WARNING: vegetarians will likely not enjoy reading this post.
It was just after 8 a.m. yesterday morning when I headed out to Aurora Mountain Farm. My mission was to participate in ‘chicken butchering day’, and to leave with my allotment of poultry for the year. The farm is in an idyllic setting near the Takhini River, and the weather for yesterday’s event couldn’t have been better – sunny and warm, but not scorching. I was greeted when I arrived not just by the Rudge family, but by their two farm dogs, several goats and a few pigs and cows. The soft conversation of the chickens could be heard in the background, with an occasional emphatic statement thrown in by the rooster.
In total, about fourteen of us showed up to butcher 184 chickens (they’ll have another such day a month from now, when the rest of their chicks will be ready for eating). We were quite a mix of people: other farmers, WWOOFers or people who used to be WWOOFers, and just regular folk who – like me – want to know more about where the food that we eat comes from.
My job was first to help catch the birds, and then later, to set myself up at the evisceration table. That wasn’t as bad as it might sound. Things have gone high tech since the days when I used to help my parents butcher our own chickens. Four families have invested in several pieces of equipment that allow the birds to be killed as humanely as possible and allow the dunking, plucking, and cleaning process to go as quickly and easily as possible. We started shortly after 9 a.m. and were finished by about 5 p.m., with a break at which time we were served a delicious vegetarian lunch (including, by the way, some fried cheese make from milk from their own goats).
I realize that participating in chicken day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But since I do eat chicken, it seems only fair that I take some responsibility for their deaths. And unlike battery hens, I know these animals have had a good life, with lots of room to roam and dig for bugs, and with lots of yummy treats to eat.