Some of the pigs, those in the barn, where it is warmest, and the straw is the deepest, are only forty pounds. Others are 150 lbs. The biggest are over 300 lbs. The big pigs are so immune to the cold that when it is twenty degrees and sunny, they will dunk their heads in the water tank for fun as I fill it, trying to lap the water off their snouts as it drips off of them. Their various expressions of contentment, of happiness, are infectious. I never walk away or drive away on the tractor from taking care of a group of pigs without smiling, or often, even chuckling out loud.
Ten of those biggest pigs are going to die tomorrow, not at my hand, but at my request. Later this afternoon, while they are napping, I will trap them in their shelter with a series of panels. Then I will back the livestock trailer up to the panels and create a sort of chute into which I can herd the pigs and drive them up onto the trailer. Once they are on the trailer, I will drive those ten pigs, those ten happy pigs, to the slaughterhouse, where I will unload them into a holding pen. Because of the storm that is coming, I cannot drop them off tomorrow, which I would prefer. Instead, those happy pigs will have to spend the last night of their lives unhappy, in an unfamiliar, strange smelling, concrete floored holding pen before they are herded one by one into a chute where they will be quickly killed.