The Blood Sweat and Tears of Homesteading
There are a few days on the Farm that I have a love hate relationship with.
It’s the day that we “harvest” our pasture-raised chickens.
It’s a day that stands for everything I am committed to, a day that makes me proud of the food I put on the table, and also a day that I hope will never be easy.
And I wanted to talk about what it takes to do this. Raise them. Harvest them. Package them. And eat them.
For many humans out there they cant imagine actually DOING it all. I have lots of people ask me “why do you do it?” “how can you kill them?” and “is it hard?”
The answer to those three is this.
I’m committed to raising my own food, knowing where it comes from and how it was treated from the first to its last.
I’ve seen the importance, from a health stand point, of eating food that was raised the way mother earth indented. Out in the sunshine, with the grass the bugs and the dirt and with a whole lotta love.
And my promise to my animals is this:
That they only have one bad day.
You pickin’ up what I’m putting down?
That my promise is that they will live a life that is stress free, full of sunshine, and pasture and bugs, and clean water, and gratitude for their life.
Why? Cuz it tastes better.
With a knife.
And is it challenging?
And I would worry about me if it WASN’T hard. If I didn’t shed a tear every time. If I forgot to pray and thank each one for giving its life to nourish mine and my family. I would worry. Because that would mean something in me was dead. It would mean I went numb. So it’s a good check in for me and my consciousness, my awareness and awake-ness.
I do not look forward to harvest day.
I DO look forward to what it stands for though. Which is that we get to raise our animals to nourish the soils, our earth, our bodies and our minds.
I get to have a hand in their every day life from the first few hours all the way to the end.
There is an immense respect for our critters and our harvesting practice that we take pride in.
We are very conscious of the stress it temporarily puts on our property. We make sure that none of our other animals can see what is happening.
The dogs are in the house.
The horses are in the back pasture.
The goats and layer chickens are across the creek.
And the meat birds are in the front pasture out of sight.
I said they have one bad day? Lets make it the one bad one-minute trek across the pasture to the harvesting station.
We make sure its quick. With prayer. With gratitude.
And with an aspect of awe that we have the life that allows us to be this close to our food.
We get our birds at one day old. We keep them safe for 6-8 weeks and surround them with things that a chicken would love.
Then we harvest them. Wrap them. And fill our freezer.
So come mid November when Im craving a perfectly roasted bird I know I don’t have to drive to the store.
And every time I unwrap them and place it in a roasting pan I am flashed back to that day in August when I was blasting Eric Church or Tim McGraw counting how many I had left to do.
And I smile. And I give thanks one more time.