Frozen kisses on my fingertips. My hands were exposed for mere minutes, their entire bodies were bare the entire ride. Frozen, frostbitten.
Sorrow in the morning sunlight. Their last moments. I wish I could have saved them. At the very lease I was by their side.
This is why I do what I do.
"I'm right here with you." -Hannah
Their last moments are biographic; Caught in the middle of traffic. I carry them home in my heart.
She looked just terrified. Rightfully so. Wouldn't you be scared?
A pig communicates as soon as I approach the opening. It's as if she was calling out for help. I wish there was more I could have done.
All that's left after they kiss me goodbye. Sniffs, smells and sawdust. It is so hard to just let them go like that.
I've never heard screams like this before. As I stood with my mouth hanging open, my heart pierced by each shriek, I couldn't help but look around me to see who else could hear. At this moment the difference between hearing and listening became ever-more potent. To those surrounding myself and the pigs, their cries for help were nothing but background noise. Those sounds, for me, are some I will never forget.
Screaming at the top of their lungs. In that moment, the sound rested upon my ears only. Alone- there was nothing I could do. If there were hundreds of us, maybe thousands to hear their cries at that desperate time. I believe that there is something more we could have done to save them.
Resting her head, kissing her cheek. Together they spend their last moments, before suffering an outcome so bleak.
"There aren't enough OOOOOOs in the word Smooth to describe this trailer" he claims.
Has he himself ever taken a ride in one of his trucks I wonder? Would it be fit for his pets and family?
"Much better than standard trailers" he brags as you hear a pig scream. I call out "It isn't much better- Is it!" It was almost as if the pig shook his head "No!"
Heart-aching screams to sudden silence. A preview of the empty truck that will leave one hour later, after having left these souls at the slaughterhouse. It was as if a wave of calm passed over them- if even for a moment.
I ran alongside this truck approaching the intersection, reaching out my arm and calling out "I'm right here." The pigs kept my gaze as the truck turned the final corner.
The final truck I witnessed this morning was full of pigs screaming for freedom. I responded- "I hear you!" After a minute the pigs stopped screaming and the truck went almost completely silent. It was an extremely surreal moment to experience. It was almost as if a wave of peace wafted over us -just in that moment.
Sometimes I spend hours waiting outside the slaughterhouse to endure mere moments that pass by in the blink of an eye. Patiently waiting is the most surreal feeling in the world. Obviously I do not want the trucks carrying pigs to their slaughter to arrive. But if they are, I want to be there to document their suffering and expose it to the world.
Reaching out with a bloody snout. Both of us wish there were a way to get her out.
Red blood reprimands her perfectly pink nose.
I had never had my hand so far inside a pig's mouth. She placed all of my fingers and palm past her lips to rest on the bumpy roof of her mouth. I was startled when I felt not a single tooth- They are always so gentle but these pigs had all had their teeth trimmed/ground off shortly after birth. This is a standard industry practice I wasn't aware of until today- even after 3 years of experience and research. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...
One pig piled on top of the other offering solace as together they suffer.
The soft morning sunlight was shining down on both myself and the pigs. I can't erase their faces from my mind- not that I even want to. I just can't help myself from thinking over and over again that they didn't live to see this evenings sunset.
Honestly, it never gets easier. Some think I'm numb to the heart-ache, some wonder how I continue to do this. It has been over three years- each time feelings of never being able to do enough keep me coming back.
When you meet these animals for yourself; being present, even offering love and sympathy simply isn't enough.