Wednesday, May 15, 2013

reality of sufficiency

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?



Steph @ this brown wren said...

Such a remarkable experience! Thanks so much for sharing it all lovely friend. We could pack it all up and move to some land where we could embrace this kind of lifestyle in an instance. Just have to come up with a way to work from home. Mmmm the cogs are turning. Hope your week is lovely :) x

Tania said...

Good on you Brenda. I think such a course would be fascinating. Though it is not pretty, and I haven't actually experienced the killing with my own hands, I have watched skinning and gutting before. Luca even got to skin a rabbit last year. We have the same dream to be as self sufficient as you possible can be on an acre. It all takes time though. But I think as meat eaters we all need be faced with the realism and so gain a greater appreciation of the food we eat. We love rabbit here too :)

Anonymous said...

Inspiring Brenda. I'm yet to kill my first chook - but its something I plan to do one day. Part of me worries I won't be able to do it - or do it 'properly' - so I imagine a workshop with Ro would be a supportive environment for a first time. and p.s. This is my first time visiting your blog. I've followed you for a while on instagram - and so glad I visited here. My 9 acres sounds very much like your 13 acres. We moved into a shed on our block a few months ago. I'm starting on the veggie garden & chooks and like yours our block is 'nestled amoungst mountains and close to a historic town bustling with vineyards and stunning beauty'. Looking forward to following your journey.

mama bear said...

Very, very honest and inspiring post. I would love to write more here in my comment but I've got a newborn and if I don't jot something down now I never may! Thank you for sharing this, I think it's important for us to understand where our food comes from, especially the thought that the animals we eat are definitely not treated so kindly.

posie blogs Jennie McClelland said...

Just fantastic. Exactly what we want to do. Live wholly. I bet those chickens tasted amazing. We will also do rabbits & tan their pelts, create them into something amazing too. I know people struggle with being a bunny lover & eating rabbit or wearing fur, but it's a reality & lack of waste. Love Posie

Unknown said...

Amazing!! This is a side of life that many don't want to know about. We are very blind in our supermarket isles. I am so amazed at your bravery and your heart for beautiful treatment of animal in our bid of sufficiency. Thank you for sharing this with us. I am going to feature this article in my September The Beast Link Magazine on my blog.

Unknown said...

Hi Brenda, just popping over from All That Is Beautiful to let you know that I have featured this post of yours in my lates issue of The Beast - All That Is Beautiful Link Magazine. I think what you showed us was a real truth and honest. I think your care for the treatment of animals is so very important and I wanted my readers to think about a real truth that our meat does come from the sacrifice of animals and care is important no matter how confronting. Walking in the meat isle shows none of this truth. Your post brings such awareness. Thank you.

katef said...

Such an honest and wonderful post.

I know killing your own meat is not for everyone... it is something I still find difficult even after 5 years and most often leave that part to my husband. But we routinely kill and process our own chickens and our children have grown up knowing this and are not old enough to help with plucking etc. We have decided that if we can not learn to do this, and do it well, then we should not be eating meat of any kind.

Good on you for tackling a difficult subject with much empathy and understanding