Sunday, December 18, 2011

parts of a cow

Yesterday I posted a photo of two steer feet, muddy and bloody, in the snow-sprinkled grass. I shared the photo because I wanted to convey the raw reality of harvesting livestock for the table without showing the whole steer half skinned, hoisted on a giant tripod, with a near decapitated head covered in blood. The feet seemed to get my point across without being sensational.

I was mistaken. Emails, comments, and complaints came streaming in. I removed the post because so many people were offended, and offending people is not something I wish to do before the Holidays, or any time of year. What shocked me about the upset parties was that only one of them was a vegetarian. The others were people who happily eat meat but felt showing the feet of the steer was gratuitous, and using the word harvest was dishonest or elitist. Some thought I sounded cold and naive. Others were just grossed out.

Here's the thing. If I posted a picture of a perfectly cut raw steak on a plate, I assure you I would not get a single complaint. That raw part of a dead animal, because we are used to seeing it, is acceptable. Yet it is carcass, a once-moving sinew, the insides of a beast, a far more gory and intimate display than anything I shared here yesterday. The feet were two black hooves on the grass of a small family farm, with mud and exposed bone, gently being covered with snow. I wrote how my life with animals had changed, and that the experience of seeing those feet was just like the experience of seeing a filing cabinet in my office. They are a part of the process, objects that should not effect how you go about the work of your day. And so people assumed I cared about the death of the animal as much as I care about filing cabinets. That was both insulting and the exact opposite of everything this blog is about. Why is seeing backyard livestock slaughter as a part of my everyday life offensive?

If you think my acceptance of livestock death means I don't care about animal welfare, conscious eating, and invoke deep gratitude for the lives lost to sustain my own than I have done a horrible job of sharing my heart.

P.S. I put it back up...


Blogger sheila said...

nah... people are just hypocritical aholes. Sorry, grew up on a farm. Farmers love their animals and butchering is never a fun event, but a necessity or farms would cease to exist. Even vegetable farms need fertilizer and the organic ones often get that from animal sources. I'm sorry I didn't get to see the post you took down.

December 18, 2011 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger sheryl said...

I think it was a brave and compassionate post. I think you have done a fine, fine job of conveying your personal journey around meat eating and the use of animals and I think some people will always lash out rather than examine their own conflicted feelings. Don't regret. xoxo

December 18, 2011 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

Maybe those were new readers because over the past year I've been reading, your heart, your committment and the respect you have for each animal, large or small, is oozing from your writing. I appreciate the small ways you push me as I move from dream to reality. Missed the post but I'm pretty sure it was respectful and meaningful. Thanks Jenna.

December 18, 2011 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Marci said...

I can't believe that people were offended..... Have they never been to a butcher shop or even the meat aisle in a store. They sell all sorts of pieces and parts. That is a sad show of the reality how people today are totally separated from their food and where it comes from.

December 18, 2011 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger Marci said...

The other thought I just had was why would they read your blog regularly to see it if they don't want to see pictures like that. A big part of your life is raising your own food and I am sure you are not eating it while still alive. I would assume someone who follows your blog would be interested in photos like that and also showing the whole butchering process.

December 18, 2011 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger kbrow said...

I'm stunned. I thought the photo and what you wrote were evocative of what goes on around a farm, and when we eat meat without acknowledging that a living creature died for that steak on the plate, then we further our disconnection from everything; the natural world and each other. Arrrrrrgh, people, people, people...keep doing what you do, Jenna, not just for yourself and your barnheart, but for us all.

December 18, 2011 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Gail said...

I for one was not offended, I thought the piece meaningful and respectful. City girl that I am I have never seen a butchering but it seems to me that it would be more humane to do it at home than at a slaughterhouse (where most of our meat is butchered-apologies to Temple Grandin who has certainly made that process more humane.) I've read you blog for close to two years now and you have made it abundantly clear how much you care for the animals in your care.

December 18, 2011 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Karen Fulford said...

Can't say it any better than Sheila did... hypocritical aholes.

December 18, 2011 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Colleen said...

Those people are hypocrites. Meat does not originate neatly shrink-wrapped in the supermarket. If we're eating mindfully, it means understanding, REALLY, where our food comes from. If we're eating meat, it means bloody animal hoofs somewhere along the line. Remaining willfully ignorant to that fact under the guise of "it's offensive" is what is offensive to me, personally.

I saw the post before you took it down. My first instinct was to click away (I am a wimp when it comes to blood, period.) But I made myself look, and read. And I appreciated the food on my plate even more. That's what your blog does for people, Jenna. Don't let the naysaying hypocrites get you down.

December 18, 2011 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I would not have removed that post, personally. I thought it was fine.

December 18, 2011 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Colleen said...

That should have read "animal hooves." Not enough coffee yet today. Sigh.

December 18, 2011 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger kristen said...

I'm sorry folks were offended and you felt the need to take it down. I thought it was well done, and understood your point. Know that many readers do understand your heart. :)

December 18, 2011 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Zoe Tilley Poster said...

Here's one more voice in support of the honorable, respectful example you set for those of us interested in taking responsibility for our food and the welfare of the animals who help to feed us...

December 18, 2011 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

I have a much harder time with seeing a livestock truck loaded with cattle on its way to the slaughter house than with the scene you described from yesterday. Anyone who was offended should never eat another piece of animal flesh. That steer had a great life on the farm and in an instant it was gone. Sure better than a CAFO, being trucked to slaughter and then the often inaccurate shot.

December 18, 2011 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Christine said...


There is a little thing in the country called freedom of speech. Don't ever let those fools compromise your writing again. I read the post and completely understood that what you were trying to convey was that you had reached a point of being able to look at those feet and accept it. It was well written and not at all offensive.

How many of those feet do they think McDonalds generates a year? The negative posters are the ones niave.

Keep it real.

December 18, 2011 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger PhysicsFysh said...

I admit initially I was shocked when I saw the picture. But I looked at it a bit more and reached the same conclusion you made in your blog post- we can be too disconnected from the source of our meat.

Incidentally, I decided to go vegetarian earlier this year because of this reason and your blog. Just as I was reading about your decision to eat meat again I decided I could do without. I am not involved in the raising and harvesting of livestock. Being an urban gal I don't have as much access to non-mass produced meat. I've slowly adjusted my family's grocery habits to derive our primary food from farmer's markets. It's been rough, but worth it (local grown broccoli is 10x better than the store!).

December 18, 2011 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger mary in manchester said...

jenna so sorry i missed the post. we know who you are. your honoring of animals...your respect for their life-giving. long as YOU know who you are it doesn't matter what the rest of us think. continue to be strong in yourself.

December 18, 2011 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger 10a said...

Sorry you felt you had to take the post down Jenna! To see pictures and read words that make me think is part of why I read your blog in the first place. They touch important, sometimes unfamiliar or even unpleasant, issues, and discussing those (civilized) enriches live I think. I'm a city girl, where else do I get a reality check about my food every now and then?

Maybe just remove the picture if that is too much for some?

December 18, 2011 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger mary in manchester said...

jenna so sorry i missed the post. we know who you are. your honoring of animals...your respect for their life-giving. long as YOU know who you are it doesn't matter what the rest of us think. continue to be strong in yourself.

December 18, 2011 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 18, 2011 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Rainsong said...

I did not see the photo. I have seen supportive comments from another thread I posted in. Can I take this moment to say what I think has brought our culture to this place of villanazation of butchering?
1. The movie Bambi gave animal’s human attributes. Hunters became villains, no longer providers. BTW it would be a poacher, not a hunter who shot a doe in spring. Bambi is a cute movie, I love Thumper. I still raise and eat rabbit.
2. Guns themselves became "bad" to the point that the only people showing us how to use these tools were Hollywood heroes instead of dad and grandpa, men who traditionally taught respect for the tool and the life it would take.
3. Factory farms have sanitized the country of how we get hamburger. There is more security at a factory farm then at most banks. America does not have a connection between the plastic tube of ground flesh and the animal who stood knee deep in squalor while being assaulted with needles to keep him "healthy" until slaughter.

Perhaps the photo was in poor taste. Perhaps not. But as long as it is hip (to use a 70's word) to be vegan, anti gun, and believe that we, like Doc Doolittle, talk to the animals, as long as we sing "e-i-e-i-o" believing Ol' MacDonald had companion animals and puts soy burgers into his happy meals, you are going to get this response.

Bless you Jenna, sing us a song.

December 18, 2011 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Barb T. said...

I didn't see the post, so maybe I am being hypocritical in responding but if you don't like, you leave! Your blog is your forum, Jenna; don't let others dictate the content!! I've been reading your blog for about a half a year. Although I live on 5 acres in a rather rural area, I don't live on a farm and don't intend to but your passion and honesty about farm life has me totally mesmerized.
I, too, would not have removed the original post; get a life people. As one of your responders said, the meat doesn't magically appear shrink wrapped at the local supermarket. You can't continue to bury your head in the sand folks!!

December 18, 2011 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...


Oh that's right meat just magically appears all tidy and cut up in a case or tray.

Its okay then as long as they don't have to get their hands dirty.

I think harvest is a reasonably way of thinking of it. The steer were raised as a crop, with a purpose. I hunt and the yearly kill is referred to by the state as the "deer harvest".

I am sorry you took the post down -- I did not see it. It sounds as though it portrayed reality.

ANd speaking of reality --

Folks -- if you were offended by that wonderful post. . . . remember it when you sit down to eat a lovely slice of Christmas ham.

Piggie got done the same way. It didn't come down the chimney from ol' Saint Nick.

December 18, 2011 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger phaedra96 said...

Having been a "farm kid" all my life; I know what, where and how my food came to my plate. Maybe I did not like the thought of it being an animal walking, eating, breathing and pooping a few days ago but we had to eat. With the disconnect between farm and plate; comes deep denial and ignorance. Those steers had a much better life than the steer that provides the Macburger but that reality does not compute with those who injest it. Keep true with what you are doing. It is more real and more farm than the cow factories providing their milk. yogurt and ice cream, etc.

