These two fawns have been hanging out at one of our gardens lately. Once I even found one of them sleeping in the garden. I assume it just hopped over the electrified net fence. It hadn’t eaten anything. It was just sleeping among things that a weaned deer would quickly eat up.
Newcomers to rural life are often shocked by the fact that they have to battle animals like deer and rabbits, which modern culture have transformed into Bambi and a cute bunny in a vest who lives in a Victorian cottage.
The sad fact is that the fawns who like to sleep in my garden will eagerly eat our sweet potatoes, peas and beans as soon as they are old enough to do so. They are dangerous to us. They compete with us for food. Already this year we lost our entire first planting of broccoli to deer, who later ate a lot of our black-eyed peas and sweet potatoes. And of course I eat venison. In fact, I’m seriously wrestling with the notion of making it the only meat I eat.
But having said all that, I can’t help but be a little taken aback when I see the fawns. They are cute. They are obviously twins and they are becoming so accustomed to my presence that they don’t run away immediately when I come to the garden. In other words, they are becoming tame. They’re starting to trust me.
I’m used to that. Most of the farm animals I kill and eat come to trust me first. They know that I feed and protect them. They have no reason to fear me. As I stand before them with a gun or knife in my hand, they come to me. They certainly don’t expect me to kill and eat them. I can’t help but think that anyone who doesn’t feel some pain from something like that is missing a bit of their soul.
As I have struggled with this, I have become a particular type of farmitarian. I won’t eat the flesh of any animal I didn’t kill personally. I do this to avoid participating in the cuelty and abuses of the CAFO/factory farm system, and because eating animals only when I kill them personally makes it impossible to be casually carnivorous and keeps me acutely mindful of what it means to eat meat and of the cost associated with that choice. I deeply hate killing animals and therefore I have a very, very deep appreciation of what it means to consume their bodies. For any meat-eater reading this, I challenge you to answer the question of whether you would eat meat if you had to first kill the animal personally. If not, why not?
As for the fawns who like sleeping around our garden, this Fall I will try to kill them and their parents. Maybe I should just kill them now. I don’t know. I just know that there are too many deer and that if we don’t fight back it will be impossible to grow vegetables here.
For now there is a circle of life, and it includes death.
I hate that.
I look forward to the day when there will be no more death.