Since realising that our dream to move onto land and live a more semi-sustainable life has been apparent, what was dwelling in the forefront of our mind was just how sustainable we wanted to be. We knew that growing our own vegetable produce, planting small scale orchards and having chooks were a given. What we weren't sure about was the choices about our meat. What would we do once the chickens stops laying? What about hunting and foraging?
Well, the answer came to us during our weekend at Whole Larder Love Workshop. We learnt about the reality of being sustainable enough to dispatch our own chickens once they are no longer productive with egg laying. The husband is in the process of getting a gun licence that will allow him to shoot wild rabbit, a meat that is perfect addition to our diet, tastes fabulous and helps cut the number of these introduced species in the area. We learnt how to skin, gut and butcher the rabbit, knowing how to cook which cuts and also how to assess the meat for quality. All practical, hands on learning.
The emotional lead up to our first time killing a chicken was complex. As a meat eater, I was still very naive about the whole process, but by comparison also about the treatment of the chickens that are available in the supermarkets. The chickens we killed came from an organic farm, just down the road. They had lived a good life, with loads of freedom for them to produce wonderful organic eggs. Once their productivity declined, their meat is still edible even though these birds are much older than their supermarket counterparts. A chook like this needs different cooking techniques because of age difference, but still is wonderful meat. Nothing is wasted besides the internal organs as the bones have made the most delicious stock.
When it was my turn to take a live chicken out of the cage, turn it upside down in the killing cone and slice the jugular, snap the neck and end it's life, I knew it wouldn't be easy. I doubted my ability, my resolve and whether I could actually do it. My heart was pounding, my head thinking the whole time of what to do, my hands slightly shaky. It wasn't easy...but it probably never will be easy, just something I get used to doing. It was wonderful having such a supportive group of people, all encouraging one another through our emotional turmoil. Once the bird is plucked of all it's feathers it begins to look recognisably like the chicken you buy for roasting, and are comfortable with seeing...It's just getting to that point that was so unfamiliar. We learnt how to pluck the feathers after submerging in a hot water bath and the gutting was such an experience (nose pegs recommended).
I learnt a new skill which I believe I can apply to our way of life on our land. Reducing food miles, not relying solely on supermarkets and how knowing how the meat has been cared for and treated is all important.
I learnt a valuable lesson in the reality of our goal towards sustainability.
Do you have dreams and goals towards sustainability? What are they?