December 18, 2011 at 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, I read your post yesterday. I didn't comment because I just wanted to tell the negative commenters that they were being negative and disrespectful of you, and I wasn't sure if that would help the thread much.

I didn't really like the filing cabinet imagery, though I understand it; I do feel there is something slightly different about the always-inanimate versus the animate-now-dead. Otherwise, I completely agree with you and really appreciate your writing about these difficult topics.

However: some time ago you wrote about the process of butchering a pig on your farm, with pictures. I seem to remember the responses to that were a lot more respectful, perhaps because you included a warning at the top about what was coming. Perhaps that's all you need, a slight warning?

I don't think you should stop writing about these things. They matter. They're at the heart of our existence, these paradoxes of taking life to support life. You show us a thoughtful, responsible person trying to make sense of what is central to all of us. Please don't stop.

December 18, 2011 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

One of the things I appreciate most about your blog is your willingness to explore an issue honestly and fairly. Your balanced perspective helps readers see the both the grittiness and the beauty of farm life. I can remember the first time I saw and participated in the butchering of animals on our farm as a girl. I had come to care a great deal for the cows, chickens and pigs that we were responsible for taking care of, but my parents also made us understand that these same humanely raised animals would give back sustenance for the coming year. Don't let the myopic comments of a few keep you from sharing what you really feel and believe. Stay true to your authentic self.

December 18, 2011 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Nowt wrong with your post Jenna, Folk are just so far removed from reality. As Rainsong has pointed out the factory farm is a far worse place for an animal. Here in Spain many people raise their own pig for the table. Those animals have a far better life than the pigs that are bred at and spend their lifes at local factory farm before being moved in cattle trucks to abbatoir. Dont change your posts Jenna, we are sharing in your experience and wouldnt read it if we were that far removed from your life.

December 18, 2011 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I just barely caught the original post in my Google Reader feed. Honestly, it did make me uncomfortable at first, but I read the post and made myself look. We ate beef the other night, and if I can't make myself deal with the reality of slaughter and the idea that the animal was walking around at some point (or not, since it was factory-beef, which I am trying to get away from), I have no business cooking with it.

Thank you for posting these things. Maybe, as one other commenter said, include a warning for the faint of heart? But please don't stop posting about this. All of us who don't raise our own animals need the reminder now and again of how exactly our meat got to us.

December 18, 2011 at 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former vegetarian, on and off meat eater, and new reader to your blog (although I loved your book) I think you got it just right. It's amazing to me how distanced we have become from the food we eat, and how offended people become at being exposed to the process by which we feed our bodies.

December 18, 2011 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Tony Colella said...


The frustration you are experiencing is likely due to your role as a teacher and guide to so many folks who only dream of living the lifestyle you have achieved.

I would imagine that there are many new readers who just have not reached a level of homesteading maturity to accept the realities your portrayed.

Others may not be new readers but they are what I call "20 year rookies," meaning that they could be here 20 years and still be cutting their teeth on the reality of farm life because they never do more than read.

As the farmer you have reached a level at which many here can converse so easily and readily with you. As the author and teacher you were confronted by the new student that simply was not yet ready to accept such a reality of life.

I can understand your decision to take down the post. No one want to alienate a new reader or accidentally discourage them before they get a chance to get some momentum towards achieving a dream of theirs.

Most any career has unpleasant realities. I am no doctor but I imagine that people go into the medical field in order to help people but in that field there is the reality that some people cannot be helped and will die a death that we assume is too young. If we were to take these folks and show them this reality first it might well discourage many could be great doctors from ever pursuing the field.

On the other hand there are many loyal, long term readers, matured or maturing farmers who understand and appreciate your handling of these realities and can use the wisdom of your expriences.

As the author and teacher you have a balancing act that may not necessarily be appreciated by the new student or the seasoned farmer.

In other words there is no right or wrong if you choose to take such a post and picture down.

Tony in Asheville

December 18, 2011 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Fresh Eggs Farm said...

I feel, and it seems that a number of others here feel, that you should put the post back up.
You are young woman, making the path for many of us. It is obvious that you respect your animals and yourself, which is why you choose to raise and process your animals in a humane way. Why was this post any different than the one of you processing the hog? I find it interesting. If there is ever a time that something feels too harsh for me, or my children to read, I just skip it - I would never imagine telling you what you should/should not post on your blog. Perhaps in the title you could write "Graphic" or something that will let those that are faint of heart know they should skip that post, but I, for one, read about your adventures to know what I should be looking out for over the next few years of my life.
KEEP WRITING JENNA!!!!! We're all proud of the farmer that you are.

December 18, 2011 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger DebH said...

I did see the post. I also had a feeling that it was a ..sort of naive. I have been raised on a farm and by the age of 6 I was standing by my Father as he put the bullet between the eyes and I stood there holding the sharp knife for the bleeding. I thought at that time it was just a process. Now years and years later after still butchering our own meat, it always makes me a little sad (while the hide is still attached). When its hoisted and the process starts..its skinned and then it changes to gratitude. I don't even let my dogs carry the bones of my own "raised" animals to chew on. I always Thank them and pat them. I typically even shed a tear and fret a bit before I butcher and this from a gal who on occasion scratches their backs and checks for fat and tenderloin fullness. Its just how I accept the fact. Somethings come to us in stages and your just in the beginning stage...which is fine. You have the heart to see, feel and understand all the emotion and I think you'll carry the message well. You can't please everyone...

December 18, 2011 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

I enjoyed watching the movie about Temple Grandin who understood the need to harvest animals, and who advocated and designed humane techniques and facilities to kill and process them. She had great respect for them, but knew very well what their purpose is.

December 18, 2011 at 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those people that complained are probably the same idiots who buy ammoniated beef at Wal-Mart. If they are too ignorant to see your passion for life and the respect you show for all living creatures, maybe they should be reading something more at their intellectual "Twilight".

December 18, 2011 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

I enjoyed watching the movie about Temple Grandin who understood the need to harvest animals, and who advocated and designed humane techniques and facilities to kill and process them. She had great respect for them, but knew very well what their purpose is.

December 18, 2011 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Well the people that made the offensive comments obviously don't get what your blog is all about. They are the people that enjoy being carnivores yet still assume that their meat comes nicely wrapped up at the grocery store. As long as they don't see the process the method of eating meat is an acceptable behavior. If they were to see a predator making a kill in the wild they would be equally disturbed yet say, well that's just the circle of life, but when humans make a kill we are barbarians and selfish for taking a life. Hypocritical Nation!

December 18, 2011 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger August Johnson said...

Jenna, I saw that post before you took it down. I'll have to say that anyone who eats meat and was "offended" by that post is just proving how disconnected we are from reality in this world today. That animal was treated infinitely better than any animal that is sold in a mass-market supermarket today.

I'm always amazed at people's ignorance of just where the meat they eat comes from. But it's getting easier every day to be ignorant. When I was a kid in the 1960's, you'd see the sides of beef hanging up in the butcher department in any supermarket, now all the meat arrives at the supermarket pre-cut and vacuum wrapped. All they do is remove it from the box.

December 18, 2011 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger bree said...

Well Jenna I think you just said it best. Better than I could. The post was less than what I have come to expect from you because it was so different than your other writings. It was cold and uninspiring lacking reverence and feeling. I get the whole raising your own meat thing, I do. It is of course a better thing for the animal and human alike but It was presented badly in my opinion.

December 18, 2011 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger luckybunny said...

I find it hard to believe you'd get so many complaints - who is reading your blog that can't take a picture like that, which in my mind was not the least bit gorey even. I thought it expressed what you wanted it to and it didn't bother me one bit - I'm really quite shocked you got a lot of complaints. I think that's ridiculous and it's your blog - your life and your expression. It wasn't an out of line photo. I enjoyed the post and have enjoyed your personal journey about meat. And I was vegan for a decade too so I get it!

December 18, 2011 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Dalesgirl said...

I was upset by the picture and chose not to read the post. I was shocked because it showed up in my blogger feed with no warning.

I never go to the shops so don't see butcher shops and my own food choices are vegan (for many reasons). My reaction to the picture and the fact that it stayed in my mind much longer than I thought it would gave me plenty to think about.

I am interested in everyones personal journeys around lifestyle and that includes the food they choose to eat. Thank you for posting and provoking a lively discussion.

December 18, 2011 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Tora Consolo said...

I agree with Sheryl. Your post was brave and compassionate. You have to live your life the way that best fits you Jenna. If your start bowing to those who criticize, your compromising your principles.

I'm sorry you felt the need to remove the post. Please don't do it again and give in to that sort of ignorance.

We all read your blog because of your honesty and integrity. Keep on doing what your doing and the hell with those turkeys!

December 18, 2011 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Katalyst said...


I'm totally supportive of your writing, it's real and honest. We have a farm as well, where we raise chickens and turkeys for meat. I have encountered folks(meat eaters) who scoff at the humane and sustainable raising and butchering of our own animals. It is something I just don't understand. It shows the severe disconnect between people and their food.

Next time, Jenna, please don't be discouraged and please don't remove your post. I think leaving it up, and following up with another post is really important. Finding our way back to our food is a journey in the cycles of life and death. It's raw. It's graphic. It's REAL. To raise food sustainably and respectfully is such very important work, Jenna. Much respect to you. KEEP ON KEEPIN' IT REAL, ALWAYS!

December 18, 2011 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger steak and eggs said...

Sorry I missed your post. My father was a hunter, and I had lots of family that lived on farms while I was growing up. My dad would go deer hunting and butcher the deer in our kitchen. What is the difference between that and cleaning a fish?
When I hear things like this I always wonder. If the people that want other's to butcher their meat: Not deal with reality or pictures they should not criticize those that do it for them.
There should be more young people like you Jenna. It much harder to raise your animals for food than run to the grocery store and pick up something for supper.
I think the worst part of being a farmer is the butching the animals. I would love to keep all mine, but I know that why we raise them.
I hope you never feel that you should remove a post again. What you write about is part of life.

