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Tender Heart, Bully Bird

September 15, 2012

I needed to get rid of Honey, my alpha chicken. She was terrorizing the flock, endangering the runt, and dropping egg production to a virtual halt. After much consideration I decided to give her away on Craigslist. The thing is, I didn’t want to set someone else’s flock up for bullying, so yesterday evening I advertised her as ‘Chicken for Dinner’ – picture included.

My post only lasted a few hours. It was flagged and removed, and someone sent an email saying I would probably be hearing from the PETA.

I must admit I’m flabbergasted. 23 million chickens are slaughtered every day in the U.S., most of which live in conditions far worse than Honey has experienced. What makes me the villain? Why should I be singled out for derision?

A quick bit of online research showed the local spectrum of feelings regarding chicken slaughter. The vegans condemned all animal consumption, the moderates preached ‘humane killing,’ and the carnivores scoffed at the entire argument. And yet everyone seemed to have some cultural basis to back up their viewpoint. Or is that bias?

I got one bite before my ad was pulled. Someone messaged to ask if they could pick the chicken up immediately – and if it was a boy or a girl (warning sign number one). I told them to call and I’d give out my address. They never did, which made me wonder about their agenda. Was it an animal liberator? A vindictive vegan? A whistle-blower?

The fact is, there’s nothing illegal about slaughtering your own bird within city limits – I checked. And chances are backyard poultry owners will approach the process with more compassion than mega-corporations. So I ask again: what’s the difference?

When you buy meat in stores you’re disconnected from the cycle of life and death. You can enjoy the meal without ever picturing the animal it came from, its quality of life, or its day of demise. Most people are happy to do this. It’s what my friend Jeremiah calls the ‘Latex Syndrome.’ Humans will put up with any amount of filth as long as there’s an impermeable barrier between it and themselves. Just follow a dog walker around the city for an hour to get a firsthand example. It’s the same with eating meat; people don’t want to know about the animal’s life. The moment it’s forced into their consciousness they react with disgust and anger and shift the blame to the nearest possible target – in this case, myself.

Very well. I won’t repost my ad. I’ll find another way to deal with Honey. Of course I could butcher her myself – it would fall in line with urban homesteading and my desire to reconnect with natural processes. But my daughter has a tender heart and would have a hard time with it, and Honey is three years old anyway – she would probably be tough and stringy. So I need an alternate solution.

As it happens, one has presented itself. Next weekend I’m going to bring Honey out to a friend’s farm in the country. She’ll be able to range freely. There are chickens on the farm already so I don’t know how it will pan out, but it’s a good step. Omelet (the runt) will be safe, and if Honey continues her bullying ways there are many farmers in the area who won’t have any reservations about turning her into soup.

Problem solved, and I haven’t heard a word from the PETA. I guess they have bigger fish to fry. Ahem.


From → Journal

  1. Prana permalink

    That ahem made me laugh! Prana

  2. The ahem made me laugh, too. This sums up so many of the paradoxes of modern life that I struggle with — namely my own cowardice about slaughtering what I eat — and unwillingness to emotionally connect with the alternatives. And this is a great example of your great titles! : )

  3. Thanks friends! This puts me in mind of a scene in Douglas Adams’s (admittedly silly) novel ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe,’ in which an animal comes to table and describes the finest parts of its body – the finest to eat, that is – after which the diners get to choose. Then it goes to the kitchen for butchering. Another writer’s way of highlighting the paradox!

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