Monday, March 15, 2010

the whole hogget

This weekend I'll be attending a Greenhorns event in upstate New York called the Hogget Cook Off. It's the first of a two-day event that centers around basic butchering education, but the buck doesn't stop there. Every aspect of processing the animal will come into play. The fleece will be shorn and cleaned for spinning. The fat will be turned into soap. The hide will be tanned and the meat will be eaten. All of these sheep adventures will be presented to a hands-on audience of scrappy young farmers who will be attending the event. Some will have land, others will rent—a brave few will have just started entertaining the idea of a grass-fed career and are following their gut to Kinderhook Farm on the official first day of Spring. I'll be showing up as a young shepherd chomping at the bit to learn.

To some it may seem odd, or even revolting, to spend a day centered around an animal's death. But this Animal Welfare Approved event isn't about slaughter—it's about community. The pasture-raised lamb (a hogget is a sheep under a year old that has never been shorn) will be treated with the utmost respect and gratitude from the lot. The crowd will be current and future sustainable farmers, people who strongly desire to opt out of the illusion that meat comes from the land of Styrofoam trays and shrink wrap. These are people (like myself) who are hoping to raise meat on their own farms. The point being to be part of the solution that ends the demand for factory farm meat. More farmers raising free-range animals means less assembly line lamb chops. Events like this area a wake up call to a culture becoming more and more suspicious of industrial food.

I was talking to a friend in the office about this earlier this morning, and his response was pretty common. He said being a part of something like that would surely turn him into a vegetarian—just the thought turned his stomach. I can see his point, it won't be pretty, but it will be important. What may turn one man into a vegetarian is probably what's going to turn me into a meat eater again. I mean that in the most best way possible. I'm a vegetarian that will return to local carnivory only when I am assured the animals on my plate lived the best life possible, on my own farm or at the farms of friends. The Hogget Cook Off is a practice of that life choice. When it comes to my food, I want to look it in the face before I sit down to dinner. I want to know how it lived, see how it was treated, and make sure other animals are given the same dignity before their own demise. It takes all kinds to make this world turn on a slightly kinder rotation, some of us just have sharper teeth.

It's a celebration of the Vernal Equinox, but it's also a celebration of a lifestyle. If not the life the greenhorns have, then the life they desperately want. Whether the attendants live in Brooklyn or the farm next door they're coming to Kinderhook, yes, to learn how to cut up a sheep, but also to meet other people who want to spend their Saturday learning how to cut up a sheep. It's not exactly a check-off option on e-harmony.

I'll be going to learn about processing animals. I myself raise sheep and hope to start breeding lambs for the table next spring. I'm looking forward to the hands-on aspect of the work. But more so I'm looking forward to the conversations and company I'll keep for those hours. A chance to stand outside in the dead grass among people who share your love of rotational grazing and heirloom beef cattle is a recipe for a very specific kind of happiness. It proves that even among twenty-something's Networking doesn't always require a Facebook page meet up and a drink at a bar. For some of the feral ones, it just requires a dead sheep. I'll take it.

54 Comments:

Blogger erislaughs said...

I think part of the reason I initially liked this blog so much was because you were a vegetarian. For me the breach of trust involved in slaughtering domesticated animals (vs. a symbiotic relationship of 'I feed you, you supply me with fur/eggs/milk)I think is ethically unsupportable. Killing a sentient being for pleasure products doesnt really make sense to me. Im still going to follow this blog and everything, I just wont be as deeply involved, which will make very little difference to you!

You are still very inspiring.

E

March 16, 2010 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger The Grumpy Woodchuck said...

I grew up on a meat-producing farm. A small one, right here in New England. We raised meat sheep, ducks, fowl, rabbits, hogs. All for slaughter. Sometimes we did the slaughtering ourselves. The larger animals we put in a trailer and brought to a slaughterhouse. Where I saw animals being killed in a fashion that made me want to vomit.