December 18, 2011 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

My sister-in-law eats fast food damn near every day, yet she is completely HORRIFIED that we butcher our own animals. She doesn't want to see it, hear about it, or eat the meat. She'd seriously rather eat McDonalds, because OMG WE'RE MURDERERS! We know scores of people who respect what we do, but freely admit they prefer their meat to be fully sanitized and completely anonymous. I find this disconnect stunning, and frankly offensive. To be complicit in death but offended by the knowledge of it indicates to me a profound lack of maturity.

I appreciate Tony's point about the line you must walk with your readership, but I would urge you to please not self-censor based on those sorts of responses. If it was important enough to you to post in the first place, then let it stay. If you post something and then regret it, well, that's another matter. Unfortunately, speaking the truth will always make you unpopular.

(I'm sorry I missed the photo, too.)

December 18, 2011 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger steak and eggs said...

Sorry I missed your post. My father was a hunter, and I had lots of family that lived on farms while I was growing up. My dad would go deer hunting and butcher the deer in our kitchen. What is the difference between that and cleaning a fish?
When I hear things like this I always wonder. If the people that want other's to butcher their meat: Not deal with reality or pictures they should not criticize those that do it for them.
There should be more young people like you Jenna. It much harder to raise your animals for food than run to the grocery store and pick up something for supper.
I think the worst part of being a farmer is the butching the animals. I would love to keep all mine, but I know that why we raise them.
I hope you never feel that you should remove a post again. What you write about is part of life.

December 18, 2011 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger The Weekend Homesteader said...

I read daily but don't often comment, but I couldn't let this one go by without saying something. Whoever emailed you should be ashamed of themselves, especially if they eat meat! That's the problem with today's world; they don't want to see the process or byproducts. Just put their fat steak on a plate beside a mashed potato and let them enjoy it. Have they never seen pigs feet at the grocery store? Maybe they needed an eye opener photo like that. It's a reminder that meat comes from an animal that was alive!

December 18, 2011 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Tina - Our Rustic Roots said...

I saw it and found nothing offensive in it. I'm sure anything I'd say would just echo what others have said here as far as people maybe not liking being introduced to where their meat really comes from, it doesn't just come from thin air and magically appear all tidy on a tray, wrapped in plastic.


Put the post back up. Take the picture off if you want and/or put a warning at the top concerning what's to be discussed, but there's no reason to scrap the whole post, IMO.

December 18, 2011 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger bree said...

I just took the time to read all of the posts here. Only mine and one or two others negative. I would have left the post up and didn't want you to remove it but I did want you to know my reaction to it. I read you Jenna because you are a great and inspirational writer. I am not ignorant, a hypocrite, an idiot, a freakin ahole, a magical thinker, naive or any of the other radical adjectives used to describe people who don't fall in line with other's views. So many over the top and ugly words here on such a great blog. That is sad. Keep writing Jenna. I will be reading as I do every day. Thank you :)

December 18, 2011 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

jenna, a point of view;

i know my meet walked around and was a living being. and i know that they have to die so that i can eat them and i am grateful to them for it. i respect their lives as well as their deaths. however, i have nevr seen that death. i could not participate in that death. that does not mean that i respect the animal less than you or others do.

all this to say, it seemed a bit visceral to me, as i have never seen the death.

December 18, 2011 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger karental said...

The picture didn't bother me at all, and I thought it was appropriate. The truth is, our meat comes from animals that were once alive. Harvest and butcher, they are not dishonest words. I am sorry there was such a response to your post, but please know not everyone was offended.

December 18, 2011 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 18, 2011 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

Yes. So with you, bree. Guess nobody can express an opinion without being lambasted (haha). I'm not hypocritical. I'm not an asshole. I'm not a "magical thinker" (I'm an atheist, so far from magical thinking!). I guess like you said, that if you express an opinion different from most the ugliness comes out. Wow. Will this post be remembered in a year? Probably not at the top of most people's minds. But the hurtful words someone posts toward another might still be remembered. Sad people are so uncivil and reactive.

December 18, 2011 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

but it did not offend me. just a shock, but shocks are not all bad

December 18, 2011 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Hound Doggy said...

I wasn't offended, per se, by the picture. And if I were you I certainly wouldn't have taken it down. People can be offended by all sorts of things. I don't think you need to live your life being concerned about someones' reactions.
On the other hand....And this is just MY opinion....which doesn't have anything to do with you. :)
I don't want to deal with the death of an animal. I don't think that makes me a hypocrite or an asshole.
I want to buy the parts in styrofoam. I don't want to see the blood draining out of the neck. When I was about 10 or so I spent the night with a friend and in the morning geese and ducks were killed and bled. I would have been happier having not seen that. I also saw a cat being hit by a car and killed. That too was something I wish I could unsee.

This is just one of my "things"....I don't want to see it or be involved.

I'll add another bit of interest to this post. I was a funeral director/embalmer. I've seen things and been involved in things that I won't even mention here....but I would bet that the general public would not want to be involved or see it....but these things happen and ARE.
I don't think people are assholes because they don't want to see the aftermath of how someones loved one died.

December 18, 2011 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger karental said...

The picture didn't bother me at all, and I thought it was appropriate. The truth is, our meat comes from animals that were once alive. Harvest and butcher, they are not dishonest words. I am sorry there was such a response to your post, but please know not everyone was offended.

December 18, 2011 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

It was your choice to take it down, but I still saw it this morning on my Google Reader. I was a vegetarian for almost 20 years (and a strict vegan for a couple of those years) and I have no problem with what you posted. I think people "want" to be offended by things on the Internet; some look for it. I began eating meat (local meat), a few months ago. There are some things I'm trying to get over from the veggie days. I would like to be able to watch an animal being slaughtered for food, humanely, without getting sick. There are steps to this process. I feel like that if I'm going to EAT an animal, I owe it to be able to watch it die and honor its death. I get vegetarians' outrage over the photo. It's expected. But for meat-eaters getting offended by the photo and posting is plain hypocrisy. It amazes me how much people want to be left in the dark about things and to remain ignorant. That's why our food system is in the state that is in (and our political, social, cultural systems as well, for that matter). Also, it amazes me that meat-eaters and vegetarians (ovo-lacto) are sometimes offended by posts like yours that show an animal's humane death when they are okay with eating industrially farmed eggs, dairy, and meat (to the ovo-lactos - ind. farmed dairy is just as bad as the meat industry. sometimes worse). Post on, sister. You cannot please everyone and why would you want to? Some people like things to complain about and love to remain in a state of ignorance.

December 18, 2011 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

People will nit pick anything to death when given the chance. I was surprised at first, but I was assuming that it was your intent to shock us into remembering where it is that our food comes from. It's ok if people don't want to kill the animal that will be feeding them, but it's completly hypocritical to pretend that the meat wasn't a living creature in the first place. I can even understand them not liking the picture, but to bully and berate you for posting it is bullshit. Those people need to examine their own morals and values before they attack yours.

December 18, 2011 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

Jenna -
You have not done a horrible job sharing your heart, those readers have not done a good job understanding what you have said.

Last night I was at a party, and the hostess, who is really a dear and supportive friend, said something that really shook me. She introduced me to some other quests and shared that I live on a farm and raise animals and (in a fairly odd voice) said, "But she kills the chickens humanely... Tell me again how you kill something humanely?" I hesitated a second but one of the other guests jumped in and said, "My mom used to wring their necks. Bing wham DONE." I could have kissed him but his wife might have misunderstood. I said that I preferred a quick jugular cut and moseyed over to the buffet, which ironically had a big plate of Buffalo style chicken wings on it! I nearly choked on my sodapop.

You do good work young lady. There will always be hypocrits, and those who fantasize about playing farmer but don't want to get crap on their shoes. I know you will figure out the fine line, but I for one would love to have read that post. Perhaps you could set up a "Click here if you want the full story" option.

December 18, 2011 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Yvette said...

I'm so sad to hear about the reaction you got. I saw the post and didn't click through to the comments, which sounds like it's just as well. I would have been upset for you, I'm sure. Those negative comments prove a point you made in the post, actually...that our being totally removed from our food is tragic. The photo of the hooves wasn't sensational or particularly gory, and it's completely hypocritical to lambast a blog post about gratitude for an animal that was humanely raised to feed you and the farmer who allowed you to be a part of the process. (Yes, America, poke the mindful farmer in the eye, and then go out and eat a hamburger. Good work, dummy.)

I understand having sensitivity for your readers, but your base is folks who want to read about Cold Antler FARM, with all that entails, and sometimes with all the entrails. You are always respectful of the lives changed and lost there. You've done a beautiful job showing us your heart and intentions. This is why we love your intentions, and your heart.

Don't be discouraged, Jenna. Please keep showing us the good, the bad, and the difficult. Those other folks have lots of blogs about kittens wearing clothes to read, if that's what they're after.

The rest of us are staying right here...

December 18, 2011 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Two things.
1. I felt your post was in good taste and a valid point was made about the realities of life. You have a right to speak your own thoughts and opinions and not be shamed into backing down. Please reinstate the post. Regardless of what I, or anyone else thinks, it is your words and your right to express them.
2. I love this blog. The only thing that ever bothers me is when people start attacking. For this reason I rarely read the comments. The readers have every right to express their opinions without retaliation from other readers. Calling them hypocrits and aholes is not accomplishing anything. You are further alienating them and making sure that they do not want to listen to what is being said. Would you want to hear something from someone who attacked you?
Lets be nice people.

December 18, 2011 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Em said...

What the heck! I saw and read the post yesterday but didn't read the comments because I was in a hurry. I would have been furious to see them, it sounds like. As a farmer myself, I was more curious about what you were planning on doing with the hooves than anything else (and impressed with the cleanliness of the cut and the hooves).

I agree with others here in the comments who think the post should be reinstated, photo and all. This is real life, folks, and that's where your meat comes from. Part of the problem with our society is that most people choose to look away (or in this case, protest the fact that they actually caught a glimpse!) from the reality of our food supply. It's okay to choose not to be involved on a personal level--lord knows I find it challenging somedays--but as far as I'm concerned it's not okay to blind yourself to the sacred partnership of man and animal because it's a little too gory and real for your sanitized suburban life, especially if you eat meat.

