Saturday, August 3, 2013

Out of the Loop

Slowly, very slowly, my ankle and foot are healing up.  According to the doctor, it looks like everything is doing well and "looks great".  So, I am gamely hopping about the place on one leg and crutches, and enjoying visits from friends who pop in and help with things.  Everything from garden harvesting, to fetching groceries from the store, and animal chores requires help from someone else.  I'm not used to needing so much help, so it feels very odd to not do for myself, but overall, it isn't so bad to ask and be the recipient of so much kindness.  I am very lucky to live in this community!

But one thing has been bugging me.

Every summer, I've seen the raising of meat chickens through to the end of harvest day.  I've caught them as gently as possible, popped them into a crate, and driven them carefully in the early morning hours to the processing facility.  Once there, I've bid them a grateful good-bye and ensured that their end will be as quick and stress-free as possible.

Every time a batch of rabbits reaches harvest age and weight, its been my decision to butcher them.  Its been me who reaches in and carefully lifts them out of their cage.  Its been me who places them in the holding container and holds them steady and calm while carefully aiming my air rifle at the 'quick kill' spot.  It has always been my hands that care for them after death and prepare them for storage in the deep freeze.

Its not a cycle that is for everybody, and I am sure someone reading this post is horrified at the thought of killing creatures that I've cared for from infancy.  But it is the cycle that works on this little Farmlette, and its one that has been developed and perfected over the years.  It works for me, and it works for my animals.

This summer, it is different.  I can't drive, so I couldn't transport my chickens on processing day.  I had to trust someone else to round them up, catch them, and see them off to the harvesting process.  I can't stand reliably, or really get in or out of my house.  So, I can't go out to the rabbits and butcher the current ready batch myself.  I need to hire good friends to come and do the job for me.  I am certain they will do a fine, humane job of harvesting them, but it feels so strange to not do any of this.  I feel so disconnected, rather than relieved to have it be someone else's job.

It's not to say that I face "harvest day" with a sense of glee.  Its always a solemn kind of day, full of appreciation for all that my animals have given to me: companionship, entertainment, composted manure, and now, finally, food.  I hadn't realized how much seeing the cycle of life to its final end meant to me until now, when I'm not able to be an active participant in it.  It has left me feeling at a bit of a loss, off balance (no pun intended)...disconcerted, if you will.  What is most surprising to me is the depth of my feelings on the matter.  I hadn't expected it, not really.  I thought, once I had made the decision to give up this ending process to someone, I would be okay with it.  Funnily enough, I am really not okay.  Not okay at all, really.

I don't know if other people have felt this sensation of disconnection, or if it is just me.  It is hard to put into words what I am feeling, and a few years ago, I don't know if I would have even felt this way.   Maybe I would have?  Then again, I was new to this lifestyle, so maybe not.  I guess it really speaks to just how well my way of living works for me, down to the serious soul level of emotional well being.  When I can't be part of the growing, the living and dying cycle, of being a resident of my little world, I just don't feel quite like myself.

I miss it terribly.  As much as I am looking forward to standing with both feet on the ground, I think I am looking forward to getting back into the cycle of the Farmlette even more.


  1. What a beautiful article! I feel such a heaviness in my heart, understanding how you feel, without a chance to say good-bye and thank you, and close the circle. You've helped me to understand and appreciate the circle.

  2. I too found this an outstanding and moving essay. You conveyed beautifully the hard to explain feelings of responsibility towards the creatures we ultimately harvest and eat. As an omnivore I hunt and harvest deer, turkey and grouse with deep respect and profound appreciation. It's always hard to explain, or justify, why I do it, but I've yet to have to explain why I don't want to eat "factory" farmed food.
    I applaud you for raising, caring and respecting your critters and for wanting to see the process through.


Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment! All comments will be reviewed before posting. So, comment away--I look forward to reading your thoughts!