And that's why I'm an ethical vegetarian today. I hated the killing part. H.A.T.E.D. it. I keep a small flock of sheep and a guard llama, but for fiber only and to keep the open land clear. I keep only open ewes and wethers. No breeding, no selling off the males for slaughter. Having been raised on a meat-producing farm, having to kill animals at the direction of my parents, and having taken animals I loved to the slaughterhouse, removed any desire to eat meat from my life, forever.

Obviously, your mileage will vary.

March 16, 2010 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

The argument goes both ways, though. A lot of vegetarians ignore the amount of animals killed for grains, rice, and soybeans. The animal populations ruined by deforestation to grow more food crops, and the animals ripped apart in combines in the fields, or poisoned by pesticides to make sure that soymilk makes it to market. Surely a vegetarian is opting out because they know the animals killed through these means are less direct, but I'm not sure the end result is better either way. Some times I think the only pure diet is a hunter gatherer...

I'm not one of those. I'm just a small farmer.

We live by eating living things, and some of us prefer plants and others will eat meat. it's a personal decision, this is mine.

This is a slippery slope, and I mean no disrespect to anyone about their eating practices. But this is my life, farm, and blog, and it contains my thoughts and practices.

I am simply sharing them.

March 16, 2010 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Candace Trew Camling said...

I think this is going to be a wonderful opportunity for you and I look forward to reading more about what you learned. I don't consider soap to be a "pleasure product" and I think if you are going to butcher an animal, you should use the whole thing, ie leather, fur, ect.
I live in an urban setting and it is difficult to always know where stuff comes from, but I am excited to start my own vegetable garden this year... starting small, I know.

March 16, 2010 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

Sounds like a good educational weekend. I hope you are able to get everything you can out of it. Were you thinking of butchering on your own, or taking to a facility? I think there is something to be said about using the whole animal and not just a few parts to eat. Makes it so they really didn't die to just feed you, but will also be able to cloth etc. for their sacrifice.

March 16, 2010 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

For the record, I have killed animals, gutted them, and attended the slaughter of others.

I'm also fine with a larger animal eating me. If that's how the cards play out. Everything with a heartbeat is something else's food.

And I don't plan on processing lambs on site, just poultry. At least for the next few years.

March 16, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

We're on our way to small farming and we will be nurturing our own meat supply. I just got a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions that you might be interested in reading, Jenna.

While I was a vegetarian for over 6 years (I'm not that old, people that's a good chunk of my life) based on ethical values, I have since gone back to my meat-eating roots after having kids (human ones). I've enjoyed seeing your thought progression on the subject and have benefitted from your research.

I wish I was close enough to go to the Cook Off.

March 16, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

Anyone who thinks that since they are a vegetarian no animals die to feed them has never walked a field after the harvester has been through. I won't get graphic, but it's not pretty. So basically, you can choose your method of slaughter, and I'll take mine as ethical as possible. To me that means local, grass-fed, and humanely slaughtered in the time-tested fashion, not per the dictates of the USDA or those who think no animals have died for them since they don't consume meat directly.

March 16, 2010 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

I hope you have a wonderful time and enjoy the company of like-minded folk. Although I'm well past my 20's, I'd go in a minute if it were closer! I'd love to learn about tanning and using sheep fat for soap. As a matter of fact, I love learning, period! I wonder if you will share the sheep fat soap recipe when you come back? I've made soap from veg oils, but that's all.

March 16, 2010 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Melissa E said...

I have really enjoyed following your blog. I am not vegetarian by any means but I choose to be a conscious consumer of meat. I also understand why many folks choose to be vegetarian. I think your decision to learn to slaughter your own animals for your consumption is awesome! If you choose to eat meat I think it is much better if you know where the animals come from and how they have lived their lives. I would have a hard time killing my own animals but definitely would prefer to eat something I raised sustainably and responsibly than purchase meat otherwise. We don't have the space for production animals at the moment, but one day I will be faced with this same decision, and feel that I would for sure be jumping on the same wagon as you! More power to you, Jenna!

March 16, 2010 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger BJ Gingles said...