I understand that with the type of public farm life you lead, and with your sensitivity to controlling your brand and marketing message, that post won't go back up and THIS post was unfortunately necessary. But just know that you're not the weird one here--you're the one doing it right. Good luck and godspeed during the winter ahead, and enjoy the return of the light!

December 18, 2011 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Em said...

And a quick P.S.: I was on the fence about ordering a physical copy of Barnheart (I prefer farm memoirs and such on my Kindle, as bookshelf space is at a premium around here), but I'll be ordering it today as a thank you for keeping it real.

December 18, 2011 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger pawsfurme said...

Oh for goodness sake. Put the post back up, picture and all so the rest of your fans who actually appreciate you can enjoy it for themselves. If people don't like the idea that their hamburger or steak once had a life, or in this case, a name then they can just eat plants...oh wait...vegetables and fruits might still contain bug parts. And on top of that, fruits and vegetables were once living, too. Who is to say they don't have thoughts of their own? Has anyone ever tested that? What about the way fruits and vegetable are ripped from their plant bodies? How is that different? You're still taking a life for your own consumption. Does anyone actually THANK the plant for having provided them a means of continuing their own life?
I honor you for the care you show the plants and animals in your care, right down to the way you have them butchered/harvested in the most humane way you can find.
And I thank you for showing us the raw reality of the process of life, care, and death. People can and will be offended, no matter what you say or how you say it. I understood your analogy of filing cabinets perfectly. Raising animals and butchering them is as normal a part of farm life as filing papers in cabinets is to an office worker. Period.

Please consider putting the post and photo back up and don't mind those that live their lives with rose-tinted glasses...Heck, sounds like some have darkened to maroon.

December 18, 2011 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger *jean* said...

never underestimate the power of denial that permeates this are writing to 3rd and 4th generations removed from any kind of real life...including human birth and death...continue being brave, you...freya would be proud

December 18, 2011 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

The word "harvest" is used routinely out here by the local meat CSAs and farmers markets, etc. There is nothing dishonest about that term.

I saw the post. The photo topic was only slightly different from what one can see in most grocery store meat cases where you can find pig's feet, chicken feet, and so forth.

There was nothing wrong with the post IMO and the written portion of it was very heartfelt and in feeling with the ongoing theme of the blog. Keep up the good writing!

December 18, 2011 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

The word "harvest" is used routinely out here by the local meat CSAs and farmers markets, etc. There is nothing dishonest about that term.

I saw the post. The photo topic was only slightly different from what one can see in most grocery store meat cases where you can find pig's feet, chicken feet, and so forth.

There was nothing wrong with the post IMO and the written portion of it was very heartfelt and in feeling with the ongoing theme of the blog. Keep up the good writing!

December 18, 2011 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger bree said...

Just a note: I have read each and every one of your blogs, watched all of your you tube videos and Barnhart is wrapped and underneath the Christmas tree with your personal note and signature, ordered and shipped from Battenkill Books. I am not a farmer. Your audience is bigger than only farmers. Something to remember.

December 18, 2011 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

girl you don't offend me by showing either feet or the hole animal. By now anyone who follows your blog should know what you are about. Why would they even bother posting a complaint unless they were just someone "blowing through" so to speak. I am sorry you removed the post. I read it and it was non offensive. Keep doing the good stuff.

December 18, 2011 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Misty said...

For those who would like to live on a farm someday, just know that there are things that happen on a farm that don't happen anywhere else. There are beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Fresh mown grass and lemonade. There are cute little bunnies and chicks. There are fresh vegetables and fruit. Fresh baked bread and woodstoves. And an endless supply of work and sweat. There is a harvest time when you pull your veggies from the garden and pick your fruit from the trees. There is a harvest time when the animals you fed and watered become your dinner and stock your larder for the cold months ahead. This is just the way of farms and has been since the beginning of mankind.

A separation between people who choose to live, work and die on farms and a people who choose to live, work and die in town does exist. Those who live in town rarely see the stark realization of harvest time. They only see the fruits of others labor at the grocery store, where they "pick" their fruit from a bin or can and "choose" their meat from a freezer case. But the bottom line is this: these items come from somewhere. They are the product of someone else's sweat and labor.

On our farm, my husband and I have an agreement. I am the the one to deal with the life and death of animals. He chooses not to. That is OK. He has a tender heart and I understand that. That doesn't mean he doesn't know where his food comes from or how it happens. If there were chicken "parts" to dispose of, he would help with that aspect. If pigs or cattle need to be herded into a trailer and hauled to the butcher, he is there to help. But the actual chore of killing and eviscerating is not his thing.

Most city dwellers are shocked at the reality of the life/death cycle of our food supply. Even some who live on farms are shocked by it. But it is a reality, nonetheless. Better to be aware of the reality than be blindsided by it. We become better consumers when we are aware of where our food comes from. After all, that is where the word consumers comes from... those who "consume".

Just one more thing... how many of you are shocked to see a couple of hooves laying on the ground, But aren't shocked to see a human being killed or mutilated on TV? It is what we are conditioned to these days. Even the smallest of children have seen hundreds of murders on TV before the age of five. But a couple of cow hooves laying on the ground? Fascinating to say the least.

December 18, 2011 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Casie Duberstein said...

Wow... can't believe all the hoopla over yesterday's post. I read it and didn't even think to go on to the comments. Now I wish I had, if only to tell those who complained that just like all media (that's really what this is) it's their right to "change the station/channel/blog whatever" if they don't like what they hear/see/read. You will never be able to make everyone happy so don't even try. It was a honest. insightful post relevant to what your blog has always been about. If it offended some, maybe they should look elsewhere for their reading material. No, I'm not going to be calling those who had a negative comment names or anything of the sort, but if the post wasn't to their liking it's their right to move on to something else that is. Plain and simple. For those who are interesting in this way of life it was a great post, as always.

Jenna, please don't censor yourself! Put the post back up, with a warning up top if you must, but the rest of us appreciate honesty and reality in your writing. Thank you!!

December 18, 2011 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Karen L. said...

I saw the post about the steer and even left a comment. Today, I have to agree with both of "bree's" comments. I don't think people commenting should be thinking others were so judgmental when they did not get to read the comments or know the people. And aren't they being judgmental now themselves? People have differing opinions and shouldn't be called names just because they don't agree with someone else. Seems like that post brought out the worst in all of us. What happen to being supportive and civil? Too bad!

December 18, 2011 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I thought it was a beautiful post, Jenna. I don't think any sensible person who has been following your journey could confuse your message with indifference to life. Your posts have always been laced with a reverence for the lives that sustain you. It's what I love most about this blog!

I think it's a shame that you took the post down, because frankly, I don't think anyone should yield to hypocrisy and willful ignorance. Shame on those people for criticizing you! And shame on them for not trying to step outside of their comfort zone to widen their perspective on things. You're providing a much needed glimpse into what it means to be a meat eater and any meat eater that has a problem with that should re-evaluate.

December 18, 2011 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger David said...

Do not ever censor yourself here; it would be inauthentic. If someone is going to eat meat, they should be OK with seeing where and how that meat is harvested. If they don't like it, then don't eat meat. Period.

Please do not listen to the naysayers -- you were right to post it and whatever else you want to post. Keep on keepin' on, Jenna

December 18, 2011 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

Wow there is so much generalizing and finger-pointing and just plain nastiness. I am NOT a 3rd/4th generation removed from "real" life and who the hell are you to tell anyone what a "real" life is?????

I grew up on a farm. I have read this blog for longer than a lot of you, (hence not "blowing through") and I would like to believe I could express a valid opinion on something without uncivilized retaliation. Apparently not.

OK. Have good holidays everyone if or how you celebrate them. I don't need this ugliness over my holiday, and will choose to come back next year. Maybe.

December 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Em said...

Haha, I like that! "Something to remember." That's an implied threat if I've ever heard one. It seems as if some people are awfully invested in making their voice the loudest on this topic.

For the folks complaining now about being judged, perhaps you should have thought about how cutting that can feel before exercising your own judgment previously? There are too many people in this world who can dish it out but can't take it.

December 18, 2011 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 18, 2011 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

dang! i missed the post too - i would have liked to see it. Jenna, dont let the haters get you down. folks who scream obscenities at we farmers after getting burgers from drive thrus have their own problems. i've been giving a detailed 'how to' on home hog butchery and have gotten nothing but thanks for the information. you are learner, keeper, and distributor of institutional knowledge that must be preserved.

maybe you can turn off the comments for posts like that?

next time sound the alarm and i'll post a pic of our bucket of hog trotters and draw fire from ya, baby. there's a lot of us who will stand shoulder to shoulder with you.

keep up the great work and just give them haters the finger. don't apologize or step back from what you are doing.


December 18, 2011 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

When I first started reading the blog I never looked at the comments or commented, just took in Jenna’s point of view. I miss that. So often things turn negative and hurtful, and I try to avoid negativity everywhere—work, TV, ect…. I don’t want to leave the blog with hurtful comments stuck in my head. Things must have gotten pretty ugly for a whole post to be taken down—I think I’m staying out of the comment section for a while and just take in the blog for what it is.

*I'm sorry I keep double posting...I don't know what's up with that.

December 18, 2011 at 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's much nicer to whine and get upset over the idea that our food comes from living creatures and to not admit it than to deal with reality. It is what is wrong with people in general. Head in sand syndrome. I saw the post yesterday and thought it was a fine. People just need to get over it. Food in little plastic wrapped trays still had hooves once up on a time and was killed in a horrific manor. This was a very nice tribute to the cow and the food.

December 18, 2011 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger e.m.b. said...

Jenna, I for one found that post one of your most honest...and even beautiful. Your heart and love of animals shone wrote a line at the very end, something like "and a farmer knows that death is only a continuation." That's profound. Keep buggering on. Keep writing. Keep rocking the boat.

December 18, 2011 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Neal and Laura said...

Thank you Jenna. I'm with you, and most of these good people! If you're going to be eating meat, you better come to some sort of terms with the whole process - death, blood, and body parts included. Otherwise it's completely hypocritical.

Thanks again. You should put that post back. : )

December 18, 2011 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Chad and Kristi said...

