This entry expresses in detail my experience of culling a chicken, and how I relate to life and death on the farm. I do not express much visual content, but I do explain what happened and why. If you do not feel comfortable reading about this, as it is a sensitive subject, please skip this entry. Thank you for understanding. I do still feel like is an important piece of farming, and I hope that all who do chose to keep reading understand my perspective and respect my way of life.
Let my love let your soul free
A few words about how farming has brought me closer to life and closer to death. In my experiences, I have helped birth piglets, calves, goats, and have watched eggs hatch into chickens and turkeys. The beauty in those moments has made me cherish what I am doing, to have such an influence in the first days of a animal's life. While also in my experiences, I have seen animals, in many stages of life, die. I have felt the confusion of wondering what I could have done better after staying up for 24 hours trying to nurse one of Ruby's piglets back to health, and still the baby dies. I cried when I had to bury that baby in the ground. I have wondered why Rhubarb's calf was still born, and what we could have done differently. I helped bury the old farm dog after she passed, a dog I had known and loved for a year. I cried the first time I watch the pigs I raised, from day old to butcher day, culled and processed in front of my eyes. But I cried in respect, in honor, and in understand. Death is an unsettling uncertainty, but it is part of my everyday life on the farm. I appreciate being so closely knit with the cycles of life, and I better understand my time here because of it. I raise an animal with conscious intention and respect for maintaining their health and well being, and I believe that the animals I raise understand their purpose, both in life and death, and that is how us farmers make it work. For me, culling an animal is a sacred experience, and I believe that I respect both the spirit and the body, in the process.
On Wednesday morning when I went out to open the chickens in the morning, I noticed that one of the hens has a prolapsed vent. I was grateful that none of the other chickens has began pecking on her, and I separated her out to make a decision. As viscous or as survival-oriented as it may seem, when another chicken is wounded, all of the other chickens will peck at the first sign of blood until she is dead and eventually they will eat her. This is part of the cycle of life and death. Everything is food for someone, and there needs to be so that nothing is wasted and everything turns back into soil. Without this process life would not continue. Since she was one of our older girls, it made since to cull her. I chose to do it myself. So I had a ceremony to celebrate her life, and then I ended it. The process of culling a bird has been practiced for so many thousands, if not millions, of years, that the process seems instinctual, completing the cycle of growing your own food and nourishment. Afterwards she went into the stock pot for chicken soup. When I eat this soup, I will think of this chicken, and blessings be upon her for all that she has done to nourish my family, thank you.
I hope you can appreciate this part of farming, and also be inspired by taking back the sacred in your life. Think of every step of the process to grow and raise your food, and let it nourish you, and have many thanks for feeling full and satisfied. True wealth is being nourished.