There are so many arguments to support both sides of the vegetarian vs. carnivorous question. I do not look down or judge people for their choices either way. I do however expect people to be informed before making their choice. I used to eat meat like most people do... ignorant of where it came from and the conditions it was raised in. After finding out about the industrialized way in which my meat was being grown and processed, I became a vegetarian. But I do believe that to make an impact on the meat ecomomy, you have to vote with your dollars within it. If, as I did, you opt out of it altogether, you have little to no impact on it. I will in future opt back in, when and if I can know where my meat was raised and how it was processed (killed). I have been trying to find locally raised meat that has been ethically grown. Until I find that or grow my own (something I can't do on the miniscule bit of yard I have in the city)I will not support the industry by buying and eating meat.

I think Jenna is making a perfectly reasoned choice which to me, is the important thing. It has been carefully considered before being adopted. Good on ya girl.

March 16, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
OpenID ladysaphira said...

There are many reasons to be vegetarian and many reasons to eat meat locally. The people I don't understand are those (maybe like your co-worker?) who say they could never attend such an event, because it would turn them vegetarian. Do they think that just because they don't see the slaughter means it doesn't happen?

I believe if I'm going to eat meat I need to take responsibility for the death of another creature in order to feed myself. That means raising my own meat whenever possible and buying meat only from farms where I can see the animals out enjoying the fields. Good for you Jenna, I wish I were going!

March 16, 2010 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger kristen said...

I was a vegetarian for ten years (vegan for some of that time). I chose this because of both health and animal care reasons. When I had to go back to eating meat due to health reasons (this still baffles me, but there's plenty of evidence involved), I dedicated myself to producing my own meat and buying from folks I know. Butchering my first chicken was sad, but he had a great life, I thanked him for it before I killed him, and I did it in a way that was fast and calm.

Vegetarianism may be the higher road in some ways, but those of us who choose to eat meat with our eyes wide open, knowing and caring for the beings sacrificed for our tables, choose the next best thing.

March 16, 2010 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger CK said...

First off, congrats on the mortgage! I'm glad to hear of opportunities like the Cook Off, it means people are getting more serious and sensitive about daily life style descisions - and that's a good thing in my book. I was in a tiny village in Central Asia 8 years ago among a group of Kyrgyz sheperds. They slaughtered a sheep for us on a hillside and knew how to make the most of every inch of the animal. They had a deep respect for their animals and a much different relationship to their food than we have in the US. Enjoy your weekend and I can't wait to read about your collie herding your sheep in some day soon.

March 16, 2010 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

Jenna,
I just love reading your blog. You are a thoughtful and caring woman. I happen to know a lot of single farmers, I'd love to introduce you to. They just happen to live a distance from you.
I look forward to raising my children and animals (just like I was raised) on a farm someday.
Enjoy your weekend and share with us what you've learned when you return, please?
Debbie

March 16, 2010 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger erislaughs said...

Hey yall!
Just for the records, if you look at the numbers, the number of animals killed in harvesting is vastly smaller then are slaughtered for meat. That said, it wasnt my point. It is the slaughter of -domesticated- animals that wigs me out. A wild bunny in charge of it's own destiny getting accidentally killed is in no way ethically similar to slaughter. Neither is being eaten by another creature, unless it domesticated you, conditioned you to trust it, then gave you a bolt to the head and slit your throat.

I also have issues with how grains and vegetables are raised in a topsoil destroying monoculture and take steps to avoid eating those foods and politically mobilize around those issues.

Again, look at the numbers around deforestation for cattle vs. soybeans. Cattle wins, by A LOT.

I think an event like the one Jenna is going to is WAY BETTER than an industrial slaughterhouse nightmare, and I think it is really good that the process involve using every part of the animal. They are all still pleasure products because you can definitely make soap from vegetables.

I dont think anyone has claimed that our way of living (global north cultures, england, canada, america etc), even without eating meat, isnt sometimes violent. I dont think that is the issue.

