Felipe and I left the US with 50,000 dollars, four suitcases and the dream of a self-sustainable life. In two years, though we had a house, 17 acres of land and no debt, we were flat broke, with only a small,(less than fifty dollars a week) finite stipend.
Though it had never been my plan to sell animals to market, our situation was dire, and Felipe determined he would raise pigs to make a living. He acquired a sow; I suggested he name her Empire, since she was to carry the weight of his endeavors. Once she birthed some daughters he bought a boar, Don Juan. That was three years ago, during these years Empire birthed and mothered five healthy litters of piglets, and DJ fathered hundreds.
Like all animals, pigs have a fertility prime. Past their prime, they have lower birth rate, more health issues, and low milk production. Sadly, signs of age are showing in our founding couple.
Putting a pig out to pasture is not possible. Their life expectancy is 15 years or more. They become wild very quickly. They require strong expensive fences and they’re destructive and dangerous.
And so it is time for us to let Empire and DJ go.
Of all the difficult painful things we have done here this is the hardest that we’ve had a choice in. I love these animals, and I am indebted to them. I won’t be here when they are slaughtered, in a way I’m glad, and in part I’m not, I wish I could be here for Felipe, though he is not as sentimental as I am, I know Empire’s death will be hard for him.
I have said my good-byes and cried more times than is fitting a farmer. Thank you Empire, thank you DJ, I will pray for your swift and fear-free deaths.
Good bye, my faithful ones.
Since my departure, Empire was sold to a family for a wedding feast, she left our home and died the same day. Felipe said he was relieved; she’d been suffering with a foot injury he couldn’t heal. Empire was free to roam her last 6 weeks with us, until she had to be housed to treat her foot. She spent most of her time bathing in the creek and foraging.