(Photo by Farmer Bee)
As I come upon the 1 year mark of raising chickens, the end of their egg laying coming nearer each day, I have been trying to shift my perception of them as pets to livestock and ultimately food.
This has been pretty difficult for me and I find myself making excuses as to why I can't eat "these chickens". "I've grown attached to them" being the most earnest excuse I can muster, but in addition to that, I've blathered on at times about how it's not exactly cost effective to slaughter a flock of four hens and how, if I could do it differently, I would have gotten all of the same breed so as to avoid anthropomorphizing them. This, in my mind, would have helped to make it easier for me to murder my pets.
I just recently ripped through Novella Carpenter's 'Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer' and I must admit that her sensitive though not at all sentimental account of raising and slaughtering the creatures she cared for from day old hatchlings helped to opened the door once again to the prospect of eventually eating my dear, sweet feathered friends. After all, that's what they are here for, no? If I can eat meat in a restaurant or buy it from someplace else I should be able to take my own hens lives. It's a matter of principle then, I suppose.
There are moments where I think to myself, "How could you kill the critters that you carried to a nearby preschool in a dog kennel? Those kids loved them and would be traumatized to learn that you killed the cute feathery things that they nearly pissed themselves with anticipation to meet!" But those moments will likely always be there. I expect that if-and-when I do decide to end my chickens lives I will feel horrible about it no matter how swiftly and painlessly they go. Hopefully that feeling will fade as they simmer and stew. As of yet, I still am unsure of whether or not I have the gall for it. Embarrassing, I know.
So, here's to hoping that my chickens stay healthy and happy so that I may get the opportunity to make that choice. In either case, I'm just doing the best I can to make sure they are loved and well fed. That's just going to have to be good enough for now.