The slippery slope is a logical fallacy, but Im honestly not trying to make Jenna/you feel defensive or cross, nor to disrespect her/you. I was responding to a blog I read. I was sharing my thoughts about her/your thoughts. I am constantly trying to figure out the best most ethical way to live so that I can be happy, so I struggle with this stuff, which is why I talk about it.

I am really inspired by this blog and Jenna/you (man that / is getting annoying!)and I think the lifestyle chosen and written about here is way more ethical, intelligent and informed than most people in our culture. I just have some questions.

E

March 16, 2010 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger ecogrrl said...

I would love your thoughts on the one issue I still struggle with. I'm a vegetarian that fully supports local humane meat production over factory farms, and yet I really don't think I could ever eat it myself: I'm still killing an animal at a very young age, well before it would probably die on its own. I particularly struggle with pigs, given their scientifically researched intelligence level. Somehow, even when the animal has lived a good life, taking it still feels very, very ambiguous to me -- even when I know that I would much rather have an animal die free range than in a factory farm. Have you found a way to reconcile that conflict? I'm genuinely curious and would be grateful for your opinion.

March 16, 2010 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger ecogrrl said...

(I should mention that we are still locavores -- we try to avoid industrialized vegetables, too.)

March 16, 2010 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger kristen said...

I was a vegetarian for ten years (vegan for some of that time). I chose this because of both health and animal care reasons. When I had to go back to eating meat due to health reasons (this still baffles me, but there's plenty of evidence involved), I dedicated myself to producing my own meat and buying from folks I know. Butchering my first chicken was sad, but he had a great life, I thanked him for it before I killed him, and I did it in a way that was fast and calm.

Vegetarianism may be the higher road in some ways, but those of us who choose to eat meat with our eyes wide open, knowing and caring for the beings sacrificed for our tables, choose the next best thing.

March 16, 2010 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger dosfishes said...

I applaud you your commitment to farming and the ethical treatment of animals. I think Joel Salatin from Polyface farms is correct, we all should have to slaughter an animal at least once to realize what gift that creature is giving us and why we need
to raise animals to have a natural life before they get to the dinner plate. We are so disconnected from our food sources and the creatures that companion with us on this journey.

Thank you for sharing the reality of the new farmer, small farmer, eating local and taking responsibility for what we eat and he we get it.

Corrine

March 16, 2010 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Shannan said...

Sounds like you will have a very educational weekend. I have always believed that if you are going to slaughter an animal you should make use of the entire thing not just the meat. Opportunities like this are great and there should be more of them. We just got our first chicks yesterday and while we are raising them for eggs right now there may come a time when we raise them for meat also. When that time comes I will know how to humanly end the birds life and be greatful to it for helping me to take care of my family. Congrats on the mortgage.

Shannan

March 16, 2010 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger E said...

If your friend couldn't partake in this type of event w/o becoming a vegetarian then perhaps it's time for him to stop letting some one else do his "dirty work" and become a vegetarian.

Kudos to you for doing it respectfully.

March 16, 2010 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...

When I grow attached to something on this farm...granted all I have at the moment are hens...my husband reminds me that this is a FARM. It's about life and death on a farm. The food we grow, and often livestock, are about sustenance and provision for the farmer and his family. Evidently in a year or so, when the hens quit laying, they will go into the pressure cookier and become a tender chicken soup. Not sure how I'll handle that at the moment...but I'm supposed to be a farmgirl, and so I'll do my best. I thank God for the opportunity to live on a little mountain in Oregon on a 58 acre tree farm.

Blessings,
Dianne
http://www.patacakebabies.com/wordpress

March 16, 2010 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Affi'enia said...

We feel very much like this in my household. We find that we are eating less and less meat because we want meat that when still baaing/mooing/oinking etc it saw sunshine, has grass under its walking gear and was as happy as we can make it. Vegetarians don't get away from the problems of factory meat as much as they used to as proven by the ecoli in Spinach I hear about recently. I applaud your celebration of the Vernal equinox!

March 16, 2010 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Robj98168 said...

@Erislaughs- Ohhh Sure Now all you Peta types come out...where the hell were y'all when I was making the argument for Chuck Klosterman's Life???

