One of the most common things that people ask me about my decision to give up pig farming and transition to a veganic vegetable farm, especially because I continued to send pigs to slaughter for ten months after I made my decision to quit pig farming is, "Why didn't you, or why don't you start a pig (or farm animal) sanctuary?" It is an excellent question that deserves to be answered. After all, I was an excellent pig farmer. I know and understand every aspect of pigs (and other livestock animals, too, although to a lesser degree). I am able to take excellent care of them. I am quite sure that pigs and other livestock would thrive on a sanctuary here at In Line Farm. And, I as well as anyone know that the world needs more sanctuaries. So, what's the reason, why didn't I start one, or why aren't I starting one now?
Pigs, like many, if not most nonhuman animals, are almost unconditionally forgiving. No matter the abuse they suffer, no matter the deprivation, no matter the psychological horrors they are put through by thoroughly callous people with a profound disregard for the depth and intensity of their being, pigs, given ample physical and psychological space and time, will forgive humans completely. While it might be difficult for them to do so, and while there might be lasting psychological effects of their trauma, (almost) every pig will welcome humans back into the herd.
There are six pigs from the final herd on my farm living their lives out on sanctuaries: Gus and Roxy (Farm Sanctuary in NY), Audrey (nee Niblet) and Mario (Catskill Animal Sanctuary in NY), and Paul and Christine (Rooterville Sanctuary in FL).* I do not know whether any of them remember, or ever were aware, that I sent their herd mates to their deaths. What I have no doubt of is that they have forgiven me for whatever transgressions they might remember. When I go to visit them - and I will someday, when I have worked up the courage to bear the weight of the ghosts of the 2,000 all at once - they will amble, or run over to me enthusiastically to say hello, or perhaps, if feely lazy while lying down basking in the sun they will just look at me and offer a cool, casual, welcoming yawn, or a grunt or two. And that is because, unlike for we human animals, their pure state of universal goodness has not been buried, covered over, shrouded in the detritus of modern life; forgiveness is a ready and perfectly ordinary, unremarkable act for pigs.