Butcher Day Death with dignity

Death is a part of life, without death no one could live. Even vegetarians’ diets put an end to life. By eating a carrot, for example, there is no way for the veggie to naturally finishing its lifecycle, and produce seeds.

This may not seem like an end of a life , but it is.

To continue living , we must consume other forms of life. We can’t only be sustained by non-life forms such as minerals.

Most of us don’t talk about death much , but it’s part of life on the farm.

Every year, livestock is butchered for future use. This past week , we butchered our turkeys.

As in the past, I sent emails to those who had booked a turkey, inviting them to join us on butcher day. The answers ranged from those unavailable due to work or travel, to those who could not help with this sort of work , to those who were looking forward to helping.

I do understand it isn’t a job for everyone. Growing up on the farm on chicken-butchering day, my mother and I did the killing and plucking. My sister joined us to help eviscerate the birds. Killing with respect for the animal being killed isn’t always easy. But every year hunters do this when they go out for their yearly moose or bison. So it isn’t much of a stretch for farmers to do this as well.

The strange thing is, most modern farmers no longer do their own butchering. Farms have grown too large for on-site butchering. Now an animal is trucked to the auction barn, where it is bought and sent to an abattoir. Here it is killed, cut up, and packaged for sale.

Sometimes the killing happens in one place , and the cutting and wrapping in another; sometimes these places aren’t even in the same province. In such cases the farmer receives a cheque for the animal and the reality of death is no longer experienced. The person who buys the animal, or a cut-and-wrapped portion of it, never sees is alive, and is only connected to the living animal by a stretch of middlemen.

This distancing of ourselves from our food source makes us numb to certain realities .

In the Yukon we only have mobile abattoirs; the death of the animal takes place on the farm where it was raised , and the farmer is still involved. The meat is kept local and we have a shorter food chain. We also maintain some of the skills it takes to be more self-reliant. Being as isolated as we are from the rest of the planet, self-reliance is also part of life.

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