Jenna You learn what you need to learn... And save a lambchop for me!

March 16, 2010 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

If you are a vegetarian, you presumably eat eggs and dairy products. You are directly or indirectly responsible for a great deal of animal suffering and deaths if you buy your food from most sources.

When you eat eggs (particularly if they are not free range) the hens have a short life, and a nasty one. Even so-called free range hens are typically not allowed outside for more than brief periods. Once their most productive years are over they are disposed of, by which I mean incorporated into the food production system somehow.

The excess roosters (only a few are needed for reproduction) must be disposed of somehow as well. Either they are destroyed early on or they are eaten later.

The same principle applies to the dairy industry. The animals are worked hard for a relatively brief period of their most productive years and are then killed for food. The males are similarly extraneous. Very few would ever be used for breeding purposes.

Even if you have your own farm operation, the excess males are always a "problem" if you are a vegetarian. The practical and decent solution is to raise them humanely for food. It is not sensible to try to keep all the extra males as pets; the Earth cannot afford it even if one were willing. Females are sometimes also unsuitable for breeding and must be culled as well. Again, the Earth cannot support the misplaced empathy of keeping all these animals as pets.

Humans are naturally omnivores. We cannot live without animal products. This necessitates a certain amount of death. Everything that lives must die eventually. Suffering is what we should be working to eliminate.

March 16, 2010 at 6:27 PM  
OpenID thatsthelife said...

excellent post, and I look forward to the next one.

I think that any move heading back in the direction of symbiosis and sustainability is a smart one, and small scale sustainable farming is a huge part of that. I think that if watching a cow, hog or sheep's transformation from pasture to plate will turn you vegetarian, then by all means - go and watch! The worst thing we can do is live in denial; it allows us to move forward without taking responsibility for how we live.

Unless you're eating entirely local, you're really damned if you do, damned if you don't. Any industrial cash crop (soybeans) or factory farm has a negative impact on animal life and the environment.

What kills me is so many people protesting the annual seal hunt up north, yet they have nothing to say about commercial farms causing long term suffering, pollution, water contamination (e-coli etc.) All they see is young seals getting hackapicked (which is faster and more humane than methods used in factory slaughterhouses.)

What they don't see is that the seal hunt is sustainable and has been for hundreds of years - it's part of the solution, IMHO. Baby seals are almost as cute as young lambs - it would be very hard for me to send young sheep and cows off to slaughter (which is why I haven't eaten veal or lamb since I was a child.)

Fish farms get a horrible rap too, yet there are sustainable fish farms popping up on the west coast as well - low density, low environmental impact.

I don't think our society is at a point yet where we can live completely in balance with nature, but thanks to people like Jenna, we're on our way.

March 16, 2010 at 6:39 PM  
OpenID ruralaspirations said...

I am so with you. Eating meat is species-appropriate for humans and I don't believe a vegetarian diet is optimal (though I totally respect anyone's decision to be vegetarian; and I think meat should make up a very small part of an overall plant-weighted diet). However, I also believe that I have a responsiblity as a meat eater to know my food.

I do not buy conventional, commercial meat. I buy what I call "ethical meat", which means the animal led a good life, a natural life (doing what nature intended it to do, be that rooting, scratching, or grazing), and was fed a species-appropriate diet.

I applaud you for attending this weekend, and will be interested to hear all about it when you are back!

March 16, 2010 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger Dawn Dutton said...

Have fun Jenna and learn alot... Make new friends and eat some good food! I will be thinking of you.

March 16, 2010 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Erika said...

I might be attending. On their calendar it looks like it's just Sunday, so I'm a bit confused. It's only an hour from me so we may go. I was also a vegetarian for 10 years but now we eat local meat.

I want to get into spinning my own fiber (I have some roving and a drop spindle) so I'm really interested in the fiber part. Plus the soap. A friend of mine in Saratoga makes soap through a heritage process.

