Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Glad to be me, rather than her

Posted by on Sep 6, 2014 in Factory Farming, Pigs | 6 comments

“Wilbur didn’t want food, he wanted love” – E.B White, Charlotte’s Web

My 7 week mini sabbatical, courtesy of long service leave,  is sadly drawing to a close. This time tomorrow I will be back into the throngs of my normal, time poor and early rising working life. Nooooo !!!!

My time off went something like this :

It started on a somber note – coinciding with same day that so many people lost their lives when MH17 was shot out of the sky over the Ukraine. After this “life is fragile” jolt of a reminder, I went on to :

* Make 50 candles to sell to family and friends and raise money for Animals Asia’s project Peace by Piece as part of Honey Money Days.

Garp and my candles












* Watch a couple of brilliant movies (Still Life, Belle and Sebastian) and a couple of ho-hum ones (The Lunchbox and The Selfish Giant).

* Read some great books (Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty and, the standout, The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell.)

* Watch some gripping series (The Fall, True Detective and we’ve just started on the very creepy French series Le Revenants).

* Have some drool worthy successes in the kitchen – Best Friends Banana Carrot Cake (I used Chai seeds to replace the eggs – worked a treat), Hippie Crispy Treats (divine !) and these Oat and Macadamia Cookies.

* Temper above mentioned indulgences by making a pact with myself and my runkeeper app to walk 10km per day which, bar a day or 2, I managed. My ever present companion (Garp) and my hips/thighs are grateful. It is great to discover a form of exercise which does actually work, fitness wise, and I enjoy. So, here I am  – 450km of buttock firming striding later. Woo-hoo !

* Ride 45km on my bike in one sitting, complete with magpie attacks which made the whole episode quite thrilling / terrifying  ! This figure would be a lame one for a seasoned bike rider but I am a beginner so am a bit chuffed with such mileage. The location (Bright to Myrtleford, Victoria) along the rail trail made this conquest an enjoyable, scenic one.

* Find a new job ! It is within my current large government organisation but will be a different and way more meaningful role, at a new location with (eek) new people but I am ready (but wracked with nerves) for the change and new challenge.

* Live like a queen for 2 nights with my fella thanks to a great deal at the beautiful, Art Deco-y Hyatt in Canberra. Could almost feel Bob Hawke breathing down my neck when visiting Old Parliament House – the furnishings took me straight back to the 70’s / 80’s. Cycled most of the lake and lunched at my favourite Canberra eatery (Sweet Bones Bakery).

* Become another year older and gnarled. I am now on the brink of being in my “mid 40’s”…

* Attend 2 “significant age” birthday parties of friends. Forgot how fun having a boogy on the dance floor is (Sia, in particular, has been having a workout lately !!)

* Learn the perils of seemingly innocuous Essential Oils. Have small burn marks ALL over my skin as a result of my homemade body scrub and bath soak experiments. Please learn by my pain – use a carrier oil like coconut oil to mix with strong oils like Cinnamon Bark !

* Experience 2 blissful, serene days at Australia’s only Vegan B&B – Bed and Broccoli in Victoria. My stay is worthy of a whole blog post which is pending ! My carnivorous fella willingly ate the delicious plant based meals without grumbling. I learnt that I could easily do without the small amounts of animal products that I still do consume.


Me, feeding apples to the very gorgeous Frankie at Bed and Broccoli










* Rage at the short sighted and cruel decision by our judicial system in the return of a dog (CJ) to his abusive owner.

* Hang out with my fella for 7 nights at this incredible Stayz property in a wee village near the very beautiful Bright in Alpine Victoria. We felt like we were living in a vogue magazine for a week. Highly recommended !

* Have time to catch up with some of my oldest, treasured friends. Have made a pact with myself not to wait for the fleeting and scarce holiday times of the year to do this in the future.

* Clock up 2000 km on our road trip. Australia is beautiful – especially at the moment in it’s green Spring glory.

* Gaze on a billion stars in Bright around a fire pit…..


Stars, stars and more stars at Bright










My time away from the daily grind has left me feeling grateful and thankful for the freedom I have to do all these wonderful things.

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to experience such freedom and good times :

……..this is how the same 7 week period was spent by one of the 350,000 sows existing in one of Australia’s estimated 2000 intensive piggeries…………………………………..


