Why are we so uncomfortable with death? We often view death as horrible, a shame, gruesome, and even unnecessary, but I say it’s beautiful, especially when viewing death through the lens of love. To me, if I were to leave the slaughter of my animals to another, I feel I would be dishonoring them. How can we fully respect life without appreciating death? To turn your eyes away because it’s uncomfortable to watch.
Maybe it’s a matter of moral superiority? Those who have taken the high road of only viewing their food from a nice neat plastic package? But here’s the rub…
That nice neatly presented animal we call meat, or poultry (fill in the blank) had a life. But what kind of life? We don’t think about the lives we eat. We see them only as meat in a package. I can’t do that. Even if I were thought of as less than moral for taking the life of my animals. I find comfort in knowing that they lived a great life, and that they weren’t mistreated, abused, or made to live an unnatural life.
I love the fact that our animals were allowed to fly on top of the roof and dance fight up there. I love that they would come running to us looking for some sort of shiny treat to eat, or to show off their beautiful feathers. I love that they were there to bring joy and constant laughter when they would trip over their own feet, or fly over a fence but not know how to fly back over…walking back and forth on the other side, confused and bewildered as to why this keeps happening to them.
I love that I was able to listen to them call to each other and watch over one another. How can we honor them in life, but not in death? I have never understood that. Often people don’t know how to handle the fact that we actually slaughter our animals. Some like to use the word “cull” to spare others the unpleasant feeling that accompanies the death of an animal, but I say slaughter, because that’s what it is.
Slaughter has been used to describe angry horrific deaths at the hands of tyrants, despots, and other ruthless people. What’s the first image that pops into your head when you think of the word slaughter?
The slaughtering of our turkeys happened at the hands of a loving man, who was careful in how he handled them as he bound their feet, and even gentle as he tied the rope before killing them. He kept his hands on them as he made the fatal cuts, and remained calm thanking them as they lost consciousness.
Is there pain involved? Yes, and there are no animals that would willingly lay down their lives for us. None. They will all fight to the last breath. But how were they treated in those last moments are as important as how they lived each day of their lives.
How about after death? What then? Are they just meat? Not to me. Dom took great care in their deaths, and then comes the processing part. Every moment of the process of after death was done with care. It isn’t just in life that we care for them, but also in death. It’s important to me to know they are respectfully handled after life ends. As I prepare and dress them, I think often of the many times they made me laugh or smile. That’s what goes through my mind as I gut them. Sounds strange, right?
Simone wasn’t present when they were killed. I feel she is too young to witness that, but she was present to see them after death, during the plucking process, and she sat talking with me about how she wanted to see the heart. It was always about the heart. Each bird I opened, she’d come running in and say, “Where’s the heart? I need to see the heart!”
She was fascinated by all the insides of the bird. The veins, the head, the eyes, how the skin felt, what the heart felt like, why everything was attached to each other. And then came the ultimate question, which to me was precious and a very teachable moment: “Do we kill little children and people?” She asked. Her question was filled with such innocence and curiosity, and yet so profound for her to put together that life is fleeting and can be taken in an instant. I explained all different foods we eat and how they used to be animals, but that we don’t kill children and eat them, and we don’t kill other people and eat them. I also explained that while we do eat pork that comes from pigs, that we don’t eat our pets. She was quite relieved to know that we weren’t going to eat Waffles and Pinkie Pie. She’s always known that the turkeys, ducks, and chickens were not pets, but provide food for our customers, but it was the first time she’s seen a turkey go from a feathered bird that followed her around the property, to dinner for our customers as well as for us.
Four years ago we had a turkey we purchased from the store. We didn’t know that there were solutions injected into the meat of the turkey. One of those ingredients is more often than not, wheat gluten. Simone is highly allergic to gluten, and we fed her the turkey that was injected with this solution. She ate it, and got this dazed look on her face, as you can see in the photo to the right. We took this picture of her because she was acting so strange. Then she fell asleep…for 2 1/2 DAYS!
Since then we never purchased another turkey. This will be the first time eating a real turkey in years! I’m very thankful it’s one of ours.
Turkeys are elegant creatures, curious and filled with life and vigor. They are clumsy at times tripping over their own legs as they walk, and graceful as they run or show displays of affection towards one another.
They are awkward at flying, often banging into walls, or missing the roof of the house. When they were young and learning to fly, they would fly straight into our windows if they saw us in the house. They just wanted to be close.
Turkeys are excellent foragers, ridding the property of grasshoppers, and anything else that they can catch.
In death, they are beautiful, providing us with a rich source of food that nourishes the body, leaving us feeling satisfied and full.
I’m thankful for their elegant lives, and their beautiful deaths.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!