Saturday, 17 May 2014

food responsibility, ducks, cricket and cat-mint

Today's quiet day puttering about at home started off okay; but then rapidly descended in to agricultural chaos.

I've weeded the asparagus; caught and killed the escaped rabbit that was eating the strawberries and the spinach; set the mincer up so that B could mince the rabbit; taken a small girl to see the very tiny rabbits and helped her cuddle one; entertained a visitor for tea; sold two pullets; and showed the buyers round my parent stock.

Entertaining the visitor involved getting her to help me catch the duck that had flown across the road on to the cricket pitch, much to the village team's amusement. Luckily they had already broken for tea. 'Duck stopped play' probably doesn't happen very often anywhere else - I'll be clipping her wing this evening.

Rabbit capture/killing also involved comforting a small boy who witnessed the execution. It was badly thought out on my part - I was so stressed about the rabbit squirming away again, as it's done a couple of times over the past week - that I killed it immediately I got my hands on it, rather than attempting to keep hold of it and move away from him. He was very upset and after I had handed it off to B, I sat on the ground with him in my lap and we talked about it.

He was upset because it had squealed. If you've heard a rabbit make that noise, you know it's awful. I hate killing them, partly for that reason. We are open about the fact that we raise and kill the animals to eat; but up until now, he has never seen it happening. He is on board, in the abstract, with the idea that some animals are 'livestock' and they don't have names and they may end up on a plate; and some animals are 'pets' and have names and that won't happen to them. And he knew, logically, that the rabbits came in to the former category.

By the end of the conversation, he was telling me that he *knew* some animals are livestock and we eat them. But he hadn't like the noise it had made and he didn't want to eat that one. And I told him that that was fine, it was his choice whether to eat meat or not.

I wonder, is this something that all children go through, probably to a lesser extent? Realising that the meat on your plate is from a living thing is a big thing, whether or not you are as a close to the process as we are.

I was vegan for a while in my twenties, because I couldn't reconcile eating meat with my abhorrence for preparing it. I felt that if I was going to eat it, I should be prepared to kill and prepare it myself at best; and at the very least, know about every single step of it's journey to my plate.

I told the small boy that we know that the meat we eat has led the best life it is possible for an animal to live. And that he doesn't need to eat it if he doesn't want to; and that I was wrong not to tell him that I was going to kill the rabbit; and that I should have taken it away so he didn't have to see.

And then we went and picked some cat-mint to see if we could get the cat to chase it and start drooling like his Auntie's cat does.

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