We have had this really cool and amazing August. Too cool for tomatoes, just right for me, except this morning when my shorts seemed like a bad choice for camp wear as I shivered under the blankets in our station wagon nest.
We’ve had predator attacks in the field where the turkeys, goslings, and chickens are pastured. After many traps were set and guns loaded, today we caught the predator in the act. A great horned owl, it seems, a hoo-hooing down our ravine being chased by crows. Its tally of death was 3 chickens, and it is now time for us to consider all options on how to protect our domestic poultry from this wild bird of prey.
Even we, who are working with permaculture principals and pasturing our animals on organic fields, can be preyed upon by the wild animals who do not know how eco-friendly we are, and I can only guess that they would not give a shit, to boot. Or, they would shit out the bones and feathers of our flocks if possible.
But I wanted to write about another kind of death. The kind of death that we choose for our animals.
We kill our animals (chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, goats) as humanely as we know how to. They live happy lives outside with cozy shelters, fed with organic grains and all kinds of natural treats. They die here, where they lived, without the stress fear of transportation. We butcher them ourselves, mostly, and we use most of the animal for food, for hoof to snout. The guts go to our dogs, and I am trying to learn how to tan hides and make bone handled knives. This is what human beings have been doing for a long damn time.
Meanwhile, you have the new paradigm of folks who know nothing of the natural cycles of life, bemoaning the horror of the death of any living creature. I would invite them to feast their shaded eyes on nature. While perhaps not being red in tooth and claw all the time, it does not have a morality in the sense that we understand morality, it exists independently of human thought constructs. While we perceive an owl ripping our chickens apart as bad (and it is tangibly bad for us [and the chicken] in many ways) this is what nature has evolved. Our unnatural acts of farming exacerbate issues with predators and pests endlessly. So I don’t think the healthy answer is to constantly be in defense mode.
As a Kung Fu Farmer, I have to work within the framework of doing the best I can. All we can really do is do the best we can with what we have, where we are. There is really nothing else to do, and perhaps this is the essence of being present in the moment. So I can’t say, if only the world was perfect I would eat only hazelnuts and blueberries, because there is no “if only” in the present, there is just “what is”.
So what is? My job is to drive off the predator and protect my flock. The owls job is to eat our flock.
Is it strange that some hunters and fisherfolk have a better understanding of the natural world then some conservationists or vegetarians? I don’t think it is strange to live in connection to the natural world, from which all of our food, shelter, sustenance and happiness comes from. I think it is strange when others tell me how awful it is to raise animals in a caring manner in a natural way and then to kill them and eat them. What is more natural?