January 1st, 2009 â€“ Day 5 â€“ Viraâ€™s birthday
Itâ€™s Viraâ€™s birthday today. Apparently the food and drink habits are similar on birthdays to those on New Years, though I hope it doesnâ€™t go quite as late. The rest of my visit sounds like it will be pretty packed with adventures. Iâ€™ll save descriptions for future posts.
Viraâ€™s birthday was fun. It was pretty much the same as New Years. Table after Table after Table of food. At one point we played a birthday game. Each person went around and picked a slip of paper out of a hat. It described some sort of embarrassing something that youâ€™d have to do. Jess went first and had to prance around the room pretending to be a cat. Jess refused me the option of taking any pictures. I had to moo like a cow, loud enough to be heard by the neighbors. The grandmother had to dance to hip hop music. Vira had to kiss me on the cheek (actually, Andri picked that slip but I guess he didnâ€™t find me attractive enough so it was passed to Vira who was next in line). Volodimir had to crank call a neighbor. A girl named Tanya had to identify various foods by smell. It was entertaining.
The big news of the night was that Volodimir invited me to join him in killing one of the pigs on the 2nd. I was to report to Larissaâ€™s at 7am for the killing.
Ukraine Day 6.
January 2nd, 2009 â€“ Death of a Pig.
This morning I went over to Larissaâ€™s and watched Volodimir kill a pig. Visually it wasnâ€™t very disturbing, but aurally? Gad zooks. That pig let out a scream like none Iâ€™ve ever heard.
At 6:30am, I woke up and got ready. I dressed warmly, though not nearly enough. Jess stayed home; I walked to Larissaâ€™s. The sun had not yet risen and it was extremely peaceful outside. When I got to Larissaâ€™s I was promptly given a sweater to wear. Ha! Larissaâ€™s awesome. I waited in the living room as Volodimir sharpened his knife. After about 15 minutes or so, he appeared and beckoned me to follow him. Volodimir speaks about 4 words in English, and I speak about 4 words of Ukrainian â€“ so it was a unique experience interacting with him. I followed him to a womanâ€™s house about three or four houses away.
The woman was an older lady who looked extremely Ukrainian. She was a short and wore a green scarf wrapped tightly around her head. When Volodimir and I walked in she was busy peeling potatoes. After we (they) chatted for a few minutes we all got up and went outside.
It was freezing outside (around 15 F) and just in front of the door there was a large pen. The woman (Nadia) walked in and opened the door to a big brick shed. Out walked a BIG pig and a little pig. The woman threw some feed into a stone dish. Each of the pigs ate some and then the woman led the smaller of the pigs back into the shed and closed the door.
A second man showed up. He, Volodimir, and I stood outside of the pen. Volodimir motioned that I should stay where I was and gave Nadia a rope. She pulled one of the pigs legs up and put it inside the ropeâ€™s loop. She tightened it until it pulled at the pig. The pig squealed and resisted as best it could. Once the rope was fastened, Volodimir and the other man entered the pen.
The pig with rope leg leash.
The woman handed the rope â€˜leashâ€™ to the other man and left the pen. He pulled the rope hard and the hind legs of the pig were pulled out from underneath it. Volodimir grabbed a tuft of hair with on hand and pulled the pigâ€™s front lets with his other hand. The pig screamed and rolled into Volodimir so that itâ€™s chest was exposed. Volodimir grabbed his knife and promptly sunk it into the pigâ€™s chest.
Volodimir is kind of the go-to guy for pig killing. Apparently he kills about 20 pigs a year and has been doing it for 20 years. Thatâ€™s 400 pigs! His skill is evident from some pictures that Jess took of a previous pig. The picture was of the pigâ€™s heart which had a distinctive pierce mark in it. Yes, Volodimirâ€™s pretty good at what he does.
When Volodimir sank the blade into the pig it let out a horrifying scream and spasmed and bucked. The man held the rope tightly and Volodimir held the pigs front legs, until the pig slowed its motion to a stop. The death scene probably took a total of 2 minutes.
More about pigs tomorrow.