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I have eight containers of bacon curing in my fridge.

It starts on Friday afternoon. He’s home from work and we pile into the Dodge to get our pig. Hundreds of pounds of squeal and snot from our friend’s farm down the road. He’s been feeding nine of them all summer, and one of them is ours.

Their dog greets us, running beside the truck as we drive across the yard, and as soon as we stop, all the pigs gather at the fence. The boys stand and consult and finally pick one, and it’s a quick shot and a quick knife and a lot of blood, and the work of dragging and loading, and we’re back home again, racing the dark to get him hung in the tree and the belly emptied.

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It’s messy, sweaty work.

I’m in the kitchen, salt and sugar mixed for the bacon-making, and it’s only a few minutes until they start bringing it in, pork bellies, and I pack them into containers, cover them with cure, and load them into the fridge.

Alive one minute, food the next.

It’s dirty made clean. Life turned to food in a blink. Cutting, slicing, washing away blood. Death has a smell, and blood and fat are slippery, and it’s not supposed to be pretty. Is this art? I don’t know. It’s life and death, so maybe?

I could do the whole condescending “do you know where your food comes from?” thing. Truth is, we all know. We know it starts alive and suffers death and eventually ends up on the table. Someone kills it and cuts it and wraps it.

I don’t know, exactly, the lesson in this. I don’t know if it’s good to know your food first. To birth it and feed it, kill it and serve it. I do suspect there are lessons in there. Something about responsibility and sustainability and respect and reality. And maybe a little about plain old hard work.

On Friday we killed a pig. On Saturday we butchered him. On Sunday we sat down in Thanksgiving for good food, family, and this life we share.

It’s humbling, really.

Today I’m noticing good food, raised well and received with gratitude.

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