For years now, Bill and I have discussed getting our own meat chickens. We wanted to know it all. What the process looked like, what our food ate, control their environment and make them feel safe and loved during their short life. We wanted to give ourselves to them and sacrifice our time to them since they very quickly give their lives in order for us to be sustained.
Well 10 weeks ago we got meat chickens chicks and yesterday was our first processing day. We learned the process of getting a chicken to alive and well to packaged and in the fridge. It was very educational and also emotional, as we raised these birds from two days old.
I will never forget how I felt taking a birds life to feed my family. It hit my soul in a unique way and I want to stay fresh to that pain. After I held the knife and looked at the bird and burst into tears. Our farm mentor said "I would be worried about you if you didn't feel emotions." I stood still for a few moments giving honor to the life given for me.
I really believe that everyone who eats meat should have to do this at least once because the relationship is not there for most people. If a chicken arrives on your plate or to the store you just do not get the same experience. Sure, you can care for animals, but to be a part of processing was wild and eye opening and a huge reminder that meat that we eat had a face and a life. While we know that subconsciously, actively participating changed me.
So where do I go from here? Do I only eat sustainably sourced meat? Do I take a moment to sincerely thank God for any meat I do consume? Do I work on educating people on why their meat sources matter for their health? Where do I spend my time and energy following this?
We are doing a second round of meat chickens in July so this will be at the forefront of my mind for awhile. Maybe that is the key. Continuing to remind myself and others of the reality that I experienced. I would love any thoughts on how to move forward. This all feels heavy and hard and good and necessary.