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Posts Tagged ‘Chicken’

I had a grand post planned related to stockpiling and pantry stocking to make eating local and fresh easy and affordable, right up until my husband came into the house and shared with me and our daughter that one of our girlies had died in the night.  Of course my mind immediately went to weasel break-in, poison, disease, infection and for a split second I was certain he was going to tell me that we were on the verge of losing all 6 and our steady flow of eggs and I caught a glimpse of what farmers must go through when they fear that their entire livelihood could be at jeopardy.   On the contrary, however, he shared with us that he believes she was either smothered by her coop mates who all tried to huddle in a single box last night or suffered a heart attack or stroke.   Due to the extreme winds yesterday, she could have been literally scared to death.    Regardless of the cause, the other girlies appear to be fine thankfully.   Nonetheless, as someone new to livestock raising I had a twinge of sadness when I realized that one of ladies I had raised since she was a wee chick in my basement had been lost.  I also looked in my 4 year old daughter’s eyes as she processed the news that the chicken was not going to the doctor to get better and that she really was gone forever.   As we have always looked at these chickens as a food source both for eggs and for meat, our focus has always been to give them the best possible life and then a good clean death, so I decided that this despite the sadness of the moment, was an opportunity to help my child understand what was happening and what would eventually happen to all of the girlies one day.  Yes, I cannot tell a lie, this quickly became a bit of a Mufasa Circle of Life moment, but an important one nonetheless.   I have always felt strongly that whatever choice someone makes about the food they eat is there own.  Ours is to try and eat local humanely raised and slaughtered meat and locally grown produce.  We are far from perfect, but it’s what we strive for.    I hope that Amelia will grow up to make her own decisions about the food she eats, but while she is under our care, I want her to understand the food we eat and why now, and there is no better opportunity than the present to be honest about what his happening and what it means.  So, she stood there asking me why that girlie had to die.  She threw her arms around me and said that she loved that girlie and would miss feeding her grass and talking to her after school.   I felt the loss through the her preschooler eyes and it gave me pause to feel a new sense of grief myself.   So I told her it was ok to be sad and to miss that girlie, but that it was a part of life.  I told her to remember how much she loved giving that girlie grass and lettuce and how she should feel so good about giving her a good life.  I told her, that the important thing is not that girlie’s death but the life she had.   I told her we will always have animals we love and care for and that we will almost always have a point where we will need to say goodbye.   Sometimes, it will be like this, sad and unexpected and sometimes it will be part of the plan to say goodbye so that we might provide food for ourselves and others.   She was not very sure about the last part, but as she grows we can feel good that we were honest and gave her as much information as possible to make decisions for herself.   So tonight, as we put her to bed, she shared that she was still sad about the loss of a girlie, but that she was going to continue to love and care for the other 5 girlies.   She was still not clear on whether or not she wanted to eat chickens (keep in mind she hasn’t completely made the connection that her favorite dinner of chicken fries is the same as the girlies, but I am not going to push that light bulb right now), but she understood what it meant to give her animals a good life.  At the end of the day that’s all we can hope for as parents and a family wanting to raise our own animals for food.   So we keep calm, carry on and learn from our experiences with this group of girlies as we think about our plans for expansion in the future and teach our daughter the lessons and values we have surrounding our food sources.

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