Tucked away in a nice corner of Canada's smallest province exists a man with a cheerful laugh and some ham to huck.
That man—this kind-hearted pig-part-thrower—is one of the few doing social distancing right.
Ranald MacFarlane runs a pork and dairy farm in western P.E.I. He traditionally sells his pork products through his local farmers market. After the province enacted a state of emergency and shut down all non-essential businesses, he was left with a backlog of vacuum-sealed pork.
“I didn‘t know what I was gonna do with it, so I put it on Twitter that I have smoked hams and all that stuff,” MacFarlane told VICE. “I mean, it‘s all lovely stuff; it‘s all legal."
"People just shot me a message on Twitter or texted me and said, ‘I want those hams’ and I said 'fine.’”
But in a time of social distancing how do you get your wares to the people? How do you and your hams across the 6-foot chasm recommended by doctors everywhere? Well, MacFarlane took a hint from fast-food chains and started a backyard drive-through service. MacFarlane figured that restless people were driving around his part of the province anyway. So, the farmer filled up his big freezer on his back porch with the porch and, as long as you call ahead and pay, he’ll huck that pork right on through your window.
He fully admits making pigs fly takes a bit of practice.
“I have never been any good at sports. I suck at hockey,” said MacFarlane. “I have never been athletic but my aim is getting better and better. Vac-packed meat is really easy to throw, though.”
Different pork requires different throws—pork sausages, for example, need to be thrown like a newspaper, whereas you huck a ham like a shot put. If people want, they can get out of their car to catch the hunk of ham, sausage, pork chop, or what have you—but where is the fun in that?
MacFarlane, while a humorous fellow, is deadly serious about self-isolating and keeping distance between him and his customers. He and several members of his family suffer from ailments that could be exasperated by COVID-19. So while the pork-hucking is fun and light-hearted, there is a very serious reason driving it.
“I have to look out for my own family. I have a father-in-law who is 75, I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and my wife has asthma. In the event of the pandemic getting all of us, the only one left (will) be my 11-year-old.“
“If that happens, I wish him all the luck in the world.”
MacFarlane says he still has pigs around and his local slaughterhouse is a one-person operation—so they’re still open—and if people still want locally sourced pork he’ll continue to offer it as long as it’s “helpful and safe.” As for payment, MacFarlane would prefer an e-transfer but if that’s not possible, just take a page out of his book and huck your money at him.
"People are still willing to give me cash. That's fine. Roll it up, stuff it into a toilet paper roll, and throw it at me,” he said. “I just leave the cash and the TP on the back porch until hopefully the bacteria will be killed and we move on. It’s not like I can go out and spend it. So I’ll just accumulate a pile of toilet paper and cash until I'm desperate enough to use it one way or the other.”
Smart words from a smart man. If you’re ever wondering how to handle social distancing, just ask yourself “what would the ham-hucking, pig farmer do” and let Ranald’s wisdom guide you.
Keep your distance and huck the pork.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.