You may remember I started this journey with thick rubber gloves, tongs and a package of Trader Joe's frozen chicken breast.
Well, we're not in Kansas any more Toto.
This spring we raised our own meat chickens. Fast growing things that required careful monitoring to ensure proper health. The garage flooded during some area wide flooding we had, and we panicked to get the little babes dry and to higher ground. We raised 30+ birds for ourselves and a few friends, marveled at how fast they grew and butchered then by 8 weeks.
Last month, Mr. Bee butchered our first goat. (Not to worry, it wasn't Lula Mae or anyone you know. Well not too well anyhow. :/)
Desi was one of Lula Mae's babies from our first kidding. She was always destined as meat or selling but we gave her a name and treated her like the others, nevertheless.
We also put one of the beautiful Pekins down. She suffered what my childhood best friend (turned Vet) surmises was a stroke common in older birds of this variety.
With the meat birds it's almost easy. "Meat" is even in their name! I've still never done the actual slaughter but it's easy to get detached. You see them and think "wow this will feed us for many months. I wonder if those runts will catch up in size." (In the process if the objectification of meat, it's easy to understand the objectification of women.)
With the goats, it's a little harder. You feel weird taking the life of an animal who trusts you, who you watched enter the world, who is cognizant of its status as prey in the natural world. You tell yourself that it's okay because she's not a pet, she never was a pet, even though that's not entirely true.
Then there is your pet. Someone you love deeply and powerfully. And it's so hard that you have the neighbors come over and take her life as part of a ceremony where you cry and they sing and you're pain feels so deep you'll never recover from it. Even though you will, and you do.
We didn't intend to lose this duck so we had to make do and navigate the best way to honor her. E It seemed best to pluck the soft down from her body and let her flesh stay whole. We composted her body and look forward to letting her continue to nourish our lives in another season. I took the down, and combined it with other down I'd saved to fill Baby Bee's special blanket I finished for his 1 year birthday gift.
I have to make sense of if all. If I'm going to eat meat, I have to come to terms with the fact that life is life whether I give it a name, call it my own or never distinguish it from its peers. It's all the same. It's my relationship to the animal in each of those scenarios is different.
These experiences have compelled us to examine our practices: is it better to take one life that provides for several? Or take more lives from animals that feel less "evolved"? And how do we get the most put of each life? What do we currently consider waste and how can we put it to use? Can we buy meat at this time from, say, a grocery store,-or do we need to "know" the animals before we consume them?
We've come a long ways on this journey but we are no where bear arrived. I'm curious to see where we end up in our thinking.