Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Where did your chicken nugget come from?

Let me start this by saying that I live in smack dab in the middle of farm country. All my neighbors know how to clean a chicken, raise animals either for meat or milk, and our life style is very much the norm. Actually, we are more soft hearted than the majority of our neighbors when it comes to our animals. We had the vet out to put one of our goats to sleep and locals thought we were a bit off our rockers.

I was sitting at dance tonight waiting for the kids during their classes, this takes up two hours of my life every week. The mom next to me finds me fascinating, not because she thinks I am a super cool mom, but because I live on a little farm. She wants to talk about our animals every week and what we do with them. I think she is trying to see if I am really telling the truth and not just making this stuff up and if she asks me over and over maybe I will slip up and she will just up and yell "I knew it, that is not really how a farm works!"

She usually starts with the goats. "What are the goats up to" she will ask. Then she follows every week with "what do you do with them?" Well, we milk them. And what do we do with the milk she usually inquires with raised eyebrows. We drink it, make cheese, yogurt, and soap. Tonight she wants to know how can you drink milk that isn't processed? Pasteurized you mean? Yes, she says, you know to make it drinkable. I told her we drink it raw because pasteurizing goat milk gives it that goaty taste, to us anyway it does. Her eyebrows dip down in the middle towards her nose and she gives me the "what you talking about Willis?" look. I guess she thought that if it wasn't processed it was impossible to swallow it? Next, was the cheese. How do you make cheese? Seriously, you can make cheese?! Well, you put it in a pot, add some rennet, heat it up and it turns into cheese. She let that one go with a skeptical look and moved on to the rabbits.

The rabbits, the cute, cuddly, adorable, little rabbits. Now, there are some cute rabbits and others act like they are on terminal PMS 24/7. She finds it almost impossible to believe that we have a herd and that we eat them. I try to explain to her that yes, we do have rabbits that we would never be able to cull or eat. Those are the ones that we breed and have become like pets. Here is the dark side of rabbits that she couldn't believe a cute bunny would ever do. They are not always attached to their babies. The mother will eat them, push them out of the nest, abandon them and just not feed them. They will fight with each other, rip hair out, chew on each other and even kill each other. Now not all of them do this, most are very happy to live in one hutch and be best friends. We have had a few though that are truly antisocial and sadistic. Well, she had an uncle that raised rabbits and ate them so she supposes that this whole rabbit thing must be possible. It would make her cry though she adds.

We move on to the chickens. Do we really kill them? Yes, by the time the roosters are big enough we are more than ready to cull them. We don't eat our hens, they are egg layers. I tell her about how they will fight with each other like the illegal cock fights you hear about. I tell her about the large spurs they have on their legs, how long and sharp they are. I hate those roosters fighting all the time so I run out in the yard with a leaf rake and separate them. Actually, I have gotten quite good at it, now there is something for my resume. Do you cut their heads off she wants to know. Yeessss, there is no other way to do it. She is totally shocked. I asked her how she thinks they get chicken nuggets. Well, they don't kill the chicken she says! I think she may be a bit too far removed from where her food comes from.

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