Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Life and Death on the Farm

Its something you have to accept but it is never easy. There have been some accidental deaths on the farm. It turned out that Eclipse was not just one huge baby. Hours after I had even written that post, his mother gave birth to a still born ewelamb. She was small and not fully developed like Draga's stillborn last year. I buried her and thought that was the end of it. But hours after that, Brida was struggling with what I thought was the afterbirth when I left for dance class. But when I came back there was another dead lamb in the lambing pen. Another black ewe lamb who she had given birth to breach. She had obviously been alive when the whole birth process began but a lamb cannot survive a breach birth due to the umbilical chord breaking and the nose not being out. She was a good size. I was very sad to discover her but even sadder that I had not known and that Brida had had to push out a large lamb in the breach position. Her vulva was swollen and very sore. It is a testament to her fortitude that she managed to give birth this way and survive. So I buried her, too. Brida had triplets, not one huge baby. But only one huge baby survived. We grieved, we buried them.

This spring, I bought a nanking cherry tree and planted it over the graves of Freya and Bjorn. She loved nanking cherries. And when little Lifa was born, I celebrated her return.

I worry over my sheep, listen to there sounds, checking for health and distress. When Zeus barks furiously in the night, I get up to check if there is really a bear in the pen (so far there never has been). I feel gratified when the sheep shearer tells me what good health they are in - especially when he says that he would have never guessed that Brida could look so good (he had shorn her in her previous life as Princessa at Pineridge Icelandics).

Then it is with sadness that I call the guy to come and slaughter the first lamb to survive on my farm. And I lead him easily (because he is so tame and even tempered) to the slaughter. My heart was in my throat that day that Basil met his end. I brought him into this world, I looked after him, I loved him and then I had him killed. It was hard. And I think it supposed to be hard. I take life to eat - we all do. Even if we eat only plants - they were alive once, too. And I, too am in the circle of life and will one day be food for plants. On this day I am reminded of my place. Reminded to be thoughtful of what I take to live.

However, this does not stop me from thoroughly enjoying eating him. We had the first lamb chops for supper last night along with pesto pasta salad, corn on the cob and a gooey dessert. Look at that - nice thick lamb chops. He weighed out at 63 lbs! More than twice what any of the others have been. I am so impressed. And grateful. Thank you, Basil! Last night we ate him with BBQ sauce, though....


Beth-a-knee said...

yah and he was yummy

sheila said...

Sorry to be morbid but LOL. Yes, it's that great circle of life, isn't it? Nowadays we're all so cut off from this aspect of consumption, just as we are from my current beef: death. No one sees it, no one gets too involved in it, and no one likes to think about it. But it happens. We should, to use an overused phrase, embrace it. Because it isn't going away any time soon.

Ooh, was that a soapbox I was on? Gosh. Sorry. Get back to your dinner. Looks yummy.

Andrea said...

Sheila, I so agree! And then also , people being buried on steel and concrete that separate them from being food for the plants that feed my sheep.... We've gotten so out of touch and disconnected from this most natural process.

bum.by.the.sea said...

I really agree with being there and being a part of the whole process when you are going to eat meat. It's true that it makes you more thoughtful about what you are doing - taking the life of something else so that you can live. It's a big deal and I agree that it should be hard. It's why I want to raise bunnies to eat!