March 16, 2010 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

My husband and I were eating mostly as vegetarians, with occasional forays into meat eating, until we found out that his metabolism can't handle the plant families that make up amino acid combinations that replace meat. So no grains or legumes, (or sugars or starchy root vegetables) and no dairy either. Which leaves nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and meat.

We are slowly getting away from factory meat and eggs. This summer we get our freezer and a quarter of a grass-fed beef; next year I get my chickens. If I can off one of my chickens without freaking out, I'll probably order some broiler chicks. Maybe some rabbits too.

It seems to me that the humane thing to do is to do what you can to make sure your dinner had a good life and a humane and stress-free death, which is what we are trying to do. I don't think any animal should be subjected to suffering, which means that I should probably stop buying canned chicken and beef broth as well.

But to ask me to make a choice between my husband's health and an animal's health? Please.

I have a sister who is a vegan, and two more sisters who are vegetarian. I think that taking my meat's welfare while it's alive into my own hands is the least hypocritical thing I can do as a carnivore.

Jenna- I'm looking forward to your post about this experience, which I know you will do with sensitivity and eloquence. 'Til then, enjoy your class!

March 16, 2010 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger ~ Janis said...

KNOW YOUR FOOD. I was a strict vegetarian for 30 years until I seriously started raising grass fed beef about 11 years ago. I knew I would have to "taste test" my own product as well as my competitors in order to learn and improve. My small productive herd has the best life on 600, borrowed, pristine acres. And even though my freezer has never held meat in it, and I now consider myself an educated flexitarian, I am proud of the healthy products my cattle and I bring to other peoples table. Additionally, my herd is the first Animal Welfare Approved herd in this great state. Its been a journey. Learn, taste and photograph, all you can at the Hoggots Jenna. I also think you could do a better job than e harmony, right here on your own message boards.

March 16, 2010 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger erislaughs said...

@Robj98168 Hey! Im not a PETA type! Jeez!
Chuck seemed to be a death of necessity rather than commerce, which kind of changed the equation a bit for me. Which might not be logical.

Also for all the decrying of vegetarians/vegans for being unable to end all suffering everywhere and as such are hypocrites is just... really? seriously? like that?

Not having values or fronting sociopathy in order to be safe from the HORRORS of hypocrisy is terribly weak. Trying to live ethically or to a standard or code and coming up short is not shameful. It also isnt the point and is an ad hominem argument (another logical fallacy...)

I know humans are omnivorous, but actually our teeth are mostly designed for vegetables, thus the crazy long intestines too. Actually our teeth suggest we should be eating a lot more bugs. WHO WANTS SOME BUGS?! ITS NATURE! heheh

Anyway I hope Jenna doesnt think Im trolling, I just thought it was really cool she was a farming vegetarian and was bummed when she changed her mind. I think they way she farms and lives is still awesome and way more awesome than all the blindy blind faces swelling to enormous sizes by eating garbage all day and not owning dogs.

Ok Im done! I promise! Dont eat me! (I kid!)

March 17, 2010 at 12:39 AM  
Blogger John from Taos said...

What a fantastic opportunity to learn! I wish I could be there.

I understand about vegans, and more power to them. But this is not a moral issue, except perhaps for individuals. How do I know? The pig!

Yes, the pig.

If ever there was an animal that was created by the Good Lord above to be EATEN GRATEFULLY, it is the pig. You can't look at a pig and tell me it has any higher purpose or destiny than being turned into bacon, ham, and footballs. The Lord made pigs, and behold, they are gifted to be eaten. Few greater signs of divine love are to be found anywhere.

Vegetarianism is a choice, therefore, as no universal moral imperative exists. Lambs will be slaughtered and eaten, and it is best to know how to do this properly and with respect for the spirit of the creature that has given its life for you. That is all the bargain requires.

March 17, 2010 at 12:40 AM  
Blogger René said...

I'm in the "If I had to kill it I wouldn't eat it." camp. Actually, I'm in the "if I have to touch it raw I won't eat it" camp. My sister still teases me about how I can make certain dishes without actually touching meat. I have a high degree of respect for those who can do both. I think it's a much more honest way to live than eating tofu shaped like meat. I think what it comes down to is respect.