Templemore Piggery, NSW, 2013











Like 95 % of sows, she lives exists in a “factory farm”. She is 3 years old and due to have her 4th litter of piglets soon. She has been imprisoned in a “sow stall” for the past 10 weeks. This stall is only slightly larger than her body. It allows her to take one small step forward and one small step back but that is all. She cannot turn around. Her joints aches from being immobilised for so long and from lying on the cold, hard floor as she has no bedding. She has pressure sores on her body from where her body is pressed up against the metal frame of the stall. She is often hungry – being fed only grain rather than the roughage she would eat if she was in a natural environment. She is smart and inquisitive (more so than a dog) but has nothing to do to occupy her days  leaving her feeling despondent and depressed. The light went out of her eyes a long time ago.

She has a urinary tract infection as she has no choice but to lie in her own waste and cannot always access clean, drinking water. Given a choice, she would find somewhere clean to rest and would use mud to keep herself cool. However, here she does not have a choice.

She has never seen the stars or felt the warm sun on her back. The inside of this loud, putrid smelling shed is all that she knows.

In a few days time, she will be moved to an even smaller cage known as a farrowing crate which allow for hardly any movement. She will remain here for 5 weeks. The people who put her here claim that it is for the safety of her babies so she does not crush them. However, in a natural environment she would make a huge nest from straw and grass to keep herself comfortable and her babies safe.

She gives birth to her babies in this cold and awful place. She cannot act out any of her maternal instincts as she cannot move. She helplessly watches on as her precious babies are roughly grabbed and have their tails, teeth, ears and testicles cut by the people who work here without pain relief. They scream in pain but she cannot do anything to help them. In a natural environment she would look after her babies for 3 months before they were weaned but in this place, they are typically taken from her at 3 weeks of age.

After her babies are taken, she is briefly placed with other sows in a small, barren area before attempts are made to impregnate her again. If successful, she will be returned to the sow stall for the miserable cycle to begin again. However, this time she does not get pregnant, her body is too tired – even at this young age. Her back is spray painted with letters to indicate that she is to be sent to slaughter.

She is herded onto a truck and taken to be slaughtered. The glimpse out of the truck slats is the first, and only, view of the outside world that she will ever see. At the abattoir, she is goaded with an electrical prod into a gas chamber. She clambers to escape as she can hear the screams of the pigs in front of her so she knows that something terrifying is going to happen to her. When she does reach the gas chamber, her final 30 seconds of life are spent in complete and utter panic, fighting for every breath. In Australia, it is common for CO2 to be used in high percentages (which results in a panic riddled suffocation) rather than the more “humane” Argon gas as CO2 is cheaper. This scathing report details how the typical Australian pig’s life ends in a slaughterhouse.

It is unfathomable that it is legal to treat animals like this in Australia. It is barbaric, cruel and unjustifiable but it remains this way as it is hidden out of mind, out of sight from the public eye.

Photos speak a thousand words. Please put your own discomfort aside and view these slideshows compiled by Australian Pig Farming : The Inside Story and Tamara Keneally from typical, stock standard piggeries around the country and make an educated, kind decision about whether or not this is an industry which you wish to support. 

Aren’t you glad that you are you rather than her ?

Further Reading

My previous posts about pigs here and here which give some practical shopping and lifestyle tips.

Confused about what constitutes free range / organic etc ? – this concise guide makes things clear.









Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Pia

    Thank you for linking this brilliant post on my linky Ing! So informative and I have just learned new (and horrifying) things about factory farming in Australia. The links at the end are fantastic resource to do more reading too.

    Good luck for the return to work after what sounds like such a beautiful and restful break. I’m off to read more of your awesome blog! Pia

    • Ing Reils

      Thanks Pia, it can be a hard line to draw – wanting to share and educate but not horrify people at the same time (and have them never return to my blog !) so I am so glad to hear it was helpful for you. Going back to work is going to be hard !! x

  2. Deb Baker

    The more I read about factory farming the more I despair at the human race. Why is everything in life for profit? Why do humans treat animals with such cruelty? It saddens me beyond words. On a happier note I’m glad you enjoyed your break and found time for the small, simple pleasures in life. Just having time to read a book is a joy. Good luck with the return to work Ing.

    • Tread Kindly

      Many thanks Deb. Factory farming fills me with despair – I am glad that as individuals we can make an informed choice but it does seem like a drop in the ocean sometimes. I am feeling refreshed after my break full of simple pleasures – ready to take on the world again ! x

  3. Viv

    I’m new on my bike too – totally will try out the Bright to Myrtleford trail. Sounds perfectly lovely. I’ve been on the lookout for longer rides which are scenic.

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