I echo your sentiments exactly Jenna. I only wish I would have checked your blog yesterday.
I was a vegetarian for five years and am now an avid hunter and raise a few animals on my farm for my table. I can assure you that the things you say here couldn't be truer.

December 18, 2011 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

For goodness sake put the photo and post back up, dont cater words or pictures to your readers. This is your daily diary, years down the road you'll appreciate reviewing your truth, not material altered to please.

I personally thought the photo was beautiful and the post par with that I agree/disagree with you in general. Girl, this is your blog, stick to your guns. This is what readers should expect, a cold antler reality. No warnings needed.

December 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Elliot said...

Jenna, I absolutely agree with your point, but I thought that particular picture was a bit callous. I'm not sure why, but it just didn't seem respectful. That's just my humble opinion and I don't think any of us need to be thrilled with everything you post and see no reason why it should be taken down. Your blog is excellent, period.

I think it was a great idea to have a conversation about the realties of eating meat. How ironic it is that some of us are not respectful of one another as people when we are discussing the topic of respect for animals.

December 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

You have done a magnificent job of sharing your great and wonderful heart, Jenna! Any who have followed your journey from vegetarianism to one who assumes responsibility for the lives she feeds off of and assumes her place in the design of nature would understand that. I just don't understand where the critics were coming from. Many of us do, I think, understand your heart and appreciate your willingness to share your life with us.

December 18, 2011 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Jennifer King said...

I read yesterdays post and to tell you the truth I could have done without the picture. It didn't seriously offend me, but to be very honest, it felt a little too personal and not something that should be shared. As someone who raises much of the meat my family eats, I applaud anyone who wants to be very connected to where their food comes from.
To be present and the end of our animals lives (whatever the reason) is a private time for me in which to be thankful to them, and appreciate what they've given us. I prefer to photograph the animals as how they lived and remember them that way.
Your blog is very education and you do it very well. I think if people are outraged it's because they were more shocked (and reacted) rather than reading all your words and appreciate what the post was saying.

December 18, 2011 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Kelly McMichael said...

I was perfectly fine with the post. We are transitioning to a farm and are coming to grips with the idea of butchering our own meat. It will always be a struggle but I shouldn't eat flesh if I'm not willing to be a part of its life and death. Simple as that.

I'm sorry to say that most people are narrow minded and just like to complain. I see it everyday. They need to get beyond their styrofoam packaged meat and get into the "real" world, a world most Americans haven't experienced in over 60 years.

December 18, 2011 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger onesilentwinter said...

i am one those who commented saying that comparing the slaughter of an animal to tomato is naive.

jenna i think you should have left the post up and it is not so much the picture but the words associated to them that i found disheartening. i think by taking it down what you ended up doing is making it if people disagree with what you say- they are bullies or arrogant or clueless according to the majority of the comments left on this post which is not the case. they simply have a different view or opinion of what you have said. all those who have left comment here say that you should be able to say what you want and of course that is true but by erasing the post you make it clear that you do not believe in free speech or a view that does not agree with yours that is what saddens me i come here because i learn from you and that does not mean i agree with all your practices nor do i feel i have too, nor do i think you expect us too but by removing a post that have people disagree with you and not allowing others to see it and form there own opinion does not seem fair

December 18, 2011 at 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that what was a day of celebration (of Tasty's life, of your involvement in it, and the circle closing) and merriment with friends turned into a long volley of debate.

I hope that your weekend and this holiday season take a more jolly turn for you.

December 18, 2011 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Drew Shiel said...

Your blog, your voice, your choice of what to post. I'd like to see the post put back.

There's a peculiar tendency to attack accurate portrayals of the origins of meat - Stonehead gets regular waves of negative comments and emails from a post on his blog about how to skin a rabbit. It mystifies me.

December 18, 2011 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger bree said...

Thank you onesilentwinter. I do agree with all that you said and it is my feeling too.

December 18, 2011 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger georgie said...

Well said. I do not ranch or farm but do eat meat and appreciate the work of ranchers and farmers. I'd have a real problem harvesting/butchering livestock I'd raised, especially if it had been raised since calf, lamb,chick and had a name.

December 18, 2011 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Justine said...

Jenna, Im sure all of this has already been said but I just wanted to add my two cents. I didnt get to see the post that you put up yesterday but I wish I did. A few years back I probably would have been one of those people who were disgusted and appalled by the picture you posted yesterday. I would never have written hate mail or mean comments because I have always believed people have the right to say what they want. I would have been hurt looking at the picture most likely because I figured myself for an animal lover, I happily went to the super market and bought my shrinkwrapped meat and took it home to eat, my sensibilities wouldnt let me prepare the meal though raw meat was hard for me to look at. Then things started changing I started becomming interested in the homesteading movement, I started reading blogs like yours. I started thinking that if I can eat the meat I should have the gall no the respect for the animal to actually be able to handle the raw meat.... and since then Ive slowly adapted and changed my sensibilities I still have a hard time looking at a slaughter of an animal but blogs like yours have helped me come through and realize that we have to respect our meat and if we so choose to eat it we should be able to watch it die.... its a gift to the animal that laid its life down for us.... a respect in a way... at least thats the way I see it. Anyway what I am trying to say is that your blog has helped many people myself included come to terms with small farm butchering and learning about the processes in general we all know you respect your animals and give them sweat blood and tears. In my opinion that is far better than the "love" that I, as a naive girl that never even knew where my meat came from, used to have for the animals wrapped in that shrink wrapped package. Hope to see more posts like the one you took down.

December 18, 2011 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

How about respect for one another - 'fools', 'idiots', 'assholes' Seriously? Let's agree to disagree. Peace

December 18, 2011 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Firecracker Farm said...

I must say that when our family had Tasty butchered
yesterday it felt like harvesting. It was the gathering in of sustenance as a result of a season of work and waiting. I think it really is more descriptive of what we do. We certainly " butcher" animals, but it is part of the process of the harvest. Thank you Jenna for causing me to stop and think more about it.

December 18, 2011 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

I was startled to see the photo, but I took the time to read the post, and I understood your message. My initial disgust gave way to appreciation of what you were trying to convey.

Logically, we all know that meat doesn't magically appear in the supermarket, we aren't used to seeing part of the process that feeds us.

December 18, 2011 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

I love your honesty, please don't let some people bring you down.

I read the blog post yesterday and LOVED it. Accurate and concise and REAL. I butchered (harvested) (whatever you want to call it), my four hens two weeks ago. One of the most REAL things I have ever done. I had to call on the butchering GODS to help me get through it, but I did it and I blogged about it. Some of my readers were a little edgy and wouldn't read the whole thing....some thought I was nuts...some thought I was fantastic.....some were devastated! My readers knew just how much I LOVED my hens, by the way I take care of them and blog about them and take them into the house when it's too cold!! So they didn't all get the whole "harvesting" thing.

But, it is what it is.....SOUP!!! and freaking delicious to boot! And I'll have more hens next year and I can't wait!

December 18, 2011 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger becky said...

I personally missed the post but I'm sure it was not at all gory or inhumane sometimes I wonder if people really think their pork and beef grow in styrofoam pack in the store when we butchered our chickens I cried it was heartbreaking to kill something that you raised from a baby but knowing that you gave it a good life helps to ease they pain of slaughter

December 18, 2011 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Mercy, Maud. My response to that image yesterday was, "Boy, I bet my Golden Retriever would LOVE those as a chew toy!"

Some folks just gotta get over themselves....

December 18, 2011 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger The Village Queen said...

I guess you changed your mind cause the post is still there on my computer. And good for you. Harvest is the correct word among others for dealing with the butchering of a meat animal. Seeing the feet suprized me for a moment but hey its whats left until in the past a enterprising housewife would have boiled those feet to make glue and other things. Nothing was wasted, how smart our forbearers were to figure out a use for every part of the animal taken.
And hey its your blog, put up what you want, if people dont want to look at it they can scroll by or not come back. But they are missing truth and reality, thats what happens.
Its an interesting attitude especially contrasted to whats going on at Bedlam Farm blog, all the people reacting to Rose the dogs death. Our relationship to animals and pets is very complicated these days. I dont have a problem looking at steer feet compaired to starving and abused horse, cats, dog etc.
I think you posted a very clear and compassionate view of that task and how you felt about it. Carry on Jenna and let us know how it tastes.

December 18, 2011 at 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't think the post nor the hooves photo were in bad taste. I eat beef and I know from where it comes. Beef eaters who where offended are suffering from cognitive dissonance.
A week ago 3 cows were killed by a freight train nearby. My husband (a railroad employee) had to go to the scene and take photos to document the event - and remove the remains from the track. I won't share the photos as they are ugly. These cows will be consumed by coyotes, eagles, ravens, and other scavengers.

December 18, 2011 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger erislaughs said...

i am a straight up vegan and i was not the most pleased to see severed feet on my screen, but that is the reality of meat and it is also the reality of this blog - one that i have followed for years (like when you were a vegetarian etc) and so i know what goes on here. if things get to hairy i just scroll on. if things ever get untenable i can unsubscribe.

meat is a dead f@#$ing animal that gets cut bled and butchered. if people ARE going to eat meat, i would much rather they were like you, facing the reality of their decisions and making them carefully. eating meat is not a necessity, (it's not), but if you are going to do it, doing it your way is the only reasonably acceptable way to do it.

anyone that isnt vegan that has a problem with that picture is deluded, and probably super gross.

December 18, 2011 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger ~ Janis said...

1.Repost yesterdays blog post AND repost all the other posts you have deleted in the past.

2.Anything worth reading is bound to be controversal

3.Good posts create conversations.

4.Conversations are educational, regardless of the different pro and con views. There is something to learn from everyone.


5.Temple Grandin is coming to Vermont January 20 & 21

December 18, 2011 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Caitlin-Cats Critters said...

Just wanted to tell you that I had no problem with seeing steer feet and anyone who eats meat should deal with the reality of where it comes from. Also they should realize how much better a life this steer lived then ones in a feed lots that where the meat they probably eat comes from.

