Friday, January 04, 2008

A Sacrifice

As I was driving to town yesterday to get some hay I passed a familiar scene. There was a steer in a pen with a generous heap of hay to eat while his field companion looked on from the near distance.

I’ve watched these two steers since they were weanlings. They contently wandered the field eating at their pasture. They had no idea was to happen next as the mobile slaughter truck backed up to the pen. One of them was going away forever.

I’ve seen slaughter before and I’ve done it myself. There is a certain attitude of reverence that anyone who does this must have. We want it to go down without trauma.

Mobile slaughter is probably the best way to go since your animal isn’t jostled and hauled away long distances and have to line up in a death march with hundreds of other animals. Instead it is given its last meal and handled respectfully. It is all over in an instant.

Cows are herd animals, so I’m sure his field mate will be upset tonight. We had to put a horse down two years ago. Horses are also herd animals. My horse who was her companion was upset for several days. It was more of a worry than a grieving. My horse was present when we put her down, but seemed to keep wondering why her friend wasn’t returning and calling out for her every once in a while.

Even the slaughter of chickens can be non traumatic. Rather than the old way of using an axe and a chopping block and having the chicken run around without its head, we now use killing cones. These are cone shaped metal containers that is either suspended by legs or bolted to a building or fence. You place the chicken in the cone head first. Its body is cradled by the wide part of the cone and its head and neck protrude through the opening on the small end pointing downward. This position seems to calm the chicken down. Then one takes a very sharp knife and in one fast cut the chicken in beheaded and left in the cone to bleed out.

Back to the steer mentioned above, as I returned home nearly a half hour later with my load of hay the slaughter truck was already leaving the farm. Within that half hour that steer was killed and on the rack in the truck. The job was finished and the steer was off to be butchered.

I have a lot of respect for people who can do that sort of work. Though it may become routine for someone after a while in that profession; I always see them act professionally, gently and most of all compassionately.

The next time you eat meat, please consider where it came from. There was once a living creature who gave its all just so you may be nourished.


Blogger Beth said...

Will do.
Still (and always) learning from your blog.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

God, Guy, you are going to get some interesting comments on this article. Good luck!

7:57 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

Food for thought. I'm glad to know the stockyards have a more human alternative.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Thats what I like about my brand of farming;never having to say goodbye.

8:38 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Happy to share with you, Beth.

Auntie, I think enough readers have been introduced to the Meatrix and Store Wars so this subject doesn't really come out of the blue. That's a cool thing about blogging, drive past something and an hour later I'm writing my impressions.

Lori, it's one of the things that makes small scale agriculture superior to factory farming.

Gearhead, let's hope that is true for you this winter. My version doesn't have the same outcome.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Uncle Walt said...

Hahn - "I'm glad to know the stockyards have a more human alternative."

I'm hoping you meant humane, and not talking about butchering humans. lol

I remember my neighbor, when I was in elementary school, used to slaughter pigs by lifting them off the ground by their hind legs, slitting their throats, and letting them bleed out.

They also slaughtered chickens the "old fashioned" way. I was fascinated how a "dead" animal could still run around - and figured that meant zombies could be real.

Wonder if anybody has purposefully tried to duplicate the feat of Mike the Headless Chicken.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Chantel said...

I came by to say Happy New Year to you and thanks for visiting my site regularly. However, you've been pretty morbid since the new year with the death pool and now this.
Must be a function of our age eh?

Take Care

2:43 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mike was quite the chicken. He was pretty high maintenance though.

Chantel, hey we almost got Britany Spears last night. She ended up in a psych ward used for attempted suicides. I'm not always morbid because readers keep me in line when I go off the deep end. I'll be less so for the next week or so...I think I can promise that.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes true...thanks for the nudge.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

My truck broke down once next to a farm house. As I walked through the yard to knock on their door, I noticed a pig with a wooden leg. The farmer answered the door and was more than happy to let me use his telephone. Unable to hold back my curiosity, I asked him about the pig with the wooden leg. He answered that the pig had once saved the family when the house caught on fire by waking them up with his squealing. That didn't answer so my question, so I pressed on. The farmer then answered that the pig had once saved his life when the tractor he was on flipped, pinning him and the pig alerted the family to his plight. I still didn't get it, and asked what that had to do with the wooden leg. The farmer answered..."A pig like that, you don't eat all at once".

8:36 PM  
Blogger nootka said...

"The next time you eat meat, please consider where it came from. There was once a living creature who gave its all just so you may be nourished."
Exactly. Respect is what it's about. Any other way is unnecessary, and, in the long run, unhealthy for us all.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Yeah. Or you could just NOT eat meat. Like I have since 1990. Regardless of how it's done, my dollar isn't going as a vote towards that kind of thing.

12:44 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mo3, I knew you were going to visit this article. Sorry, but getting protein from soy, beans and peanuts isn't the route I'm going to take.

Nootka, hey everybody a new local blogger. Welcome!

Moosehead, I think that joke was exported to Canada in 1968, and we didn't want it returned.

Trish. just a thought of reverance.

5:57 AM  

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