One morning last week I let the chickens out while it was still a little dark out, mainly because it has been overcast and rainy. I wondered out loud if it was too early, but I did it anyway because I wanted to get on with my day. There is a gap in the fence allowing the chickens access to the hill behind our house. While they are unprotected there, I let them out because there is so much fresh green grass there.
Not an hour later, I was walking through my house when a quick movement caught my eye. The chickens were freaking out and running back into my yard, which is never good, so I ran screaming out of the house. My son thoughtfully followed me and thrust a broom stick into my hands. I raced out, squeezed through a tiny door and out onto the hillside, but only in time to watch a coyote run off with Martha, my favorite hen, hanging from his mouth. It would have been ridiculous to chase a coyote across the hillside. I was barefoot and still in my robe, and even fully dressed I can't outrun anyone, let alone a hungry animal with four legs.
I will manfully admit that I cried. It was a rough morning for me.
Later that day, my daughter, almost 6, was commenting on how sad it was. My son, 8, who I would normally describe as the more sensitive of the two, said that it was sad, because we should have been the ones to eat Martha since she probably wasn't laying any eggs. I was privately horrified, so I explained that I considered Martha a friend and would never have eaten her. After all, friends don't eat friends! We discussed how we would never eat the cat, for example, because he is cute and fluffy- even though he doesn't lay eggs.
And then I got up to strain the chicken stock out of my slow cooker. I might have missed the irony, but this particular batch of frozen organic chicken necks happened to contain chicken heads as well. Watching the heads pour out into the strainer I felt like maybe I had been a little hard on my son. Maybe, just maybe, I'm the big fat judgmental hypocrite and my boy is the one being honest.
Looking back, isn't that one of the things I wanted him to learn? I wanted my children to understand that to live, we are forced to take life one way or another, and that we should do it respectfully. I wanted them to understand where their food comes from.
We live in a strange world where animals are petted and loved like humans. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with that, and obviously I do it myself. But animals aren't the same. Martha was a particularly wonderful chicken, (my BABY!!) but a few of the others give me dirty looks and I'm confident that if I was the smaller one, the chickens would eat me.
I think it might be too soon for me to make a bad joke about how that horrible coyote probably didn't even appreciate his organic, free-range meal.
Yes, definitely too soon. :'(
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!