This week we got a package in the mail. It was one that we ordered. Did we really? Yes, indeed we did. I can't believe I ordered this thing on Amazon and actually shelled out the money for it. It's not that it was that expensive, it's just the nature of the item, more specifically, what it is used for. You see, we have intent. Our intent is to raise chickens for egg production, nitrogenous chicken poop, and down the line...for consumption after their laying life has waned.
But how does one reconcile intent with action? In this case, our intent to provide for ourselves and live a sustainable lifestyle runs smack up against a belief that all life is deserving of respect. In other words, I don't' think I am there yet...there being the act of using this killing cone. I know I know...we homo sapiens (puts us more on an animal level saying it that way) have been outfitted to eat meat: we have enzymes in our belly to digest it and teeth made to chew it. All useful underpinnings in my heady justification for my meat-eating ways. But to be so close to the harvest of meat has created some really heavy internal dialog. Taking the life of a little creature that I have named and have enjoyed watching run around my yard for two years...it's just not something that I have been prepared for.
Several weeks ago, we had to take the life of one of our chickens that was sick and didn't get better after more than a month of trying. Trying translates into moving her indoors and having her share our house with us, forcing medicated water down her throat three times a day, holding and talking to her and having her become really comfortable as a lap chicken, rejoicing in signs that she was feeling better (like having the gumption to run away from us after we gave her a few hours of unfettered access to pasture), then saddened by the stark realization that she wasn't going to recover fully. We chopped her head off. Well, we is the proverbial sense, I was at work and got the moribund text just before and just after the difficult deed. Are we really gonna do this when our ladies are fit and happy?
Damn, nobody warned us about the other side of this equation. Even all the justification that I've heard from others haven't made this feel right. Like, for instance, the fact that our chickens are one of the most spoiled beings on the planet and in fact run our dogs out of the yard on occasion. The have a huge yard, all the food and cool clean water and, as Michael Pollan would put it, the opportunity to life out their full chicken-ness. I think it's easier to hunt and kill an animal that didn't exist side-by-side with you for several years. And to think that I scoffed at the craigslist add looking for a home for hens whose best laying days were behind them...a "no-kill" home, that is.
Vegetarianism is looking better and better.