We celebrated the 4th of July with our daughter Sara, at her urban farm in Rancho Cordova, just outside of Sacramento. Earlier in the year for her birthday, we had bought Sara a pig, which she named Chili, in part to remind her what the animal’s ultimate fate would be. Here’s what Chili looked like awhile back:
Yesterday morning, a large crew from the farm, along with some much-welcomed guidance from a few friends (notably Mundo, who provided just the right amount of mentoring), slaughtered Chili and quickly processed the remains:
When Robin and I arrived in the early afternoon, most of the work had been done … Mundo and his son Ray were cutting the last parts into pieces for carnitas. Mundo brought a carnitas pot his mother had given him 25 years ago, and folks proceeded to cook up what became a delicious batch of one of my favorite dishes:
There were also chicharrones, loins … well, basically, everything. We were lucky to take home some leftover carnitas and a frozen loin.
Meanwhile, there was other fun going on. Sara’s farm is by a river:
A farmer’s work is never done, and so the sheep had to be corralled into their pen:
The deer get to play wherever they want:
Before the eating began, everyone formed a circle and Sara said a few words about her pig and all that had happened that day, thanking everyone who had helped with Chili over the months she was on the farm. Later, I talked to some of the farm folks who had been closely associated with Chili, and they marveled not only at how good the food was, but also at how amazing the process was, from morning kill to evening meal. They had great respect for Mundo’s expertise, felt they had learned something important, and also knew that what they had done was … well, Sara used the word “humane,” and I can’t think of a better word … what’s the animal equivalent of “humane”? I thought about how meat is usually processed in this country … the thing that really hit home for me is that as I stood where the food was being served, I could see where Chili had lived, maybe a hundred yards away. No wrapping it up, freezing it, transporting it across the country … it was ecological the way meat rarely is.
Honestly, I’m not one to get too emotional about my meat … Chili tasted good, that’s mostly what mattered to me. But it was also good to see what an impact she had on Sara and her friends and workmates. Even if I didn’t make a spiritual connection, I appreciated that connection existed for many, and I was glad to be there.
There was a carnival right next to the farm, and so just before 10:00 we got to watch some fireworks, which capped off a memorable 4th of July, especially since Sara and I have shared many fireworks nights at Giants games over the years: