Monday, August 15, 2011

Dead as a - chicken?...

I've been overseas in the United States for a month on a leadership program focusing on "Protecting Natural Resources". I traveled from DC to Maine, to Montana and on to Hawaii. I'm sure there'll be plenty to say about that later. But to catch up on the Ka Pai life...

The day before i left for the U.S. i looked out the window to see the bloke holding my favourite chicken upside down by the feet. She had just died, and was still warm.  I'm not sure why she died, she was in the best condition of all three chickens, but the bloke reckoned that for the few days leading up to her death, she'd gone down the pecking order a bit, and the other two old girls had been picking on her.

Now I know I've thrust myself into this 'good life' stuff with great enthusiasm, and the bloke and I had been very realistic and pragmatic about our little 'farm' in the backyard. We made cavalier references to 'nature' and joked that with all the fresh herbs the chooks had been eating, it might be good to put one in the pot.

Yet, when I saw my favourite chicken hanging upside down, and felt her still-warm skin beneath her feathers, I lost it. Choked, teared up and sobbed like a child. I even spluttered out something like "But she was (sniff) my favourite one."  Who knew? I have spent enough time on farms, and enough time killing pests for DOC to know that sometimes animals cark it. I guess it was just that getting the chooks really added a new dimension to our backyard, a new way of looking at food, and importantly, it gave us our first tiny step towards our dream - to own our own farm one day.  And to be honest, she was my favourite one. She laid consistently, she had the brightest of feathers, and she had this very endearing habit of jumping up on your lap if you sat down in the backyard. The other two old girls could care less if I was around or not - as long as they got fed. 

I guess the moral of the story is that it turns out I'm not as 'tough' as I thought I was when it comes to my 'livestock'. Although... the weirdest moment was when the bloke and I were inspecting said dead chook, we looked at each other and asked the question "Shall we eat her?". Decided since we didn't know why or how she died, it was best not to - but I'm certainly not against eating them if that's the best use for them... (just glad chickens can't read since we have one bird no longer laying that will certainly be of more value in the pot).

What's your experience? Does it make you sad when your domestic poultry/livestock dies? Perhaps it's something you just get used to over time? Is it a bad thing to be sad for an animal that has provided you with nourishment and certainly entertainment? Perhaps remembering their worth is noble after all?

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