1-I am thankful butchering day is over, and particularly thankful that The Manimal did the butchering himself. This was quite a decision for him to make because his religious teacher assures him that killing anything is the worst deed you can do in this life. This teacher eats meat himself, but someone else has to kill the animals he eats. The Manimal and I both consider this pretty darn hipocritical.
I object to the abuse of animals, to factory farms,feed lots, battery houses of thousands of laying hens penned up for life. It is because of my feelings about commercial animal treatment that we got day old chicks and raised a flock of laying hens three years ago. We wanted eggs done right.
Our 10 hens and two roosters live in a little house that would accomodate probably 100 battery hens boxed and stacked three cages high.
They wake with the sun and go to bed at dusk, I don't fake them out with artificial light to force them to lay more eggs. In the spring when a couple of the hens go broody I let them sit on a clutch of eggs and hatch them, and raise the chicks. The flock has a natural life. They have a fenced run to protect them from predators, but the get out to free range almost every day. And by free range I don't mean what commercial concerns often mean by that term- one 12 inch door for 600 hens and the door seldom actually opened.
When I say our hens (and roosters) free range I mean they go up the ridge as high as they want and down to the creeks as deep into the forest at they wish. I have not clipped their wings, and they all fly quite well too.
I don't consider killing an animal for food to be abuse. Everyone/everything dies sooner or later. Most things die to become the food of something else. That is how this planet works, and there is no avoiding it.
My goal in embracing veganism is to disconnect myself from the quite hideous industry that has grown up around forced breeding of animals by the billlions and treating them as if they were farm machinery. I believe it's bad for the animals, bad for the planet, and also bad for the people who work in this industry. Treating animals inhumanely is dehumanizing to people as well.
It is not my intention to disconnect myself from life on this earth or from the reality of how the food chain works. So. I'm very pleased that The Manimal is willing to take on the killing and butchering and that he is careful and skillful at it. If he's going to be an omnivore I respect him for taking on the full responsibility.
2-I am thankful for the amazing peace, harmony and QUIET we have now that there is no longer a gang of juvenile delinquent banty roosters swaggering around here crowing at all hours of the day and night and picking constant fights with each other.
We chose the sturdiest, prettiest, least aggressive banty rooster as a partner for the banty hens. I've named him Keeper. He's the son of one of my banty gals who hatched out a clutch of eggs this spring.
3-I am thankful hens aren't too smart. They sleep a sleep of forgetfulness that would thrill Shakespeare. I am using this to my advantage by moving our half-wild banty hens into the henhouse with the large hens. I want them housed before the weather gets bad. After I cleaned out the henhouse today and put in fresh litter I put the big hen's set of three perches in a north-south position instead of the former east-west position. I did this to disorient them. I want to stop them automatically going to their usual spot on the perch. Next I brought in a good stout limb with the branches off and mounted it cornerwise for the banty hems. I chose the corner behind where the large hens will roost. Then I shut the doors till nightfall. When it was dark I first carried Keeper and his 3 hens to the henhouse and setted them on their new tree limb perch. After a bit of ruffling they went right off to sleep. Then I opened the hen door and shone my flashlight into the henhouse and Whitney and his full sized hens followed the light and got onto their newly positioned perches and also went to sleep. When they all awake in the morning they'll be enough confused by the perches facing a different direction and the sun coming through the window from a different side that I suspect the big hens will hardly notice four banties perched in the corner.
4-I am thankful there are brilliant people on the internet who raise hens happily and humanely from whom I can learn things, since I didn't grow up on a farm and am learning as I go here.
5-I am thankful for mashed potatoes, which is what I had for supper. This has been my lifelong food of choice when stuck for choices. I seem to have spent a disproportionate amount of my childhood sitting in restaurants waiting for my food-adoring family to choose from a menu of items mostly unappealing to me. Happy was the day when I discovered I could sidestep parental pressure to "just decide on something' by saying "I'd like a double order of mashed potatoes".
The potatoes I cooked for supper came from Idaho. I wonder how the carbon footprint of an Idaho potato in Indiana compares to the carbon footprint of a rooster born and raised in our side lawn. Without his fancy feathers a banty rooster is not much bigger than a baking potato.
6-I am thankful for my red rubber gardening wellies. They came to me from Scotland, I've worn them year round in every nasty weather and hard work imagineable, and they are still going strong after twenty years. The heels are worn down a bit, but that gives them character. As I began mucking out the chicken run today I especially appreciated them. A foot of manure and decomposing straw is not a place you want to stand in with your Crocs on.
7-I am thankful for nice chilly weather. I have allergies, or at least I've had allergies since I moved to this forest valley four years ago. When last I cleaned out the henhouse it nearly killed me. I thought I'd never be able to breathe properly again. That was on a hot humid day. Today in the crispy coldness I cleaned out the henhouse in record time and it did not hurt to breathe in the least. A wise farmgirl would make a note to self for future reference when scheduling mucking-out appointments.
I'm also thankful for our big wide aluminum shovel with the handle broken off. The henhouse is small for a big lady like me (5'4") and wielding a regular shovel in there was very knocky and awkward what with the ceiling and walls getting in the way. I tried a trowel, which was dreadfully small for the work at hand, then told The Manimal what I really needed was a wide shovel but with a short handle. He pointed to a broken scoop shovel leaning against a tree and suggested, "You could put a short handle on that." But as it happened the whatever-its-called metal part of the shovel that the wooden handle fits into was long enough to get a good grip on so it really doesn't need a handle at all.
8-I am thankful for the way our kitties get stockier and silkier every day. Pyewacket and Pandemonium both started out as scrawny sorts, and it's nice to see how running up and down in the hilly forest (or on the forested hills?) is building nice muscles on them. They've become such satisfyingly big handsome cats.
9-I am thankful I have two computers to choose from, as at any given time one of them will refuse to work for me. Occasionally both refuse to work at once, but they always seem to get over their moods and return to service. They're my most frequent connection to the outside world and I miss the world when they're having moods.
10-I am thankful for texting and messaging. I got the prettiest picture message today from Youngest Child to say/show she'd received a little thing I sent by post and that she was enjoying it. Instant gratification is nice now and then.
There ya go. Ten Thankfuls even though it was butchering day and the water went out (cold weather broke pipe) and we had to go to town for plumbing parts.
Maybe tomorrow will be a little less interesting. Wait, no, we have to fix the plumbing tomorrow, so that will probably be pretty darn interesting too.