December 18, 2011 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

Just writing to show my support for you, Jenna, as many others have here. You have conveyed your heart beautifully and that post was a respectful and honest tribute to the life of that cow, so wonderfully cared for and humanely raised. It's incredibly offensive to me that there are those who want to eat this kind of "clean" meat (or any meat, really) yet also want a sanitized version of the process.

P.S. our theory here is that the complaints you received from so-called meat-eaters may have in fact been members of PETA in disguise ;)

December 18, 2011 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger LindaSue said...

Jenna Read the post but didn't bother with the comments. You did a good job and don't worry. You can make some of the people happy some of the time but never all of the people all of the time. Life and death are all part of us all of the time. A lot of people just want the clean sanitized part and don't want to see the other half. I would like to see the ones that complained go to the store and find no beef or chicken in the case. No fresh veges out there to pick thru. Just canned and processed and chemically treated foods left for them to pick from. Maybe that would change a few minds, but even after that there would still be a few who would complain. So remember to keep your heart true and carry on. You are doing great.

December 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger ican said...

What saddens me is all of the sanctimonious name-calling that I see going on in these comments. There are plenty of people who understand *exactly* where their food comes from but don't necessarily feel the need to see or be a part of the process. I'm not sure how that earns them the label of "idiot" or "ahole" though. The world would be an awfully boring place if we were all exactly the same; perhaps some here need to practice a little more tolerance.

I personally didn't care to see the photo, and I do agree that a disclaimer or warning would have perhaps staved off some of the offense (though truthfully, reading through them now that it's been re-posted, I don't see anything nearly as vitriolic there as what I've seen in many of the comments of this post).

December 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Now it's starting to feel like Christmas :)

Its a blog post folks, on both sides, calm down and relax.

Some of you are talking about respect for animals while beating the s**t out of your fellow readers.

Irony, always a fun thing!

December 18, 2011 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Ya know, right now out in my yard, it looks like maybe 5 cows were killed-butchered-slaughterd-harvested, whatever ya want to call it, by 3 ravenous meat eating dogs. Really, bones laying all over the place. I go to a slaughterhouse and get beef hearts and bones for my dogs. That's what they eat.

And, if you walk out into the pastures all around me right now, you will more than likely see chicken body parts from the "fertilizer" they spread all over the hay fields that comes from the huge massive chicken house operations that are a very big industrial part of Georgia where I live.

I have butchered-slaughtered-killed-harvested, whatever ya want to call it, lots of chickens. The first one was the hardest. Took me an hour to finally get that hatchet down onto the poor guys throat. But after that, a piece of cake. One after another. We were covered in chicken blood, from head to foot, by the time we were done. And I make broth from chicken feet! Imagine that.

I have also raised rabbits for meat. I did not kill them. But did all the rest of the process. Something about a pretty little rabbit getting it's throat cut does not appeal to me.

And I had a friend butcher-harvest-slaughter-kill, a wether for me. He already had him hung in the tree when we got there. Also, something I do not want to see happen, but will do all the rest of the job.

I have another wether that needs to go in the freezer soon. Jenna, you have made me realize that I do not want to take him to the slaughterhouse. I did take my steer and a heifer there. It broke my heart to leave them. On a cold hard concrete floor with other cows and not his friend. Broke my heart. I also will have lambs in the spring. I will have to find someone to come here to do the job. I just don't think I can take them off the farm to be done anymore.

Thank you, Jenna, for being honest. And for laying your heart out there for all the world to see. There are so many differing opinions on everything. You just do what you need to do. And your friends too. I appreciate all you are doing way up there.

You inspire me!! Thank you!

December 18, 2011 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I saw the post. I was actually grateful for it. The feet of a butchered animal aren't currently part of my livelihood, but I hope that they will be someday. While I still felt the shock of seeing those feet for the first time, your post showed me that it doesn't have to be gruesome. That the death of that animal can (and should) be done gratefully and thoughtfully. Thank you for it. I'm glad I didn't miss it.

December 18, 2011 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

You can't please everyone Jenna, and I don't think you aim to as long as you're keeping it real. Some people just don't enjoy the reality of the situation, they're in the 'I don't want to think about it' catagory of where their food comes from. I think as long as everyone's still buying their meat from their grocer, or local WalMart than they have no finger to point about who cares less about the animal their meat came from. Maybe everyone should take an afternoon to watch Food Inc and then see how they feel about the hooves in the snow.

December 18, 2011 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger chesapeake said...

I don't get the uproar. I think most of us longtime readers know your heart and intentions, Jenna. Anyone shocked by the photo: this is a farming blog. The end.

If I'd gone onto a wedding blog and seen those cow feet, that might have surprised me. But here? No. Also, I eat beef. All the time. All. The. Time. I don't think it's right for me to look away from butchering photos when I continue to eat meat. Out of sight out of mind is just not genuine unless you're a veg*n.

December 18, 2011 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Cait said...

Good for you Jenna, it is always a difficult thing to witness and be a part of; the act of doing it doesn't mean its easy or heartless.

It seems it is easier for people to eat their meat out of a nice paper package and avoid thinking of where it came from while letting others (farmers, butchers etc.) take care of the hard parts for them.

As a farmer I am fully present in every moment of our animals lives: checking at all hours of the night waiting the birth, carefully tending the lambs as they grow, milking the ewes, quality time spent with them relaxing in the field and so on. We don't butcher here on our farm but accompany them through the whole process.

While we don't name our meat animals that does not mean it is any easier on us. We have watched them grow for months and thank them. We have given them the most natural and healthy lives possible and appreciate what they give us.

December 18, 2011 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger ican said...

And the judgement continues... people really shouldn't presume to know what others are thinking or where they're coming from. Everyone has his/her own story, which unless you are that person, you don't know it. Please stop making assumptions (because you know what happens when you assume!).

December 18, 2011 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Shari said...

I don't have time to read all of the comments you got on this post and the last one, but I have scanned them all. Isn't it nice to know that you have so many more supporters than critics?
I am a vegetarian -- but my husband is not. I think the photo was fine. What I find repulsive and disrespectful are the people who don't seriously consider where their food is coming from before they put it into their mouth. Wasting an animal is also very sickening. How easy is it for someone to throw away their fast food taco because it got cold? Pretty easy, because the animal that was put into that taco didn't matter to them in the first place.
I think that people are so out of touch with reality these days, that being confronted with a real image like the steer hooves threatens them and their comfortable, plastic wrapped lives.
Oh, and who cares whether it is called butchering or harvesting? I mean, really? Whatever you call it -- the result is the death of one animal to sustain another. It happens all the time, all around the world.
I salute you for respecting your animals enough to give them a happy life and a painless death. If more people cared about their meat that much, factory farms would be gone -- and we'd probably have a few more vegetarians among the ranks. ;)

December 18, 2011 at 6:06 PM  
Blogger Nadia said...

Currently in my IGA there are cow feet on the hoof in the meat case. They look like Tasty’s except for the mud. If the butcher hadn’t been busy I would have asked him who buys them and what for. Jenna, I’m sure you never thought you would get this response when you posted about your day with the Daughtons. You are very brave for opening your life up to others you don't know like you do. Of course everyone cannot agree, but I’m saddened by the lack of civility and judging displayed about your post by some readers on both side of animal consumption issue. I guess this has become the norm for many and deemed common practice and acceptable. I wish you blessings as you continue to do your great works, and thank you for sharing part of your life and aspirations with us.

December 18, 2011 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger karen said...

Jenna, there is ;not much to say that has not already been said by all the friends of CAF before me. Please don't think you have not done a good job of letting us into your heart, nothing could be further from the truth. You can't please everyone all the time, just stay real as always and know it is right. I have read all the comments and the love for you and your farm and the life you share with us all shines out like a beacon. Peace and love to you and all you hold dear. Karen from CT

December 18, 2011 at 7:10 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

attagirl - thanks for keeping it real and posting it back up there - no matter what.

December 18, 2011 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Don't let the negative response get to you! You have done an excellent job communicating the reality of farm life. The pure joy that you take from your animals and the care and respect with which you treat them speak volumes!!! Don't bow to the pressure to change!

December 18, 2011 at 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The photo did shock and disturb me a tiny bit, though I find it hard to pinpoint just exactly why that is. I'm quite the omnivorre, and although I've never raised and harvested an animal, I've shot, cleaned and butchered many ducks, squirrel, rabbits, and deer. Been up to my elbows and then some inside a deer while field dressing them out.

There is, in my experience, a bit of melancholy after I kill an animal....... whether it is a rabbit or buck, a sense of joy, of victory, yet also of........loss. A sense that this once splendid animal, so beautiful, free, and magnificent, is soon going to be reduced to small white packages in my freezer. It is a passing feeling or sensation, and then, it dissapates.

Yet still, those hooves disturbed me a tiny bit. (not complainin', lol, just thinking aloud....) I'm just curious as to the why it did they? Anyhow, I'm not whining about the photo.

In any case, it will separate those who are capable of raising and butchering critters from those who cannot. If the photo is too painful to view, well, it is the reality of life on a farm, isn't it? Hooves are one of the least grisly part of the process, Imho...

Al from Pennsylvania

December 18, 2011 at 8:27 PM  
Blogger Mindy said...

It sounds like you misunderstood many of the comments yesterday - having read them all myself. My comment was not meant to be offensive but rather to comment on what I thought was a glib comparison. It sounds like you didn't mean it the way many of us took it. That's fine - it's the internet, there are misunderstandings all over the place. And I'm sorry that you think I (and the other folks who disagreed with your post) don't understand the purpose of your blog / work. I do. And I 'm sure they do too. I appreciate what you do very much and read / buy your books all the time. Wouldn't life be boring if we didn't disagree sometimes?

December 18, 2011 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Brittany Aukett said...

Yes I must say I actually liked it.. so many are so very much disconnected from food.. in my gardens last week I invited in a neighbor who was stunned that tomatoes grew like that, or that strawberries were from that small plant.. It stunned me that someone can have no idea about what they eat.. So yes your picture shocked me then I liked it because it showed the real raw truth of what we eat, yes that burger your shoving in your face was once a living mooing animal and you either accept that fact or STOP EATING IT.. I eat meat, know where it comes from, thank the animals giving me my meal, and treasure every bite

~ Organic Momma

December 18, 2011 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Wow! Intense.

