Or Kwanza, or Hannukah, or Winter Solstice – whatever the way we each interface with this time of year, it is a very special time of year with giving, darkness, introspection and rest. I grew up in the Christian tradition with Santa Claus, Christmas pageants, Christmas trees, presents and the whole 9 yards. Certainly, as a young person I was focused most intently on which presents I was getting. Later on, I became very honed in on making all of my presents for everyone, and I got a bit carried away with needing to be defined by my homemade gifts. At this age in life, I can struggle with spending too much money on gifts, more than I have in my budget.
Aside from the sometimes-immature feelings and actions that arise, I am grateful for the “excuse” to reach out a little further than is normal toward others, to see them more thoroughly and appreciate those who are close to me and also those who I happen to interact with more casually. I like the connection that comes with phone calls and visits, and the little kindnesses that spontaneously occur all around us as we soften our hearts and open ourselves more than might be habitually comfortable. I like the opening up of time on the farm that allows me to truly ponder our farming systems and consider how to align ourselves more comprehensively with nature. What a wonderful opportunity we are given at this time of year to practice moving forward with a new normal of valuable and meaningful relationships with not only people, but all of the natural world.
Subscriber Response to Hog Slaughter
I just want to respond to your email you wrote about your relationship with your pigs and thank you for being open and sharing this with us. I can relate and I have been learning some things by watching nature and indigenous cultures.
We deal with the impossibility of life that it takes a life to feed a life. I have been filming water over 7 winter seasons and will be finishing my 7th video on water this winter and then I want to write. I follow water as it goes through the winter season and each winter is uniquely different. Winter is when water comes into form, I call it the blossoming of water. We know water gives life and it does so in an incredible service to life as it invisibly flows through each one of us assisting us to come into our full divine nature and into flow.
Inevitably there is this moment when the temperatures drop enough that the water that flows through us expands as it comes into form and kills the very life it has been inhabiting, and water does so in an incredible eulogy, as it weaves its lacy crystals around every being it ever inhabited, creating an ethereal bloom of the after life. For a moment it makes whole again what it broke and I see this as an incredible act of love. Here is where the impossibility of life comes in, the native people when they plant a seed have a funeral of the seed as it takes the death of a seed to birth a sprout.
I had an insight a about 2 years ago when I was at my earth shrine and I could not relate to the embodiment of God but when I re-framed it and saw it as all of creation is an expression of the body of God, something clicked. My body is a mini version of the cosmos, where all the part have to work together. My heart is not more important than my lungs or the microbes in my gut. When one thing goes out of balance it creates a chain reaction. So, I also realized that therefor hierarchy is a creation of the mind. In the body of God all are equal.
I grow my garden, have a deep connection with all the plants and feel at times like failing Mother as the plants go through their ugly duckling stage, their puberty stage and I cannot protect them. I see them sprout growing through their challenges, loving them and then there comes this moment I am going to eat them. I have a hard time to take something that is so beautiful and killing them. My mom, when she was dying, she told my niece she wanted to eat her. My niece was shocked to hear that but my mom loved her so much then she would have her with her at all times. So, I begin to look differently at death. Could it be that when the predator catches its prey it be a moment of ecstasy, an act of love, the prey releases itself from its earthly existence and returns to the oneness. Life is all about transforming form. Is one of our biggest acts to consume what we love and to become one with it. I keep looking at how the earth designed itself in order to make soil, everything has to go through someone’s digestive system and designed it cleverly to make this an orgasmic flavorful rich experience that trigger all our senses.
What is lacking in our world to make it a sacred act, a holy communion. I have been involved in African spirituality and have been to Burkina Faso 3 times and animal offerings are very much part of their existence. The whole idea of slaughter does not feel right to me to just go up to the animal and take its life. It was never done that way in earth based cultures, it was always done with prayer and seen as an offering and a part of the animal was given back to the spirit world. I assisted in a lot of animal offerings and cleaned them, it connects me to life, to my ancestors and one day you know your life be an offering to something greater. Animals where offered for healing, for building homes, for blessing the land, to deal with a crisis. For me it is any taking of life needs to be an act of prayer. Interestingly I love to nibble as I go through my garden and it does harm to my body, to my gut, and my teeth so there is some wisdom in not just to go about it randomly.