Part of that respect is allowing domesticated animals to fulfill their purpose. Like it or not, they are part of a codependent relationship. We have a responsibility to them because we took away their survival instincts so they could be food and we have to honor that purpose. They can't survive on their own without us and aren't going to survive as a species without a demand for the product.

One of the bigger sins of industrial farming is the loss of diversity of species. If small farmers raise heirloom breeds it preserves genetic diversity which is so vital to the survival of our food chain and ourselves as a species. The danger of world wide famine due to loss of crops and animals to pandemic disease is much greater than the danger of world wide famine due to a human population explosion.

March 17, 2010 at 1:59 AM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

For anyone who wants to attend an event as important as this, fasting for a day or two prior is a good way to get in touch with it. There is nothing like true hunger to help you make the clean connection between death and life and sustainability

March 17, 2010 at 6:35 AM  
Blogger mySavioReigns said...

Great post, Jenna. I find your sentiments on the subject of eating meat & vegetarians to be very common with the vegetarians I know...they just didn't know how to convey it as well as you have.

My wife and I are BIG meat-eaters, and unfortunately it's the store-bought kind that most organic-eaters despise. But, we've taken a big step in the right direction, and in May will be butchering our meat chickens, raised "free-range." It's something that hopefully once we've done, we can share the experience with others about.

Stephen

March 17, 2010 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Sense of Home said...

The meat we eat comes from our family's farm, our friend's farm or from our local hunting. We know both how the animals lived and how they died. We have no qualms about eating this meat. We have received beef, chicken, lamb, turkey and deer meat this way. Grocery store meat that comes from a large stockyard is another story.

March 17, 2010 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

This event sounds great! I wish I could take part.

A number of years ago I worked at a fabulous historical village (Conner Prairie in Fishers, IN) where they have a Pig Slaughtering Day in the fall- the public can show up and see a pig butchered and processed like they did it in the 1830s. I worked at that particular site and was grossed out by the training I had to go through. I enjoyed teaching folks how to make the sausage, but I refused to go to the actual pig slaughtering day. Now I'm regretting that missed opportunity of learning just because I'd grown up getting meat from styrofoam trays and couldn't face where my meat came from (and Conner Prairie did it much more humanely too!).

I'm a different person now and would love a chance to raise my own meat and to learn how to process and use all the parts. Then I would know how it was treated and what it ate and feel much more at peace about the roots of my food!

March 17, 2010 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

I like how this is a respectful discussion so far. :)

As for me, I treat all my animals as pets, even if they're going to be eaten. That way none of them were treated "better" or "worse" than the others, and they all had a good life - regardless if they die of natural causes, or end up on a plate.

It's just all around better to know what was going on in the life of your animal before it gave its life to sustain your own.

March 17, 2010 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger todlake said...

Jenna,

I have been reading your blog for some time now.

I admire your determination to achieve what you want. Many times in life, responsibilities get in the way with taking chances to achieve our goals.

You have the goals, the desire, and the drive to accomplish what you want in life.

Have you ever read this blog?
http://foodiefarmgirl.blogspot.com/

I thought you would enjoy reading it.

March 17, 2010 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger greenhorns said...

Hi jenna .

the event is sponsored by animal welfare approved! its a bit of a differet org than animal welfare institute.

please can you change it I wouldn't want to mis represent my sponsor.

so glad you can join us!

severine, greenhorns

March 17, 2010 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger plantfreak said...

Your weekend sounds great. I to only feel comfortable eating meat that I know how and where it was raised and killed. This keeps me from eating very much of it, but I make it count. What so many vegetarians don't realize is that many animals die for their giant fields of soy and corn to be harvested. By growing/raising your own food, or getting it from small producers, there is much less death! Insects, birds, rodents all die under giant combines. I admire you for following your dreams, this movement of people melding old ways with new technologies may not be for everyone, but with enough of us we will make a difference. This country's broken food system may not be able to be "fixed" but we can offer an alternative. Keep up the good work, I follow your blog daily and am so excited for the new farm. Leslie

March 17, 2010 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger 6512 and growing said...

