After a long day at the office I have spent an additional 4 hours on my feet standing at my butcher block with my arms in a lamb carcass. I am exhausted… and have dealt with only one of my two lambs. There’s a lot of trimming, de-boning, and packaging yet to be done….. but I have resolved to leave the second lamb packed in ice and tackle it tomorrow.
I have only just begun to unpack my emotional baggage and sort through my feelings about this entire experience. They are complex indeed.
Some key thoughts:
There is nothing romantic, beautiful, or easy about slaughtering an animal … and even the most “ethical method” is messy and violent. In the end, though, I believe that my lambs’ lives and deaths were better than if they were born on a factory farm, finished in a feed lot, and sent to a large scale slaughterhouse. That is very important to me. I also wanted to witness and help with a slaughter so that I could get face to face with that LIVING, BREATHING, BLEEDING portion of my diet and see for myself what that type of “harvest” was like. I have been far too removed… for far too long.
My thoughts on raising animals for slaughter? Everyone has a birth and everyone has a death, and we all experience our lives as a time line. Occasionally doctors might give us a prognosis and we are suddenly made aware of our time lines…. but usually it’s a Great Secret and we are utterly clueless. These lambs had time lines, too, and a purpose.
I don’t want to hurt animals. Certainly not! But I cannot be a healthy person without meat. Maybe some people can…. but I cannot. Do I need to eat the 220 lbs of meat the average American consumes each year? Heck no. But I believe there’ s a healthy balance there somewhere. Healthy portions, and healthy (grass fed, organic) animals that have been treated with love, care, and respect from birth to death.
I got about 50 lbs of meat from one lamb, which is about 1 lb of lamb meat a week if I divide it throughout the year. I think my protein-needs would be met if I were to supplement that 1 lb of lamb meat each week with eggs, cheese, and soups made from stew bones. One animal slaughtered a year…. doesn’t seem that bad when it comes to being healthy. (I acknowledge that many many many disagree with this).
Would I do it again? Yes, I could do this again. I would. But don’t think that I’m eager to run out right now. Not at all.
Could I slaughter my own animals, animals that I have raised? Yes…. I think I could. I don’t think I’d be able to do the slaughtering myself, at least not the way Farmer Ken did it (I have vowed to never own a gun), but I would feel comfortable raising happy, healthy animals to be brought to a trusted, local butcher. I would do it for my own consumption, and that of my family. Also, the idea of being able to provide such high quality meat to other people is very very appealing….
More thoughts developing, but I am truly exhausted and I need to clean up this mess I’ve made in the kitchen. I will gladly answer any questions you might have, share more pictures with you privately, or clarify anything. Just comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This has been more labor intensive than I thought.
I’d like to close with wise words from Mr. Pollan.
Eat food. (real food). Not too much. Mostly vegetables.
Click Here to read about the 2010 lamb experience.