Sometimes I have to really work to remind myself that not everyone I know is interested in what I’m up to with my chickens. I find myself talking about them a little too much, like those parents who want to tell you about every poop their child has had that day… it’s not good for anyone. I guess I’m lucky that most of my friends and family are at least intrigued by my strange new “hobby,” but I doubt they were expecting regular lectures on the mating behavior of cockerels or the intricacies of poultry nutrition. And they definitely weren’t expecting sermons on the horrors of commercial poultry farming while they are eating dinner… especially chicken.
If you had asked me this time last year the likelihood of my killing a chicken, much less one I raised, I would have said that it was very slim. I was a vegetarian for several years and am a notorious softy. When I started eating meat again, I would only eat chicken or turkey. My running joke was that, if I were stranded on a deserted island, those were probably the only animals I could manage to kill to survive. I don’t think many people who knew me thought even that was a possibility. My decision to raise chickens, with the full expectation of some chicken dinners, has really shocked a lot of people. They didn’t think I’d be able to go through with it. But I did it. And I feel great for having accomplished a goal.
And, apparently, that has made me a tad snotty. My best friend is just as food conscious as I am- she worries about humane treatment of animals, she buys organic, she feeds high quality food to her pets- but she’s not quite up to taking the final step to being her own food provider. To be fair, she didn’t grow up on a farm and I did, so that makes me a LOT more likely to take the plunge.
When it came to slaughter day, I asked her to come out and be my moral support. I didn’t expect her to participate, but I assumed that she would jump at the chance to be there. When she declined to join me, I have to admit, I was a bit peeved. Here was her opportunity to put all our talk about food into action and she was turning it down. How could she stand to eat meat but not be willing to even watch the animal be killed?
And then I reminded myself that, had the tables been turned, I would have probably said the exact same thing. It wasn’t all that long ago that I couldn’t even begin to imagine what killing a chicken would be like. I have to slow down and remember that not everyone is rushing headlong into homesteading, especially my late 20something, city apartment dwelling peers. That doesn’t make me better or more evolved than them. But it sets me apart, and I think that is taking some adjusting to. I’ve always been the girl from the farm, not the girl who wanted to farm. I have to give them the chance to adjust to the new me.
And maybe, just maybe, I can convert a few of them along the way.