DAY 351: A CLOSE CALL AT PSYCHO FARM
A number of you have written comments about how awful the Spanish are at treating their pigs.
I want to make something clear.
I have nothing against Spain in particular (despite the bullfighting, galgo abuse, pig misery and dog chaining). This is a WORLD-WIDE issue. Many many other EU farms will be of the same quality if not worse and further afield they almost certainly are worse.
I am in Spain because it is easier to get access here than elsewhere. Please do not boycott Spain in your hearts or in actions. Boycott intensive farming and spread these images and blog to make the case for the better treatment of pigs – and all intensively farmed animals – worldwide.
But perhaps throw your Spanish salami out of the window.
RSPCA FREEDOM FOOD?
I want to draw your attention to an undercover video that has been sent to me that allegedly shows the reality of so called ‘FREEDOM FARM’ RSPCA assured farms.
Please decide for yourself.
I will be tackling the thorny issue of labeling later but in the meantime if you want to be sure your meat is not cruel it is worth knowing exactly what organic farm it came from or it might be easier to not eat pork at all. The body movement of some of these pigs in the video – with limp back legs – is exactly as I found some in Spanish pig farms
A close call at Psycho farm
I have visited some more farms undercover and also by direct entry. I won’t bore you with too many details other than to say I’ve seen some fairly regular welfare issues including dead piglets, pigs unable to stand up, a lot of bar biting (caused by stress and boredom) and a lot of pigs stuck in stalls with sores on their side where they are forced to lie down in the same position.
But the final farm I visited was not as I expected.
Late in the afternoon, and emboldened by a number of successful entries, I was confident I could get into a large farm high up on a hill overlooking a small town. Slightly delapitated and set against the lowering light it had the vaguely sinister air that Bate’s ‘mother’ from Psycho would have enjoyed.
We drove up the hill. I got out and peered over the wall.
To get inside without going through the main gate involved climbing over a huge old wall and going down a steep rough hill to join a number of metal steps that would leave me exposed in the cetnre of a large complex of buildings and a good distance from any exit.
Why did I assume no one was there?
I clambered over the wall and down the steep slope through long grass where I met some old metal steps. I felt I was in a video game, a first person shooter, moving through enemy territoty.
In the first shed I saw one pig was unable to use its back legs. It dragged itself through the shit and muck on its front legs whilst others repeatedly knocked it over.
For the sake of emotional clarity I have to say that this and the other few incidents I have described of injured pigs (the youngster with the bitten ear) are the ONLY times I have seen acute suffering. The rest of the time I am witnessing a empty existence – far more painful in the long term but without the peaks of intense misery.
I crossed the open courtyard and saw a pair of rubber boots sat by a door. A hose pipe snaked along the floor and round the boots and then into the open door. The water was running.
I paused, considering my options. If I went back up the steps I would be in direct view of the person that might be there. If I climbed over the main gate someone might see me. Foolishly, perhaps, I went into the next farm house. It was then that I heard the pre-arranged warning signal from Manuel
Panic. Total panic. A car was coming into the farm. The plan was to retrace my steps and then run into the woods but in the fear I went to the nearest wall by the main gate and jumped over. I have no idea if the man who belonged in those wellies was behind me but he would not have caught me at the speed I was going. However I ran directly to where the car was coming. But I was lucky. As I went over the wall the car turned round a small corner and drove down the other side of the farm.
I met Manuel in the car. ‘Let’s get out of here now’
A dark flower is unfurling
That evening I lay in bed looking at the small images on the back of my camera.
Throughout this year the more suffering I have seen the more engaged I have become. It has been empowering to look and then in a small way, act to help. When people say ‘isn’t it awful for you?’ I have to explain it is often, strangely, the opposite.
But now I feel something new.
The faces of the pigs have entered the darkness of my night …. So so many animals staring silently out of the confines of the pens and me so powerless to do anything. Am I feeling guilt for all the years of meat eating or is it something elese? Is it a weird sort of mourning? The pain is muffled inside me– it is not shock, not even anger, a sort of awful realization that this is something very sinister and on a very VERY big scale.
If you are kind enough to have read my blog from the start you will remember my rather hapless 24 hour walk around London looking for animals in distress.
I discovered little apart from a load of men in Epping forest looking for sex (I suppose also animals in need ), a few hedgehogs (not looking for sex, or maybe they were?) and also the truth of how hard it was to find – and touch – animal suffering on the surface of a city. I ended up outside London zoo at 5am trying to listen for animal roars but in the breaking dawn I was moved by the fact I could hear nothing.
All those captive animals but no noise.
Going inside these small dark farms in Spain has been like going into London zoo before the gates are officially open. I find myself in a place I should not be (and yet should be) and I am witnessing a world of human power over other animals that is without pretence or marketing.
And now I have also entered a dark place inside myself and have found something silent and compressed. A dark flower is unfurling in my heart and I am not sure if I want it to grow.