Producing as much of our own food as possible is gratifying – and sometimes hard work. But, while watching babies grow up is fun and rewarding, the day comes when they are no longer babies. I process all of my own poultry. Is it easy to take a bird I watched hatch, and lovingly raised, and end its life? Certainly not. But I do it because I want their life – and their death – to be as beautiful and stress free as possible. They know me. They are relaxed around me. While walking them to the killing cone, I talk to them and I can feel them in my arms – relaxed and happy. What more can one ask, but that death be fast, almost painless, and that in one’s last moments, one feels happy and relaxed?
We have a few pets, but all the rest of our animals are destined for the table by way of the freezer or crockpot. Some people have problems with that. But, hell, to live well and die well and know that there was value in both the living and the dying? Isn’t that as much as any of us can hope for?
I’m not claiming I do my fowl or livestock any favors by killing them — clearly I don’t. The point is that while I do not enjoy the killing, neither does it distress me; my animals live better (warm, watered, protected, and fed) and die better (quickly and without suffering) than if they lived wild. The birds are free to fly or roam wherever they please. (Some turkeys choose to spend the night atop the sheep shelter roof. Some ducks spend the night on the pond.) The goats and sheep are fenced, but that is more to keep them safe from coyotes and cars than to restrain them. (Even when they are let out they stay close to home.) So to whatever extent they have the capacity to choose, my animals seem to prefer the life I give them to the more feral or wild existence they could have anytime they wish.
So….. slaughtering my animals is not a pleasant task, but I do it comfortable in the knowledge that the life I gave them was safe, spacious, warm, and well-fed and that the death I give them is quick, painless, and stress-free compared to the death by disease, injury, predation, exposure, or starvation suffered by their wild kin.