The first time I visited the ranch, my future in-laws welcomed me by slaughtering a pig. I was a sheltered suburban girl, and while I wasn't an "animal lover", it bothered me to watch my man kill the pig. I turned around, shut my eyes, covered my ears, and cried until it was over. I couldn't even eat eggs at breakfast that day. I barely got some toast in me.
But at lunch... I ate pork. I can't remember if it was side pork or pork chops.
Many people find the idea of killing your own food revolting. I used to be one of them. Now that I've lived here awhile though, I believe butchering my own meat has given me a greater respect for the animal I'm eating. I care about what the animal is eating, and the condition of her health when she is killed, because I don't want to eat a sick animal.
And of course, I have come to believe in the health benefits of eating the beef we raise. I know the cow has had minimal, if any, antibiotic. I know she's eaten lots of grass and hay, has been finished on corn. I know she hasn't been given synthetic hormones to make her grow bigger, faster. I know she had a nice life- she has roamed the wide prairie for months and only for the past few weeks has she been confined to the corral. If I want to, I can watch her die humanely, with a single shot to the head. I can even kill her myself. It is a quick and painless death. I know she doesn't suffer. I will have the privilege of processing the carcass myself (and it is a privilege to me).
We've branched out from beef since I've been here. Now we are raising meat chickens, turkeys, and ducks (for our own consumption, not to sell). I love seeing the birds run around in the grass eating bugs, just as God intended them to eat. We got araucuna chickens, and they look great. I really like their multi-colored feathers. Amazingly, 11 turkey poults are thriving (I once read that turkey poults are suicides waiting to happen- they are very difficult to raise). And the ducks are my favorite. Every morning we herd them out of their "nest" and into the reservoir. They race through the grass, chirping happily, splashing in every available puddle. They spend their days swimming in the reservoir. At night we herd them back inside to keep them safe from predators.
We are interdependent on these animals. They would not be alive if we did not care for them. We would not care for them if we were not going to eat them. We would not be alive without these animals to eat.
Now, when the time comes, I am able (mentally, emotionally, and physically) to kill them and eat them (although usually not in the same day). That's one way that I have really changed since moving out here.