Today I did something I was really not comfortable with, which is in part largely why I did it (it’s probably going to make some of you uncomfortable as well, so be forewarned). I visited an abattoir and brought with me an ewe to be turned into 100lbs or so of ground mutton meat for dog food.
I should begin by saying that I do not have any ethical qualms about being a meat eater – lots of animals eat other animals, and I happen to be one of those meat-eating animals. I respect that there is a food chain and I don’t feel the need to opt out of it for any moral argument. I respect the people who do choose to live and eat differently as well. I do have a problem with the way we raise our meat animals and the whole factory farming issue, but have not found a way to circumvent it completely.
But my biggest personal issue is that I am part of a generation of people who think their meat comes from Safeway and I don’t want to bury my head in that la-la land. I have a lot of pets who eat a lot of meat, and I feel it’s important – for me – to remember that they (and I) are eating animals that were born and lived and died for that reason. So from time to time, I explore the “real” subject of killing to consume, like when I raised and slaughtered meat birds. Recently, I taught myself to skin rabbits (when the apocalypse comes, I will be set).
So when I acquired some sheep recently, which I am not allowed to keep on my property because my previous crazy neighbours ruined livestock keeping for my landlord, I traded away two of them to a friend for the aforementioned freezer full of rabbit (they were already dead), and took the third to the abattoir for – ahem – “processing.”
I slept poorly last night, and was full of reluctance about my decision, for reasons I still can’t quite work out. I wondered if I should just give my friend the third ewe (she’s keeping them to lamb them out next year), and kept picturing her sheepie face … I am not even very fond of sheep, and ate lamb just the other day for lunch. And I recognized that thousands – millions even – of sheep are slaughtered all around the world every year for food. If I am willing to eat them, and feed them to my dogs, I shouldn’t be squeamish about how they live and die.
So this afternoon I loaded the ewe into the back of my van and made the long drive out to the abattoir in Chilliwack. It was probably not a lovely trip for her – she was nervous without her friends, and minivans are not ideal transport for livestock. And when we got out to the slaughterhouse, she was scared as f*ck. So was I. It smelled bad (though it was clean) and there were pigs screaming somewhere inside. I got the sheep out of the van and when she hit the ramp she folded like a shitty old deck chair, down on her knees and refused to move (although it may have been exhaustion trying to keep her balance for an hour in the back of the moving vehicle). I managed to get her up again and lead her down a row of stark (though again clean) metal pens full of pigs, manipulated her into one of them, and left her there.
And I felt a bit sick. I’m not sure I could do it again. My feelings on eating meat, and feeding it to my dogs, has not changed but I definitely did not enjoy the experience of visiting the abattoir. Conversely, I am excited about receiving 100+lbs of food for the dogs from a pasture raised ewe this week. I am conflicted, not about eating and feeding meat, but about a stand-up quality I feel I’m lacking. I strive to be braver, and face the consequences of my choices, which is why I did this, but I really don’t want to do it again.
So there you go. Once step closer to being someone I am proud of, someone who is real and planted in the world in which I live, and consume.
Something else that is real: Dexter has done something to his hind leg (or foot, or hip, or knee or groin – who the f*ck knows) and is tripodding all over the place. Six weeks BEFORE BLOODY REGIONALS, OF COURSE!!! I have sort of been pretending it’s nothing much and that it’s just a coincidence that I have chosen to leash walk him for the past few days, and convinced myself so well that I let him run around tonight.
Which was a mistake, naturally, as he is limping / tripodding worse than ever now. I know I have to take him into the vet, but I like my vet and don’t want to punch him in the face when he gives me dire news like, oh, “He’s torn his ACL.” Actually, I don’t think he has, I think he’s pulled something. And he’s back to leash only walking.
I don’t have enough hands for all the leashes I’m going to need. In the morning, when it’s still too dark to walk on the property, I walk my dogs on the dead end road. All three little dogs are on leash (because coyotes) and now I have a new (temporary) 4th leash denizen:
Ermigawd, amiright?? Totes is a 9 week old “yorkiepoo” or maybe yorkie/maltese. An ACO brought her in stray, and nobody ever called about her. How does this happen? She’s like a whopping 4 lbs. And she makes Wookie noises.
I don’t like to leave tiny baby puppies at the shelter, so I bring them home. The other dogs probably wish I wouldn’t.
Mostly because they never seem to leave, RHUMBA.
185 days and counting. I don’t understand why nobody knows how marvelous Rhumba is, and why she can’t find her own home :(
Though she likes it here. She and Fae are besties :)
I also can’t believe that this guy is going to be 15 in nine days!
Maybe for his birthday I can find our two houseguests a home. Because it’s not like anyone can resist this face: