Sunday, March 13, 2011

Making your own meat

In January I posted about our need to butcher a mean rooster and my inability to then eat it afterwards because of emotional barriers I didn't know how to get around. I had almost convinced myself that going back to vegetarianism was probably the better way. But to me* it wasn't taking responsibility for my food source, it was hiding from reality.

I won't lie to you and say that slaughtering animals is an easy thing.

It's not.

It shouldn't be.

But that initial experience has opened me up to the ability to butcher our own birds with -well, I wouldn't say detachment because that's the whole reason we're doing it ourselves- perhaps more understanding.

They are prey.

I am a predator.

I'm just smarter than other predators and take care of my prey. But they still have value beyond my dinnerplate. They are still Life in one of it's majestic forms. Even as I choose which bird's life will end, I still mourn for it and thank it for its sacrifice.

The dog that killed my bird for sport more than food has helped opened my eyes. If I don't eat it, something else will. It's what I choose to eat and how I care for it before hand that tips the scales, in my opinion, to what is responsible and what is not.

Yesterday we butchered two of our Red Broiler roosters. I was able to assist on the entire thing from start to finish, even capturing the live birds myself, and I did not waver. Other than the initial kill, the children were able to be present and asked questions. We thanked the birds aloud together for the food they provide us. I showed them the insides and labeled the parts for them as we took them out. Leeloo happily ate the heart and liver of one of the birds. We tried to make as much of the bird as we could with little waste and what we couldn't eat, we composted or left deep in the woods for the scavengers. Even the blood will be mixed with water to feed the fig trees.

My progression from only touching boneless, skinless white meat neatly packed in a styrofoam tray to grabbing a clucking rooster by the feet and an hour later vaccuum sealing boneless, skinless white meat in my kitchen has been a huge travel. But I know it's the right one, since I posted on our facebook wall the photo of the neatly wrapped package and have three people eager to purchase our homegrown chicken.

I'll have another post about the actual process, my experience with the different breeds, slaughtered weights and stuff in the next few days. I just wanted an initial post about how I feel about the process now since it's such a dramatic change from where I was at a few months ago.

*I stress that this is a personal choice. I do not look down on those that cannot or will not eat meat because of the fact of slaughter, that one life has to end to satisfy another, that is a different kind of sacrifice, but these are my feelings about the issue. I have been a vegetarian in the past, I don't feel for myself that is the right choice at this time.


  1. You and I share the same thoughts. We actually started slaughtering rabbits before chickens. I had the emotional barrier as well, but I forced myself past it. The animal was dead and it would be dishonorable if I didn't eat it now.

    I've made a vow to only eat what was raised humanely. No more supermarket meat. It has reduced the amount of meat we do eat but I feel a lot better about knowing where our meat comes from.

  2. I have the same emotional upset even though I've done it many times. Butchering, for me, is a spiritual and emotional effort. The boys wanted to butcher their first chicken. So we did the deed and it's in the soup pot as we speak. They were helpful and respectful. I was so pleased with their level of responsibility. We always say a special prayer at dinner for an animal from your own farm.