Monday, August 15, 2011
I own 8 chickens. Various breeds. All hens. It sounds like a lot, but they have enough space even on my little urban farm. And as you can see from above, when it's 100+ they really love the insect-ruined cantaloupe. They dig the water hose. Tiny avian toddlers playing in the sprinklers.
As for me, I like eating eggs. And eating chicken meat that has been humanely and responsibly raised.
I don't slaughter the hens often, since we keep them principally for their eggs. So when we do eat one, it's an important meal that I take very seriously.
Shooting and cleaning a dove or a duck I plucked from the sky, or cleaning a fish I reeled in minutes earlier has a profound effect on me. I can't deny that these wild creatures flying past me or swimming beneath me were probably just looking for food or shelter. Just like I search out food and shelter every day. Well, I personally and violently ended their search for shelter, and they became my food.
I love my hens. As much as you love your dog or cat. They all get names. They all have distinct personalities. I feed and water them each day. I give them treats. And they live for years, just like more common pets.
Even though I love them, it's hard for me to reconcile my relationship with my flock. Hens who depend on me for survival and respond to my calls and routines.
Tomorrow morning I will lovingly hold a trusting chicken in my arms as it eats from my hand. And the hen will be thankful. As will I.
The vexing thing for me is knowing that deep down, I have every intention of killing it someday. Knowing for sure, the last time those trustworthy hands pick her up won't be for feeding.