Today I processed one of our roosters. “Processed” is a euphemism for: caught him, carried him to the kill cone, cut off his head, dunked him in scalding water, plucked the feathers off him, burned off the pin feathers, eviscerated (gutted) him, put him a freezer bag, and put him in the freezer. It’s not pretty and it’s not fun. In fact, it is the thing about farm life that I dislike the most. But it’s part of the process that puts healthy food on our table.
I get annoyed at folks who say things like, “I don’t know how you can eat an animal you raised. I could never do that.” I’ve heard that or something like it many, many times. Not consciously, but what the person is saying is that he or she is more sensitive or compassionate than I am. Of course not one of the people who has ever said something like that to me was a vegetarian. They all happily eat meat that they get from the supermarket, conveniently wrapped in plastic and looking unlike any formerly living creature, or processed beyond all recognition, wrapped in paper and served up at a fast food joint.
It is this disconnect between eater and animal that gives a blank check to industrial agriculture to be as cruel to animals as it likes, in the quest to maximize profits. The consumer wants no reminder that meat begins as an animal, and certainly doesn’t want to see the methods used by industrial agriculture to raise and slaughter these animals. Because the consumers don’t want to see that, industrial farms are free to do whatever they like to the animals. If consumers did look, many would become vegetarian.
So today I performed a necessary step in the process of creating meals for my family. The rooster that we will someday eat was raised naturally and humanely. He was hatched naturally here on our farm, and brooded by his mother. He ranged freely and ate a natural diet. He was never put in a battery cage. He didn’t have his beak cut off. He was never given growth hormones or antibiotics to stimulate growth. He crowed whenever he wanted to. He chased the hens around. He lived a natural, healthy, happy life.
And the process is perpetual.