Some of you will know how much I like animals. I adore and love my pets. I also like the idea of being self-sufficient, buying organic and I dream of raising and growing my own. I love the idea of knowing where the veg and meat I eat has come from and ensuring it has had the best life possible before it reaches my plate.
A couple of years ago, in addition to our two dogs we got some ducks and chickens. We had 6 chickens and 3 ducks. Today our 9 has become 8. This morning one of my chickens seemed poorly and within a few hours she had died. I cried a lot. I cried when I found out she was poorly and I cried after I discovered she had died. It all happened so quick. I was far more emotional about it than I thought I would be. I’ve seen and experienced my fair share of death, both humans and pets. But I was devastated. Our chickens and ducks are first and foremost pets. They produce fresh eggs daily, which I love. You can’t beat a fresh poached egg from your own backyard.
Am I therefore a hypocrite, that I felt it was a waste that we didn’t eat our recently passed chicken? Obviously we don’t know what she died of, so we didn’t want to risk eating her. We couldn’t bury her in the garden due to not having much room between the bird enclosure and the space we have for the dogs. Plus there’s also the fact the dogs would probably just dig her up. It’s bin day tomorrow, need I say more.
I thought I was more detached from the birds, but my reaction to one of their deaths clearly shows they have had more of an effect on me than I initially thought. I knew that they wouldn’t be around forever and that if they got sick and were in pain, we’d do the right thing. One of the ducks a few months back damaged her eye. Every morning and evening we bathed her eye in sterile water to make sure it was clean and hoped it would get better. It did. The fact we nursed it back to health was a great feeling. This morning, I thought the chicken would get better, it did not. I’m told that chickens dropping dead is quite a common thing. Birds in general get stressed quite easily and many different things can effect their health. Ducks are slightly more hard wearing. Chickens are more sensitive to their surroundings.
But I am a meat eater. I eat chicken all the time. How can I differentiate between the bought chicken breasts in my fridge and the chickens in my garden? If I truly do want to be self-sufficient I will have to kill my birds for food. Theoretically I told myself I could do this. That I would be able to distance myself from those birds and know they were table birds. I would still provide them with a good life, but ultimately I would end up taking it away from them. Does that make me a bad person? I couldn’t do it if it was the dogs, why are chickens different? They are intelligent, they all have individual personalities and can also be quite affectionate.
I’m conflicted. I love having chickens and ducks as pets. But I also believe that they can provide me with both eggs and meat. And I would much rather raise and grow my own then line the pockets of the commercial industry and giant supermarket chains. Can I have the best of both worlds and have a guilty free conscience? I guess that is yet to be seen.