Junior FFA girl learns the hard truth about bacon

By Patty Hullett
For the Mirror

Midlothian third-grader Brook Blackwell learned a hard lesson a few days ago when attending her inaugural first meeting of the Junior FFA club.

This enthusiastic young girl had her early sights set on possibly raising a pig for her first project. She has an even bigger heart – especially when it comes to animals.

The Blackwell family: From left, 9-year-old Brook, daddy Justin Blackwell, who is the Heritage football and baseball coach, and mother Heather.

Brook, age 9 and a student at Dolores McClatchey Elementary School, had already pretty much decided that she wanted to show pigs as her agricultural project this year. She has been aching to join the FFA since she was a youngster.

Her mother, Heather Blackwell, shared on her Facebook page on Friday, Aug. 27, “Well, a total tragedy of a night, as my bacon-loving child has just discovered that bacon ‘supposedly’ comes from pigs – and that means that she now knows what happens to the pigs when the kids take their prized show animals to the livestock shows.”

Brook learns about Junior FFA - and the tears follow afterwards.

Heather continues, “Oh, my word. I didn’t know that she didn’t realize this important fact. She is not taking this well … I guess my girl didn’t know we eat animals in this house! So, when is Dad (Justin Blackwell) getting home?” she comments.

Brook finds out the hard truth about bacon.

Reality sinks in

The following are some of Brook’s responses when she had time to mull over the concept of raising and then butchering pigs for food:

* “Animals are a part of our community.”

* “I can’t believe people do that to them when we are supposed to treat animals like family!”

* “When I become President someday, I’m making it against the law to do this.”

Some of Heather’s Facebook friends tried to help the stressed-out mother with some useful parenting skills associated with the phenomenon of butchering pigs for food:

* Amanda Metcalf said, “Teach her about the Indians! How they respected the animals and were thankful that they were given as ‘gifts’ of food.”

* Neva Mentzel shared, “We went to a parent meeting for the FFA with our son when he was about the same age as Brook. I looked over at him and he was crying because they were explaining the selling and butchering – and that was the end of the FFA for him."

* Donna Lou Bird remarked, “I’m a major animal lover myself, but I learned a long time ago that animals are used in our food chain! Just have Brook’s dad have a conversation with her about her feelings. Poor baby!”

* Amanda Johnson-Snow confessed, “Awe….. My girls showed pigs in FFA. It’s that first one that is always the hardest.”

* Serena Hobbs said, “On another note, if Brook changes her mind and decides to still show pigs, Hereford Hogs of Texas are some friends of mine and their hogs are amazing with huge personalities.”

* Amber Wynne shared, “It never gets easier mama! But I do feel it teaches them so many life lessons."

* Terry Rhodes Watson Hackworth expressed, “Tell her that God made some animals to eat and that not all pigs are good. Pigs are animals that reproduce quickly and the herd must be thinned-out. Therefore, they were put on this earth as food for our bodies.”

A compassionate story

However, the sweetest comment of all was from Laci Rigsby Kirk:

“When I showed a lamb one year I was so happy she won 'Reserve Grand Champion,' but when they went to load her on the trailer I lost it. David from David’s Grocery Store had won the auction, but he gave her back to me when he saw me bawling my eyes out. He said, ‘Oh, my God. Look at those alligator tears. You can have your lamb back.’ And the most touching part was that he gave me the check anyway. What a compassionate man!”

After some time to further process the stark realization of the inevitable end of a hog’s life, Heather says that Brook has come up with, “I’m OK with this now. I’m just gonna buy the pig back myself so it won’t have to die.”

Heather continues, “But later, she now says that she will go find someone to buy the pig who has a farm and can keep it. We shall see how this works out. She really enjoys being at the FFA barn, and I know the program is so amazing and that it will be good for her. At this current time, she is leaning toward raising pigs or rabbits.”