Calm and observant — My daughter pointed at the lifeless runt piglet. 

She then looks up at me to observe my reaction.

In an instant, those three words from our four-year old’s mouth evoked two immediate and conflicting emotions.

As a parent ~ I felt anxious.

The exposure to the fragility of life postures me to protect her. Inherently, I want to shield her from death. I only want life for my daughter. She is precious and I don’t want her to face the complexities of death at this time in her life.

“How can I fix this so she does not have to deal with death?!”

But as a farmer ~ I felt proud.

Her tone tells me that she sees his death and is not shaken. She is not rushed with an emotional response of fear, disgust, or flight. She witnesses his death as natural, a part of this life — not something to shy away from but to reflect on and synthesize through her lens of the world.

You see — Her remark to me isn’t so much about if her observation is correct. She knows he’s not sleeping. My daughter knows that life has left this animal.

She is looking to me to give her validation. She wants to know if her handling of the situation is correct. She is going to judge the appropriateness of her reaction based on my reaction and appraisal of her response.

And in that moment, my emotional conflict is settled. My internal battle is reasoned and my worldview is honed into one lens — The lens that I want to promote to my child.

And pride overwhelms me.

Those three simple words from my daughter forced me to synthesize an entire philosophy and internalize the principles that help me and my family grow.

  • It will provide a resilience in times of sorrow.
  • It will promote gratitude for life.
  • It will create resolve when faced with adversity.
  • It will cultivate healthy choices.
  • It will make way for pursuing hard work.
  • It will give courage for questioning the status-quo.

Death on our farm is part of raising animals. It is a natural, healthy occurrence and if you do not accept that, you will unwittingly find yourself on the slippery slope of compromise.

On the farm, when you try to mitigate naturally occurring death to “zero” — you must introduce industrialized solutions. 

  • Pharmaceuticals into their blood streams.
  • Hormones to make the animals stronger.
  • Equipment to control animal movements & prevent their behavior.
  • Genetically modified feeds.

All of these serve the business of farming, not the community. And each one of these “solutions” come with a price tag. Furthermore, when you buy into them, you cannot turn back. Once one of them is applied, the other is soon to follow, then another must be implemented to combat the next. And the cycle continues until you forfeit control of your farm to the hidden agendas.

These are the “solutions” that have brought death to the family farm, food systems, and ecology. 

Yes — These solutions appear to make farming easier. They cause you to lose less sleep. You don’t lay awake at night trying to sleuth out why this precious life was lost. You don’t have to create a philosophically sound solution to prevent accidental death. 

At WonderTree, we do not compromise. We work hard. We lose sleep. We mourn unnecessary loss AND we appreciate life.

We believe naturally occurring death makes our system healthier. It is a litmus of our system and curation of our meats. If an animal wasn’t fit to live a happy, clean, low-stress life on our farm in a place that allows the animal to express it’s natural “pig-ness,” “chicken-ness,” or “cow-ness,” then it wasn’t fit to be offered and it’s loss is appreciated.

We believe natural death on our farm gives life to the WonderTree community.  

Chris Jackson
April 8th, 2021

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