Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Animal rites

A month ago I became very aware that what I was eating was once alive. We had ribs at someone's house and it occurred to me that I was eating something that once supported the body of the animal, protected it's organs and made it stable on it's feet. This past weekend we went out to the farm for dinner and saw 2 cows in the barnyard that were separated from the others in the field. It was a mother and her bull. They were going to auction the next day. In the bovine world it is the female that is valued over the male, and so the bull's fate was sealed. It's mother was very large, much larger than the usual largeness of a Hereford, and had been wheezing like an asthmatic. My father felt it was time for her to go, before vet bills surpassed the value of the actual animal.

It was upsetting. L gave the mother some corn we had husked and she ate an apple sitting on a bale of hay by the gate. Her calf ran around as she ate her so called last supper. It was too much. I had been around animals on the farm before that were shipped for food. My pigs, the chickens, and even cows we raised from calves became food my mother prepared for her family. I was sad at times, but I was aware that this was how my family lived. My parents didn't think twice about the two cows that grazed in the barnyard as we ate our dinner together. That's what farm life entails.

Could I become a vegetarian? I don't know. I began to think that I could give up eating anything that has 4 legs, but would eat things with wings and fins. Is that hypocritical? A woman who attended the same hospice group as me talked about having her mother's dog put down that spring, since her mother's wishes were to be united with her dog. Of course, her mother ended her life. Why should she destroy the animal's life too?

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