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Chelsea Green Blog

My Vermont Farm: Chicken Killing at Home

This week was a doozy on the farm. It was the first of the chicken killing. And we let the Brooklyn foodie do the work. Full story here: From The Huffington Post:
Last night, we had fourteen people over for dinner. And they wanted chicken. Good thing we had some…but they were running around. And so it was–all in the name of well balanced meals–farm life came down to its grittiest. I live and work on a farm in central Vermont, and there’s always family around. That means a lot of emotional turmoil (and joy, ehem), a lot of secretly chugging whiskey in the closet (not really, but really), and best of all–extra hands. No one visits without pitching in. And now that it’s late August, the farm work is at its peak. Harvesting, preserving food for winter, and chicken killing. While some may balk (bawwwk) at the idea of taking a life on the grounds of a homestead, we do it for the sake of food–not sport–and when it comes down to it, for the sake of the chicken itself. It’s not indulging in sadism, nor for power over an animal, nor an image of something hardcore and awesome to impress the neighbors. It’s about being connected to the very foundations of self sufficiency, and understanding that meat does not simply fall from the sky, packaged on a shelf in a supermarket; it comes from a living, breathing being. Chicken killing at home is deep. Emotional. Ethical. As Joel Salatin says in his book Pastured Poultry Profit$, it’s necessary:
“Animal rights activists, for all their misdirection, are right on target when pushing for animal slaughter as close to the point of production as possible. Not only does it relieve [the chicken’s] stress, a direct cause of tough meat, but is far more environmentally sensible.”
Joel Salatin is at the forefront of the farming movement. His name is becoming household, and his practices are emulated across the country. He’s the farmer who changed Michael Pollan’s life, in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, remember? He’s the farmer young farmers want to be; he makes money farming, but he does it right–his animals live according to their “ness”, which means closest to their nature. And while most chicken producers send their birds long distances to slaughter houses (which really stresses out the chickens in their final days), like us–and many other small farmers in Vermont–Salatin supports the at-home processing method. To him, it represents the very foundation of his respect for his animals. He says:
“We have customers who occasionally like to come out and ‘get connected’ to their food…If one of our ultimate goals is to reconnect the urban and rural sectors of our culture, on-farm processing affords us a technique to accomplish that goal.”
[…]
Read the entire article here.


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