We just went in search of a local, organic farm that we could purchase meat from, so Sean, Mom, Dad, and myself get to experience the joy of coming together around food that’s not only delicious, but also is good for our bodies. (Yes, I’m insinuating and down-right saying there’s some food – even meats, veggies, and fruits that are NOT good for our bodies because of the food’s story before it comes to us.)
Several weeks ago, Sean got on Local Harvest and started searching for a local farm where we could find some meat. We hit the jackpot! Lamppost Farms is located 3 or 4 miles from my parent’s home in New Waterford, so we gave a call, got the invitation to come out. We went. Steve ran out the farm house door and introduced himself. He also showed us around the pigs, cows, talked about the chickens across the road, shared their vision for their land, animals, and ministry. You should just access their site and read all about it for yourself OR just go visit for yourself. However they are all about intentional work; deep, meaningful relationship; and of course, delicious, healthy food.
After that first visit, we were hooked. This place was everything and more that we’ve hoped for in the endeavor to know where our food comes from and know the farmer who tends it. Sean has been heading over to Lamppost several times a week to hang out with Steve, chat, work on a project, milk a cow, and share conversation. We’ve stopped in several more times to buy more eggs – and dare I say the LARGEST eggs I’ve ever experienced. My family enjoyed some delicious chicken bratwurst a few weeks back. We broiled a 4lb chicken and the next night made a chicken casserole dish from the leftovers. Not to mention the thick chicken broth I created. All local. All organic. All grown by this delightful couple and their kids. And then we were invited.
It’s a whole weekend deal. The Pig Slaughter. This Friday we had 5 pigs to tackle. Each about 250-300 lbs. We gathered at the farm, with at least 30 other people (not counting the kids). We were walked through all parts of the kill, the bleeding out of the pig, the cleaning, skinning, disemboweling, cutting, butchering, saving, and wrapping. We made lard. I wrapped pork chops, and tenderloins. Shanks and hams and boston butts. But it really wasn’t about the pig. Sure, I, Nicole, who swore off pork several years prior because I just thought it was gross and tasted gross was elbow-deep into a pig, skinning it. And loving it. And I’d actually eat some of the pork. In fact I did. And it was good. And not gross. Rather delicious. So it wasn’t about the pig, but I did learn a ton and feel much more connected to the process of preparing food to eat.
The 1,000 lbs of packages pork was just a by-product of the weekend. It was about the time. The relationships. The conversations. Laughter. Kids running around. New friends. Old faces. Hugs. Exclamations of “How do I do this?” or “What can I do?” and “Where are you from?” resounded. It was the spirit of togetherness and community. And something inside of me just screamed “YES. YEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!” All weekend long. Yes this is what I need. Yes, there is something True, Real, and Alive here. Yes, we choose to enter in.
This is nothing new. My grandmother tells stories about such events. My parents recall their parents talking about pig slaughters, even attending one. It was a family affair. All the relatives got together to help because, let’s be honest, slaughtering a pig is a LOT of work! But the kids ran around. Conversations were had. Bladders we blown up into footballs. Scrapple was made from the scraps. Lard was rendered. Hugs were shared. People were family. Alive and present in each other’s lives. So this weekend was nothing new. We’re just continuing to care for Creation, live closely to the Creator, and the Created. And celebrate that we can. That we still hold the memories and knowledge and desire to stand close to other Created people and share the workload, so we can eat good, healthy food. And in the meantime, hear the stories.