I didn’t flinch

In my quest to understand real butchers — those that know how to take a live animal and turn it into edible parts — I have witnessed the slaughter of 16 Iowa hogs. Two of those I videotaped actually being shot with a .22-caliber rifle.

It is hard not to flinch, even when you expect the gunshot. But watching the video, I am surprised with my own ability to hold the camera steady through the shot and any kicking and blood splattering that might follow.

I have become increasingly comfortable being around the death of these animals. I can’t imagine how desensitized these men (and all of the butchers I’ve talked to and watched are men) become when they do this every day of the week.

Not that they seem to get any pleasure out of the death. Each butcher has told me he doesn’t particularly like his job. They don’t dislike it because they’re sick of killing, but because it’s a dirty, physically taxing job.