Alas this culture does not support home offerings and the only option is a slaughter house but your love for them is real, the pain is real. Tell them you love them. If you can find out when they get slaughtered you could do a prayer for their gift of life and give of themselves to continue to support life and may their spirit move on to a new even happier incarnation. You gave them what they could. And maybe you are already doing that.
This is some of the stuff I want to write about and I wanted to share it with you. Particularly in a time when there is so much division around veganism and meat eaters and the whole judgment and confusion around food. And by the way I am interested in buying some of your beautiful hog being meat. Your connection to their life and your story is important so we know who these beautiful beings are we partake in. It is all about relationship with have with the living world around us.
Thank you Julie for keeping us connected to life! I am adding some pictures of what I call ‘my mythical garden’. Wishing you and Jacques a wonderful Solstice and the return of the light holidays,
Quite a treatise on an important topic! I like your reference to “hog being meat”. Your thoughts and pictures are beautiful. And I will be in touch with you after the pork comes back from the slaughterhouse to let you know what extra I might have for sale.
Winter blessings to you and Larry also. Julie
Hi Julie – Your pig tales brought back many memories. I raised pigs for years as did my family. My grandparents claimed they used every part of a pig except the squeal. Personally, I loved to see them come and I loved to see them go.
Be well. Thanks – Ed
Ah, Ed, always the practical one. Thanks for reaching out today. And Merry Christmas to you and Chris. Julie
Good morning Julie,
I love your pig story. It made me teary eyed but also laugh. I grew up on farms my whole life and many times we had pigs. It brought back both memories of when we were bad as kids we got the chore of cleaning out the pig pen. We would go in with just a bathing suit and squish our feet through the shit. There were many occasions when they would escape and all 7 children would chase them around, tackling them and herding them back to their pen. There’s also memories of riding them like horses. I always loved the pigs and had a hard time to see them go at slaughter time. Then there was the final year when my parents divorced and my father could no longer feed them so I slowly watched them die eating at each other. Since that time, I was unable to eat pig meat until I took the leap to try yours last year. And of course your pig meat is amazing. I can’t recall if I placed an order for any this year if you could let me know when you have a moment.
My best memory of pigs to date though is one of yours biting me this year. It continues to give Jackson and I lots of conversations and laughs.
Interestingly my Chinese sign is the pig just wondering how that all plays into my story of how I feel about pigs.
Thank you for listening. Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you and Jack and the rest of your family.
It is always quite something to hear your stories. I also remember pig chases growing up. My dad would always get mad and the pigs would get crazier. And my mom always knew to calm them down, stay behind them and just keep clapping and cheering them on. It almost always worked like a charm. Anyway, I can see you out there in your bathing suit cleaning out their pen! You did place an order – 2 sausage, 2 ground, 4 cs ribs, 2 bacon, 1 ham. Have a wonderful Christmas and I am so sorry that the pig did take a bit of a bite out of you during your visit! Love, Julie
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CSA Updates This Week
Join the 2023 Summer and Fall CSA Early – Last Call!
We will be raising prices for 2023 for both the summer and the fall share, but between now and December 31 you can pay 2022 prices. This provides savings for you and helps us hopefully squeak by with our break-even budget. Financial solvency for farmers is elusive at best. You can follow this link – https://mhof.net/csa-share-options/
Been thinking about joining our CSA but not yet made the commitment?
Reason number 7 for joining the 2023 CSA
Join the MHOF CSA and gain access to our farmers. You are welcome to come to the farm on any work day and follow us around and help out, ask questions and then take your share home.
Reason number 8 to join the MHOF CSA before December 31.
Join the MHOF CSA because we put a strong emphasis on fertility, our produce tastes better, smells better, keeps longer, and has more vibrant color than most produce. Each week, all of our crops receive a foliar application of minerals and biological stimulants and inoculants that fire up the photosynthesis engine in the plants.
