This was our third most popular blog from 2013. I pulled it out for our theme this month: Provide. We are having our Primitive Skills Weekend Retreat this October where we teach hunting and fishing skills. I wanted to revisit this idea.
...In my early twenties I became a vegetarian for about six years. I think I probably thought it made me more interesting or unique, and I recall reading a very disturbing book on large-scale animal processing. I think becoming a vegetarian appeals to world changers because it is a very concrete, personal way of impacting injustice. It is a personal protest that will ultimately have very little impact on large-scale practices, but at least it is something.
I am remembering my vegetarian days after receiving some outraged posts about our small scale animal processing workshop. “I am not ok with this !!!!” “This is so disturbing!”
It is curious how being more involved with animals has made me more at peace with eating and even processing them ourselves. When we got our first batch of chicks, all warm and fuzzy, I swore I would never be able to eat them no matter how old they got or when they stopped laying. It is true, we have never processed any bird from that batch, and thankfully, much crueler things in nature have taken care of our birds so we did not have to. I still have three of those lovely old ladies scratching around. They lay an egg here or there, but mostly I think of them as house-moms.
The longer I care for animals, the more at ease I become with the cycle of our little system. We take good care of them. There is no better life these creatures could have fallen upon. We respect them and enjoy them and give them quality lives. In turn, they nourish our family.
It is really quite beautiful, the interwoven circle of our lives. We begin life with animal waste and worms. Out of this mixture we grow soil, and in the soil we grow plants that feed our family and the animals we care for. The leftovers from our kitchen go directly back to the animals. Eventually, the animals come through the kitchen and back out into the compost piles to begin the process again.
I never would have predicted I would voluntarily learn to slaughter a pig or a chicken or a rabbit. But if I am going to eat meat I feel like the most respectful way is to do it intimately. Rather than compartmentalize a daily fact of life in my brain (I eat meat but don’t want to think about where it comes from), I choose to get my hands dirty to the core.
I want my children to learn this cycle. I want them to appreciate their food honestly. The compartmentalization is a symptom of a much larger issue. We like inexpensive clothes, but don’t want to hear about sweatshops. We love cheap gas, but are not willing to connect the dots to our foreign policy. We love our comfortable way of life, but cannot face the shoulders on which it precariously rests, or the inevitable repercussions for our comfort.
So as a non-hunter. A child who cried for Bambi, who grew up thinking guns were uncivilized, I am sending my boys out tomorrow morning to learn to hunt. They will begin with squirrels, and as is the rule in our house, “The only reason you kill a living thing is for protection or food,” I suppose we will eat them. Wish me luck on that recipe.