Friday, January 4, 2013

Life and Death and a Bit of Perspective

   It comes to us all..the dark side of farmsteading..death. We raise up creatures from the time of their birth..nurture them..nurse them..watch them grow. Then, there is a time we all must face..their death. I am constantly asked how I do it..how do I raise an animal and then end its life..or watch it die. The truth lies in perspective.
   I grew up with farming grandparents..for them, crying over a cow's slaughter was unheard of and just plain ridiculous. It was their purpose; their place in the circle of things..it was just the way it was. We were not heartless to the sadness of death or the empty pasture that came on butchering days, but we faced it with the knowing the animals were raised well and died well and served their purpose. 
   My heart's desire was for my children to understand this purpose God had for life..and so, as creatures were born and raised here there were constant conversations relating to the fact it would end. Baby goats born here often move to new homes; chickens face predators..some end up in the freezer..even dogs die. In a society driven by the 'save the whales' mentality we never wanted our heart for our animals to overshadow its proper place. 
   Today I faced freezing sleet only to discover our little June didn't make it..in my heart, I was pretty sure she wouldn't..but finding her made it real..and it broke my heart. Sad news was shared with my teens..bundled under blankets..fighting illness of their own. Their response encouraged me..knowing years of workings side by side with them on this farmstead taught them well.
   So what is our perspective? It is sad..it is heartbreaking, but it wasn't one of us...or our extended family..or our dear friends. We grieve the loss, but rejoice in the gift of each other. As for butchering? The animals come to our home to live a good life..a life of love and sunshine..of attention and hearty food...and then they fulfill their purpose. 
  June was graciously laid to rest on our property as is our way. The rest of the day was filled with preparations...it is time to put some turkeys in the freezer. Tables set out...utensils prepared. It is part of the cycle of things..the way it works. For some it is the unspoken dark side of farm life...is it sad..yes, but..from my perspective..this is just how it is.


  

2 comments:

Michelle said...

Your post is so true. My husband hunts for our food. A lot of people think that is cruel. But these animals live a good life. Since my husband is American Indian not only do we thank the Lord. We also thank the animal that provides us with food. They are treated with great respect before and after death.

Dolly Sarrio said...

A healthy way to look at it. I will remember how you put it and not be so blame sad when I lose an animal. Our grandparents did just as you exactly as you say your family did...thanks for putting it all in perspective for me again.