Tag Archives: pigs

…or if you want blood: Slaughterhouse slides 14-21

Slide 14: (slide 13 is missing, it just felt like pimping the pigs)

Slide 15: This is how you bleed a pig: you slit its throat the long way, and you let it hang over a plastic barrel or a trash can to catch all the blood.  This particular blood will not be saved to make blood sausage, broth, or anything else that people will eat.

Slide 16 a: When you hold a knife like this, it is doing work.

Slide 16 b: When you hold it like this, it is violent.

Slide 17: This pig is taking off a mask, and the mask is his own skin!  It even has eyehole cut-outs, just like THIS mask.

Slide 18: Do you ever feel like you’ve just been split in half?  This pig was truly just split in half.  And this is either the climax, the most revolting, or else the pig has made the sharp transition from animal-being-slaughtered to the more palatable MEAT.

Slide 19: Did you do dissections in biology class?  I don’t mean for the blood spots to be upsetting—please try to focus on the organs, on identifying and labeling them for a moment.

Slide 20: This picture is meant to be very straightforward and to-the-point.  This is the result of a day’s labor, almost completed, you can even see the squeegee in the background and know that this place is kept clean: that pigs come in and pigs go out, and the floor is rinsed and squeeged each time.

Slide 21: I hid in the cold storage room.  I didn’t know I was hiding at the time, but after a while I noticed how cold it was, that this wasn’t really the most logical place to be spending a long while, that it was strange to look to these halved cows for comfort, and stranger still to find it there.

The first photo of a truly naked animal, “Original Size”

Two days later, I am still eating meat.  I finished all but one bite of my steak and eggs (Niman Ranch) at Counter Cafe, but the final piece just stared at me, bloodier, like the outside of it was meat and the inside of it was animal.

While it was happening I was in it like a fascinated tourist, like a biology student on an awesome field trip: the first pig I just watched, from entrance to airgun to bleeding to feet off to skinning to eviscerating to halving to cold room.  The second pig got to “airgun” as the first pig got to “feet and skin”.  The second pig I captured with photos and videos like a proud aunt at a birth or a soccer game.  In retrospect, my behavior seems bizarre.  I spent some time in the cold storage room, and though I didn’t feel it yet, those pictures reveal that something had shifted–I can’t smile in them, whether out or respect for the cows next to me or because of the goat head installation art against the wall.

Or are they cows?  Cows would make much more sense, and would match the bodies hanging in the cold storage room.

So it has been two days and I have eaten meat several times (chicken enchiladas mole & fish tacos at guero’s in SOCO, that steak at counter cafe, chicken tortilla soup at Chuy’s) and I have not yet looked at any of the photos past the airgun at any size larger than the requisite thumbnail on an iphoto scroll-through.  Except for these.  The heads.

I’m not sure how to write about this, how to post these images, or how to tell the story, even how to document my own processing of the experience without sensationalizing the moment the bolt hits, the killing of the animals, without pimping them to get a reaction, because the airgun was not the climax, or at least it did not seem to be the climax until much later.  So for now, desensitization through hanging heads, and later, an actual engagement with the process.

Slaughter: Slides 8-12

Slide 8: In Austin, Texas I saw my first slaughter.

Slide 9: I didn’t know what to expect.

Slide 10: I put on a lab coat and hair net over my yellow dress.

Slide 11: I was on the inside looking out.

Slide 12: The slaughterhouse was beautiful.

Slaughter post-game report: part one

The truth is, the slaughter was beautiful.  yellow tile, bare rafters, simple, well-handled tools, a photo spread of a room laid out for working.

I promised Jo Sugar, my semi-permanent home in East Austin, to show her only the architecture first.  The images I need to close my eyes to (just in case) are these: