I have not eaten nor prepared or cooked meat for over 20 years.
It's easy for me to be a vegetarian. I do not like to eat meat, I do not crave meat, I find it impossible to take responsibility for the end of a life so that I can eat meat and I think I am healthier and eat better without.On our organic farm we grow fruit, vegies and nuts and we have 1500 hens for eggs. Although we know that there is a great demand for organic meat in the market, raising a creature just to kill it in its prime for food is not something we have ever done nor are likely to do.
The oldest of our flocks of chickens are between three to five years old and waaaaaaaaaaaay beyond their laying peak and over the hill. Almost all commercial egg farms get rid of their chickens when they are 72 weeks old before their first moult. Being that a chicken only starts to lay her first eggs at around 16 weeks old, that's a bit like a teenager.
On our farm we pride ourselves on allowing our chickens to express their true nature. We let them do everything that is natural for chickens to do. They dust bathe, scratch for grubs, live with males/roosters, go to bed and wake up when the sun tells them to and we let them live long, long lives.
In return they lay eggs for us. And feed our soils with their manure. And scratch the earth and eat the grubs.
But recently we've been discussing the fact that some of us do eat meat and that we have a flock of certified organic free range chickens who we are feeding each day and who are well past their laying years.
And so we made a decision to harvest a few chickens to feed our three families.
At first I stayed away because I thought I'd be repulsed. But curiosity got the better of me and I slowly crept nearer and nearer.
And to be honest it moved me to proud, awe filled, emotional tears.
Those four farmers treated those chickens with such respect and kindness. As they collected each hen she was thanked for her eggs and her life and her body. It was all done very calmly and quietly.
I don't know if it was the fact that living on a farm with livestock, I have seen more than my fair share of dead stock and so I am desensitised. I don't know if having been witness to the aftermath of a fox raid a few years ago, this didn't seen anywhere near as graphic and horrific. Or maybe it was just the knowledge that these chickens have had the most wonderful lives. Right up until their last day.
It didn't disgust me as anticipated. Not at all.
And the compost will break down and heat up and be turned and will create new life.
A life cycle.
I feel like it makes sense.