Jenna - it is your blog. I enjoyed both posts. Personally, I don't always agree with you on religion. I still read everyday. ;)

Big hug!

December 18, 2011 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

Hmm, tough one is this. Many people are disconnected from the whole slaughter process these days, so I guess it is rather confronting for them. As for me, I've worked in the meat processing industry for quite a while so dead animal parts don't bother me at all. At day's end, peeps still need to realise that the animal was raised for slaughter, not as a pet.

December 18, 2011 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger Mustard Moon Farm said...

Jenna, I applaude you for your candid photo and honest post. You are so right....most people have no idea (really) were their meat comes from - they must think it grows on trees, all shrink-wrapped and pretty. Wrong. I'm with you and we raise our own meat here on our little farm. I ensure that all our animals are treated kindly, with respect and they live a great life. When it comes time to harvest, it is done with utmost care and with a sense of gratitude. If people knew how most of *their* meat lived out it's last days, it would turn their stomachs. By raising our own meat (you and I and others like us) we are ensuring proper, humare, ethical care and treatment of the animals we consume. Keep up the good work, Girl-and don't let a few naysayers get you down.
P.S. Thanks for reposting.

December 18, 2011 at 11:36 PM  
Blogger Clare said...

Jenna, I grew up on a farm around butcherings. Uou learn to deal with it.

I think more discernment of the value of publishing the photo might be in order. To me it felt like sensationalism. The blog post was quite well stated without the photo of the hooves being necessary. This is something you learn with experience brought on by the process. Just my humble opinion.

December 19, 2011 at 12:27 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Hells to the Yeah! My spirit is so lifted to read these comments! There are some awakened people out there...Thanks, Jenna, for continuing to show us what you and so many others of us believe in. Keep up the fight!

December 19, 2011 at 6:10 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

On my farm in Maine , your picture made me think of spring. This year we plan to purchase , raise and harvest a calf.We have raised chickens and pigs for the freezer this will be our first beef.My grown daughter is a locavore who lives in Ma.when she visits it will be nice to have fresh local grass fed beef to offer.

December 19, 2011 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger Misty said...

Bravo. Courage in truth.

December 19, 2011 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Jedediah said...

I'm glad you put it back up. I eat meat and only organic meat, but I have never seen an animal butchered. I don't know how well I would deal with it, but it's something I would be willing to try, given the chance. At the very least I can look at a photo of two hooves and remind myself where my meat comes from.

And now I want pea soup with pig trotters.

December 19, 2011 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger Joe and Jeannie Family said...

Like the "P.S. I put it back up...". Good for you! It's your blog, we are just guests. And, I am thankful for your hard work, honesty and candid nature.

December 19, 2011 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Kim Miklos said...

The reason I (and I think alot of others included) read your blog is becuase you have and had the guts to own your own farm, harvest your own food, and do things the way YOU want. We read this because you have done what alot of us want to do but don't. If you don't like it, don't read it. I applaud you Jenna. It is YOUR blog and you do whatever the hell you want. You'll still have the people who love you. And "respect" what you do. Perhaps this is a good way to weed out the unrulies!!!

December 19, 2011 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Kim Miklos said...

The reason I (and I think alot of others included) read your blog is becuase you have and had the guts to own your own farm, harvest your own food, and do things the way YOU want. We read this because you have done what alot of us want to do but don't. If you don't like it, don't read it. I applaud you Jenna. It is YOUR blog and you do whatever the hell you want. You'll still have the people who love you. And "respect" what you do. Perhaps this is a good way to weed out the unrulies!!!

December 19, 2011 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I bet this gets more responses than many other posts you put up.

First 26 years of my life I ate meat. Then I was vegetarian for another 26 years. Recently we went back to eating organic, pastured, grass-fed meat raised by local Amish farmers. Been thinking a lot about these sorts of issues.

I think there is a difference between showing animal hooves and showing a steak, not that there necessarily ought to be. A med school friend of mine told me that, when they take human anatomy in school and dissect a human cadaver, there are two parts of the body that cause a lot more distress among the students than any other part. The first, you might imagine, is the head. But the other one, which was just as difficult, was the hands.

So much of our interaction and understanding of the world, including our most loving and most violent gestures, come through our hands. Our hands with their nifty opposable thumbs, make us human. I think people have a visceral ('scuse pun) reaction to seeing a severed hoof because of its analogous connection to hands. I bet a severed tail or ear wouldn't produce anything like it. I have been to pet stores with bins full of dried pigs ears as chew toys for dogs and no one complained.

Another theory that comes to mind is that the rawness of the severed limb, with its fur and still red blood, bring to mind the image of a recently slaughtered animal and its possible suffering. It is one step closer, if you will, to seeing the animal being slaughtered, which many meat-eating people don't have the stomach to watch (the original reason I became vegetarian years ago).

If I can act as an apologist for your "hypocritical" detractors, I don't think we can expect anyone to be logical or consistent about their tastes or disgusts. We can only ask them to be civil and honest about how they choose to react. Which is what you are doing in this post, and I commend you for it.

Thanks for the Food for Thought.

December 19, 2011 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

This is a blog about farm life, and not the fairy tale farm life you read about in children's books. Many people visiting this blog do so as a precursor to creating a "farm" of their own. You should not shelter us, the readers, from any of the topics or issues that might upset someone. I also agree that as a whole, our society is completely disconnected from the source of our food, be it veggies or meat. I would much rather see 100 posts on your blog about animal "harvesting" than watching the never ending parade of Mack trucks which deliver countless head of cattle and pig to the local slaughterhouses. The horror those animals will likely witness in the factory farms is unthinkable. In the case of your post, I'm sure that cow was loved and cared for with complete compassion, even as it's life was ended. Jenna - keep approaching farm life (and death) topics in the way you do, we are ALL wiser for it. To those who couldn't stomach your post, I hope you seriously consider the source of your next meal and then, find a new blog to follow, because Jenna is one of the most honest and brave individuals on this thing called the internet.
I look forward to the next animal "harvest" post, as it will surely provide additional education and, act as a reminder to the reality of life on a farm.

December 19, 2011 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

I think sometimes posting with a blase attitude about processing animals (in an attempt to make it more "mainstream") sometimes gets people worked up. People who don't like the idea of killing animals may not like phrases like "go watch a cow die" or hearing that a picture of animal feet is no different than a pic of a file cabinet. I understand why you say things like that Jenna, but it may not help people understand where you're coming from.

December 19, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

Thank you for reposting it - I didn't see it the first time around. Those who eat meat, but can't abide seeing the parts we don't (usually) consume, need a reality check. If they're going to ethically justify consuming another animal, they need to realize exactly where their food is coming from and appreciate the sacrifice that animal made.

December 19, 2011 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

What Kristen said..."know that many readers do understand your heart."

December 19, 2011 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I'm glad you put the post back up.

I admit, when I first saw the photo, I was a little disturbed. But I sat down with myself and looked at why I felt that way, and it was simply because of the disconnect most of us feel - I'm not at the point in my journey where I can actually raise animals who will eventually end up on my plate (picturing Tasty the steer in my 20x20 back yard), but I believe that your way of living, including producing your meat in the way that you do, raising it with respect and honor, and dispatching them the same way, is the way I would wish to live.

That being said, thinking that is one thing, and actually seeing the hooves was a bit of another. I think it's something those of us aspiring to this way of life NEED to see to remind us of what goes into a steak dinner.

Please keep writing. The honesty of your blog is what keeps us all coming back.


December 19, 2011 at 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll add my voice to the many before me and say good for you for both your original post, and then putting it back up online. Our culture is way too removed from our food source(s) and a view from a passionate and ethical farmer should be most welcomed. This is exactly why I've decided to start raising chickens for meat and eggs - so my young children have a better understanding of what it takes to produce our food than I ever did growing up.

Thank you for your post!

December 19, 2011 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Karen Rickers said...

You have not done a bad job of sharing your heart. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The picture shocked me just a little ... shocked me a little further into honesty and a truthful perception of the relationship between meat animals raised in a humane way, then harvested, and the food I eat.

December 19, 2011 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Jenna, your post was thoughtful, respectful, and an honest close-up look at the reality of where FOOD comes from. It doesn't mysteriously and magically appear in neat little shrink-wrapped packages at the grocery store. It started somewhere, warm and mucky and breathing, and ended up in that little foam tray after a long and sometimes frightening journey. It is often humbling and necessary to be reminded of that fact, and bless you for doing so in the manner in which you did. Keep it up, farmer!

December 19, 2011 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Rogue Wild said...

I've learned that many people, some of who somewhere inside daydream about raising their food or having a farm experience, don't associate the reality of raising animals with the daydream. To them its fluffy bunnies and cute baby chicks and "omg look at that adorable little goat". They don't want to see the poop, the mud, the dirty straw, or the blood when its time. They know that we're raising the animals for food, but it doesn't fit into their daydream of cuteness. And then, like someone else said, they are a-holes. Thank you for posting honest posts and writing amazing books! xoxo

December 19, 2011 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Jenna, your heart is on your sleeve every day!

December 19, 2011 at 4:13 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Jenna, your heart is on your sleeve every day!

December 19, 2011 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

and so you should put it back up! What point is there in reading a homesteading blog, and dreaming of owning your own farm if cow hooves sicken you? I for one enjoy the reminder that my nourishment ultimately didn't come from a styrofoam tray!! Good for you Jenna, stand for what you believe in.

December 19, 2011 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger m. said...

So many people seem to miss a lot of realities about farming because they do not want to think about them. You put the details about these realities in your blog everyday and it is so much appreciated. I grew up in the city and now live on a farm with my husband, who has always farmed. We raised chickens and sheep. I am still amazed at how often people ask me how I could send my lambs to slaughter. I am currently 9 months pregnant and now people tell me that once I have my own child I will not be able to send the lambs away anymore. They just don't understand that I am not cold-hearted, the lambs go to slaughter because that is what they were raised for and that it their purpose in life.

December 19, 2011 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Emily Helmus said...