Such thoughtful responses and an interesting discussion. My husband has been hunting for ten years. We've been very lucky to enjoy much local, wild meat. We butcher it ourselves, tan the hides, use the sinew and bones.
We also have chickens. "Culling" the flock is something we're looking at. I am very attached to my hens and have never killed an animal before. Philosophically it makes perfect sense to humanely kill our own chickens (who've had a great, free-ranging life)but emotionally I can't quite imagine. Being able to respectfully take my chickens lives is something I aspire to.

March 17, 2010 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

I think that event sounds awesome! I'd go to something like that, if there were such a thing here. To me one of the biggest shortcomings of the "back to farming" trend is that no one teaches you how to butcher. And it's really the kind of thing you're better off learning from someone who has done it. Either you get very lucky and have someone only slightly more experienced to teach you, or you learn on your own, which is psychologically hard, I think.

March 17, 2010 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Jena, I'm right with you. We are small-scale farmers and we took our first goats to slaughter today. It's bittersweet. I've known those goats for a year. I know that they were raised right, ate well on pasture and could roam. But I want to, as you say, look my food in the eye before I consume it. I'm completely jealous -- the event you're attending sounds like a fantastic learning experience. -jen

March 17, 2010 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

@Tara

It is very hard! If you aren't sure of yourself, mistakes happen. That's when it can be bad for both the animal and the butcher.

It's a much better learning experience if you have a mentor, so you can build yourself up to be able to accomplish such things.

As most people know, taking a life is hard. It should not be taken lightly.

March 17, 2010 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Robj98168 said...

@erislaughs I did not mean to offend you- I (still) get worked up about chuck. I felt his pain!

March 17, 2010 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

Speaking of sheep - I thought you'd appreciate this Jenna. It sure made me laugh a lot!
http://frontporchindiana.blogspot.com/2010/03/makeover-madness.html

March 17, 2010 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

Jenna - we raise and slaughter our own meat. we love it... its a great way to live. we dont do it for moral or ethical reasons - we do it because it makes sense. all of our animals are well treated, we know exactly what they eat, and where they come from. you will have a great time and will learn:
1. its not what you thought
2. its not horrible
3. its a great time of community
good luck and learn everything you can!

March 17, 2010 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger crowjoy said...

That sounds like a wonderful event, I hope it's as excellent an experience as it looks to be.

I commend you for the articulate way you explain your motivations and rationale for keeping animals, enjoying the gifts of animals and ultimately, eating them too. Raising and butchering our own meat exclusively for the last 2 years has taught me a lot, and I know exactly what you mean, but can rarely find the words to explain it. Good on ya!

March 18, 2010 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

hi Jenna- love your blog! I am starting an apprenticeship with sheep on monday, raising them for milk and making cheese. I think I will get some sheering experience come May as well. It is a big deal for me to see your thoughtful commentary on this subject. have fun at the hogget event!
patrick

March 18, 2010 at 7:36 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

I was writing my grocery list and preparing to shop just before I read this post. We are meat eaters so the list included chicken and eggs (organic, but not local or humanely-treated I'm sure). The farmers market is not conveniently located or easily affordable for me, but I knew they had local free-range chicken and eggs. So I rearranged my day and went there. Hassle - yes. Expensive - yes. Worth it - yes, yes, yes. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to make that adjustment. This blog rocks!

March 19, 2010 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

This sounds like a good, useful weekend. Raising at least some of your own meat can make accessing local meat much easier (logistically). And I truly believe that looking an animal you intend to eat in the eye, if only a time or two in your life, makes you a better, more responsible human. For those for whom this weekend would turn into vegetarians, perhaps vegetarianism is the better choice. To simply buy those cellophaned packages of meat from the grocery store for an entire lifetime is to support CAFOs and industrial slaughterhouses, and I'm quite sure if he saw that, he would definitely swear off meat.
Have a good time!

March 20, 2010 at 10:03 PM  

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