Things With Faces

23 May

A friend recently roasted an entire pig to celebrate his birthday.  His soon to be step-son made the connection that meat used to alive and walking around, and he has now decided to become a vegetarian.

As the unofficial pork and barbecue expert in our group, I was asked to be involved.  Not in the making of a vegetarian, in the roasting of the pig.  This was a first for me.  Not only my first whole pig, but my first time cooking something with a face.  It was a little unnerving to look at the dead animal’s eyes as I was covering it with rub and placing over the pit we had constructed.  It had eyes and toes and teeth.  I can easily see how a person could be so moved as to give up meat after such an experience.

But it was just too delicious to pass up.  And there is just something primally enjoyable about gnawing charred flesh from a bone.  We are far too civilized in my opinion.

Besides, the animal was already dead.  It was a locally raised pig, we were told, from an ethical pig farmer who did not use high density feed lots.  I was comfortable dining on the flesh of such an animal.  I have been trying to eat more responsibly, researching growers and farms, finding sources for responsible meat.  This is difficult at times, and rather expensive.  We eat a lot less meat these days, but the quality more than makes up for it.

For some time I have been saying that there is an enormous disconnect between our food’s source and our plate.  Meat comes from the store, wrapped in paper.  Milk comes in jugs(plastic ones, not my preferred fleshy jugs<ok, milk does come from those but I am not interested in pouring it on my frosted flakes>).  Eggs come in cartons.

We do not like to think about where our food comes from, we have spent far too long not knowing, and it has become distasteful.

I don’t want my children to have that kind of disconnect, I don’t want them to grow up thinking that food comes in little cardboard boxes.  Just add hot water and stir.

Which is why we are getting chickens.

I’ve wanted chickens for some time now.  Eggs are perhaps my favorite source of protein, and farm-fresh eggs are definitely in my top five favorite foods, with Brick Oven Pizza, a Charcoal Grilled Garlic Burger, a Really Damn Good Grilled Cheese and a Peach fresh off the tree.

A few years ago, while working as a carpenter, my boss and I were building a garage for my cousin who happens to keep chickens.  He also happens to be a vegetarian who won’t eat eggs (don’t ask me to explain why he keeps chickens).  Every day he would send us home with a carton of fresh eggs.  White and brown and even blue and green.  My boss had never in his life eaten a brown egg.  To him, eggs were white.  He was very brave and tried a brown egg, but could not bring himself to eat a green or blue one, even knowing rationally that what was inside was exactly the same.  It was simply too far outside of his experience for him to be comfortable with it.

My kids fought over who got the blue and green eggs.

I decided I wanted chickens too.  And while talking about it with the family, my oldest daughter, who was six at the time, made the connection that chicken(meat) and chicken(bird) were one and the same.  She refused to eat chicken anymore.  I patiently explained that the dumb bags of meat that are grown for consumption are not the same as the clever, funny, and cute birds people keep as pets.  Crisis averted, burgeoning vegetarianism nipped in the bud.  She still devours chicken with gusto.

That event did cement my resolve to get chickens.  I want my daughters to see where some of their food comes from.  We have a garden, and they eat the produce they see growing there.  They will have to help care for the chickens, and they will collect the eggs from beneath them.

I do not plan on slaughtering any of my chickens.  They will be pets, not food.  And I do not plan on getting a pig or turkey to fatten up.  I doubt my own resolve.  I do not think I could look an animal in the eye, one that I had raised and fed and watched play, and then either kill it or deliver it to be slaughtered.  I have been too civilized, I have been far to disconnected from my food.

And I am ok with that.

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4 Responses to “Things With Faces”

  1. Kasini May 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    and, uh, just what are you planning to do when those chickens become sick, or old, or cannibals, my friend? He who keeps chickens must eventually cut the heads off them. Or deliver them unto one who does.

    Which is why I let my parents take care of the chickens and just manipulated them into giving me their eggs. 😀

    • Myrddwn May 24, 2011 at 7:40 am #

      I am certain I can swing the ax when necessary, I do not, however, wish to clean entrails and doubt I could then eat an animal I had kept as a pet.

    • Bayani June 6, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

      That’s what the Veterinarian is for. They pull the trigger when I cannot. ❤

  2. Myrddwn June 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    And now I have started thinking about bees…
    I don’t know if it is just because it is spring(and so bees and swarms are in the news), or if keeping them is increasing in popularity(just like chickens) or if I am simply that much more interested in urban farming and local food, but everywhere I turn lately I come across back yard bee keeping.
    Apparently keeping bees is pretty damn easy, is quite rewarding, and is possible on the small lot I have. And honey is just so damn yummy.
    I -might- be able to wait till next spring, wanting to devote this spring/summer to getting the chickens settled in. But if a swarm becomes available, I can whip out a top-bar beehive in a weekend to house it.

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