Reason number 9 to join the MHOF CSA before December 31.
When you join the MHOF CSA, you are buying a product that comes with 40 years of experience on this plot of land. You are supporting farm viability and getting the benefit of 4 decades of farming experience.
Reason number 10 to join the MHOF CSA before December 31.
When you join the MHOF CSA you will become connected to the farming year, week after week, and learn vicariously all the details of what goes into producing high quality food. You will learn about seasonality and what it means to truly eat “in season.”
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Foundations of Ayurveda Program
Ayurveda, the Science of Life, is an ancient holistic health care system that is still the largest practiced in the world today. It approaches health on the understanding that we are unique individuals, it identifies the root cause of disease, and offers appropriate recommendations based on your specific needs and circumstances to bring back order to balance to the mind, body, and soul.
We invite you to join us for our affordable 8-week Foundations of Ayurveda program that will teach you the basic concepts and principles to living a healthy life for you. You will discover your unique constitution and the simple steps you can do to take control of your health and wellbeing. The program includes 16 educational hours on Ayurveda that may be done in person, virtually or watch the pre-recorded sessions at your convenience. You will receive one 60-minute health consultation with Jennifer Peck, an experienced Ayurveda Health Counselor, to discuss your set of circumstances. She will give you 1-3 personalized recommendations. Additionally, you will get 10 hours of pre-recorded Ayurveda Yoga practices that can be done anywhere and anytime. Learn more and register here: https://www.jenzenliving.com/challenge-page/702bd078-8707-484e-83b9-95777ca945ff
Join daughter Ellen’s 21 Day Food Based Winter Healing Cleanse
January 9th through 29th. Early Bird discounts good through December 31st, 2022
Special features for this Cleanse include:
Heal Your Gut from the Inside Out! There may not be a more important cutting edge in nutrition right now than the fascinating world of the Gut Microbiome. During this Cleanse you will learn brand new information specific to how we can heal, repair, rebalance, and best support our gut microbiome for the long term!
The reasons to focus in this are many. A few key ones are
- Improving Immunity
- Addressing Mental Health/Moods/Depression
- Optimizing Digestion
- Supporting Healthy Weight Loss
- and last but certainly not least, reducing Inflammation, which is the key factor behind every chronic illness, and which, for the vast majority of us, starts in the gut!
All Cleanse details here: https://ellenkittredge.com/cleanse.php
Working Shareholders Always Welcome
Yes, you can still add yourself to the MHOF workforce. Through February we are hosting working shareholders on M or F mornings with a modest pay check of 1 dozen eggs, a quart of frozen apple or pear sauce and greens from the hoop houses while they last.
Monday was one of those incredible days where we knocked off a lot of accomplishments. First, we dumped a full tote of leaves into the pig house to help them stay warm these last few days. Not a great idea to hold field raised pigs this late in the season, but such was our option with the slaughterhouse. Eight of us turned to the finishing up of the wood management for the season. With 5 of us on the splitter and three stacking the results, we were able to finally get all of our wood cut, split and stacked! Stu and Jonathan finished hanging the kayak and canoes and also the extension ladder. Then while some picked vegetables in the hoop houses, others took apart the remaining end of life chicken tractor.
Next up was shipping the pigs. Jonathan and I pulled the pig house out into the driveway next to the yellow house. First, however, we had to have a special house call from Dave to help us get the tractor started. Soon Rick Adams from Adams farm showed up and backed up to the pig house. The transition to the stock truck was super smooth, helped by Rick’s calm demeanor and just the right amount of nudging. Whew!
Thursday Jonathan and I cleaned up all of the pig yard, put the house away, the pails and water tubs and then Jonathan did his signature manicuring of the garden and south field with the tractor, following that with planting some rye. This will probably germinate in early spring and we are going to hope that it was a good idea to run the pigs in the vegetable areas at the end of the season.
Then I got sick, and cancelled work for Friday! Perhaps my body decided that now some enforced rest was in order after all the tricky jobs were completed.