Good for you! I was a vegetarian for 6 years and just started eating meat again a few months ago. I just slaughtered my first chickens ever last weekend. Those meat-free years (and even few months as a vegan) have made me appreciate meat so much more! I now know what it takes to get an animal from farm to fork.

I think what it comes down to is that our society isn't comfortable with death. When grandpa dies, he "passes away." We don't want to think of him as dead. We don't want to imagine our food as having a life, be it a sad one on a factory farm or a happy one on a farm like yours. That image may shock but for good reason. If you want to eat meat, you should know what it takes to get the animal from the farm to your dinner plate!

December 19, 2011 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Emily Helmus said...

Oh, and one more thing, I don't think your criticizers should be called hypocritical ass-holes. Death is a touchy subject for anyone, as is food. When food involves death, everyone has strong opinions. Fear comes from the unknown. Those people ought to know their farmers.

December 19, 2011 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Lyssa said...

Once when I was in high school my dad (a mechanic at a large truck yard) and a bunch of the guys from his work all got together to butcher a steer one of them had raised. Each of them took home a foot for their dogs to gnaw at...which they did, thoroughly. The foot turned up again in the spring clean and shiny from where the dogs had buried it in the yard. Thanks for putting the post back up, and rock on.

December 19, 2011 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

Katiegirl, totally agree with all your comments, thank you for voicing the opinions of many.

I think we all vary in levels of sensitivity, and jennas indifference to a dismembered cow doesn't surprise me. It agrees with the tone of her blog.

There's much I don't understand about her mindset towards livestock. Having pigs, I think it odd she only had one last year, or that having 2 this year wasn't a choice made on the pigs having companionship, but her ability to barter. I find it marginally inhumane they are kept in a staple with no exercise area or ability to spend time outdoors or in the sun. A days work with free pallets would provide them a whole new world, but its not a priority. I also feat the answer to the question if her rabbits spend time out of the small cages I've seem in her videos. Raising naturally and humanely is just as important, if not more than the perfectly planned dispatch.

I've read on more than one occasion free ranging the chickens and the freedom it allows is worth the % lost to predation. What about the rabbits ability to stretch their legs or the pigs ability to romp, root in soil, and spend time outside in the sun?

December 19, 2011 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger The Cherry Tree Farm said...

Good for you for putting the post back up! I've lurked around your blog for quite a while, but this stirred me up to the point that I have to comment. This is a subject which intensely frustrates me, and where I think we're behaving so irrationally as a culture (and in fact, hurting ourselves in the meantime).

We raise and eat our own chickens, and very frequently get that "WHAT??" reaction -- from meat eaters. I find it confusing, but as John Seymour says, if someone reacts that way and eats meat, you can assume they are hypocritical and ignore them.

What bothers me even more is our culture's total separation from death -- and our feeling that, to the contrary, we know all about it. We watch television/movie violence, and play violent video games, and consider ourselves very sophisticated. Yet we are totally removed from the basics of death itself. Every year, when discussing an article on horror movies with my College Writing class, I ask the students how many of them have been in the same room when a person died. Out of 25 students, I have never had more than one or two raise their hands. The question, "Who watches action/violent movies, or plays violent video games?" gets a response more like 70% (and this is in a private, religiously-based college, where the students are often from quite religiously conservative homes).

I point out to them that my grandmother (born in 1897) by my age (36) had laid out any number of bodies of neighbors/family who had died at old and young ages (if you are doing math, yes, my family layout is weird). And that 800 years ago, all the young men in the room would likely already have been to battle in some sort of tribal or national warfare. That up until 70 years ago or so, most people who died were laid out in their own home, and prepared for burial by their own family members.

I think we "see" more fake-yet-convincing violence on a daily basis than any previous generation, and yet are shocked by actual blood and death to an extent which would make our ancestors hoot with laughter.

I appreciate your willingness to present the farming life in all its beauty, sorrow and reality. Keep going. (And I'm sorry about the book I've written here.)

December 19, 2011 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

Jenna, we just harvested our steer last weekend. There were 6 shareholders whom were to have taken part in this hands on process. By the time harvest day rolled around, 3 had dropped out, then one dropped out the day of. It does indeed take some courage to take an active roll in feeding yourself. It was some of the most physically exhausting work that I have done over two days. This was done on a primitive teaching farm and was all hand work. I also spent the rest of the week rendering tallow and making bone broth from the large bones, grinding burger and slicing beef for the freezer. It kicked my ass. I have family members who disagree that I should have participated, and all of them eat beef. What to do? By gosh none of this beast will go to waste on my watch. This is why we give thanks over our meals. Folks should remember these living animals the next time they let a package of hamburger spoil in the fridge.

Some would rather pretend that their steak comes from a freezer case, with no feet attached. You cannot fix their opinions. Press on farm-girl, press on. This is where beef will always come from.

December 19, 2011 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Donna Lovesthe Farm said...

I truly appreciate your writing and how you can put into words that which I can only feel. I will credit you for giving me strength to harvest our chickens and pigs. I never thought that I would be able to raise pigs and then be able to take them to the abattoir, have them killed, and then be able to eat them without remorse. But after reading your post about raising and harvesting your pig last year, you showed me another perspective to the process. To give my animals a good life and feel gratitude towards them rather than pity. You have helped me with an important part of becoming a farmer.

December 20, 2011 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Yarrow said...

amen, sister. people need to see and recognize that this is what it means to eat meat. and sustainably grown & harvested meat is the farthest thing from callous: it is a clear and open-eyed engagement with the fact that we are carnivores. vegetarianism is a very ethical response, but most people don't choose it, and if you're gonna eat it, you should see it, in my book. or grow and harvest it yourself, better still. (we raise and process all our own poultry, and buy our beef from another local farm with more acreage; we'll get goats for milk & meat next year).

a recent poem on the topic:

kat heatherington

i forgive myself for choosing to be a predator.
for sharp teeth and an active imagination.
for killing my meat, in an age when
killing is a luxury, not a need.
i forgive myself for raising
birds to be slaughtered,
and for doing the slaughtering.
for the gasping opened beak
and warm blood running down my hands,
for indifference to the final shudder,
the hard wing-flapping death,
the open eye i do not meet
until it glazes.
for preying upon other life,
and planning it.
for being a part of the cycle,
and doing the dirty work,
and owning up to it,
and teaching others.
and, when the work is done,
the blood washed off,
the last eye closed,
for delighting in the savor
of the meat.

December 20, 2011 at 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh good grief. How funny to read this post in light of recent events on our homestead...

Today I finally took away my dog's "pet" pig's foot. It was from one of our pigs and I'd had the butcher send them to us b/c I thought I could use them for dog food. My dog has been eating raw for years and even some pig's feet but this was the first time she got one with a foot attached to the hock (basically the intact lower leg).

For whatever reason she wouldn't eat it. Instead, she carted it around our large deck for days. She slept with it until I would force her inside for the night (she is not an outside dog). She was getting really weird about it, but that turned to obsessive and she was trying to attack the poor cat whenever he'd go in and out of his cat door (beneath which, there would be my dog curled up protectively against her pig leg). Today I decided her relationship with said leg was getting unhealthy and so I tossed it.

So you can see that having spent a few days with a severed pig's leg sitting on the deck outside our door and watching my dog cuddle it like a teddy bear, the reaction you got to posting a picture of the cow's feet made me giggle and shake my head at how far I've come from my suburban upbringing. I prefer this life because it keeps me real. You're real, too, Jenna. I'm glad you put the post back up.

December 20, 2011 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I am one of the people who were offput at seeing the cow feet, though I didn't leave a comment to that effect. It's surprising that I had that reaction, however, because I volunteer at a raptor center where I'm constantly handling chopped up/half eaten mice, rats, and quail so death no longer disturbs me. Maybe I was a little put off because I'm not used to seeing such large dead animal parts. No, I think it's in seeing the cut off feet that is disturbing to me. Feet are important to all animals - humans included. The stark reality that this cow will no longer enjoy the feel of green grass or soft earth under those feet made me a little sad. I know you respect the animals that feed you, as do I, but your readers are not privy to experiencing the entire life cycle as you are. Seeing one photo out of this cow's entire life - the cut off feet - is somehow irreverent to me. I'm not chastising you - you're doing a great job of showing where our food comes from - just letting you know how it comes across to me. Anyway, that's my take.

December 21, 2011 at 3:48 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

I've been catching up on my blogs and when I read this one I was disappointed that you felt the need to take the post down - then delighted that you had put it back up. I grew up on a farm where we raised most of our own food. The photograph of the feet and the post were as respectful as you can possibly be.

People, especially children, need to understand that their meat doesn't come from the grocery store packed in styrofoam and plastic, that it was a living being. They have NO IDEA.

Unfortunately they are also the ones that have issues with blogs of this type. Ignorance with blinders is how I see it. Our animals always had good lives with plenty of fresh air, sunshine, feed and clean water. They were free to roam their large pastures and were well taken care of. You can taste it in the meat as you are well aware.

I don't believe our food system will change until everyone knows where their food comes from and how it got to our tables. Unfortunatly they don't really want to know and criticize you for telling them.

It was a good post and you should leave those up despite the criticism.

December 21, 2011 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger MamaFox said...

Meat is one of those sensitive issues that if you think too hard about, it will make you crazy. It's easier to be ignorant. I'm on that path now & am sometimes. I get so overwhelmed at the thought of butchering one of the babies a mother animal will birth for us. I am a mama & can not even conceive what I would do if someone killed & ate my babies. I was vegan for a long time. My main goal now is to be able to provide food for my family, come what may. I think your post was realistic & tasteful. I really appreciate posts like this. It helps prepare me for what will hopefully be something I can do in a few more years. Don't let folks get you down, you're kicking ass.

December 22, 2011 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger . said...

As a vegetarian in a family of omnivores, I can tell you that I, for one, was NOT offended in any way by the photo or the post. (I'm also really glad that you decided to put it back up!) I think many have become so disassociated from where their food comes from, that they find it unnerving when they're reminded.

December 27, 2011 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger iliketogarden said...

Glad you put it back up.


December 27, 2011 at 8:26 PM  

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