A rich, beautiful fall is settling over our valley. Morning chores are a pleasure as crisp air greets and the view …oh folks! the trek I take to feed our birds offers a view that would take your breath away!
This is a beautiful season of plenty! Of richness!
Our home is bursting at the seams with food: squashes and pears, apples and dry goods, mason jars stuffed with all kinds of produce! Freezers are filling up and the cold room holds root vegetables, put to bed in layers of fresh, damp soil.
Folks throughout the valley have harvested their gardens. Fruit trees have dropped their luscious sweets and the grape’s stem hangs, mostly empty.
Wild rose bushes that grow everywhere are covered with red, red rose hips, displaying their vibrant color for all to see!
Maple and poplars are bursting with color while the mountains are often dusted with whiteness of snow, accenting the darkness of evergreens and yellow tangle of the tamarack tree.
These displays are the climax of summer, the welcoming of autumn.
One would think in such a time of beauty, everything would be peaceful on the farm. With food put up for both man and beast, you’d think everything would slow, stop, and settle into quiet rest.
Those who live on the farm know the truth: this beautiful season is also bloody.
Now is when death occurs. Intentional death. When animals of feather and hoof are slaughtered, taken as nourishment for our bodies.
And I hate it.
I grew up surrounded by it and have carried on the practice. But I bloody hate it, hate this taking of life to nourish my own.
You’re probably wondering why I keep it up? Why do something I hate?
The plain and simple answer is this: I feel I should.
Call me ridiculous, but if I’m going to consume meat, I believe I need to face the reality of it all…from start to finish.
Doing so enables us to raise our animals well, in a healthy environment. It allows us to humanely kill, then process the meat ourselves. It offers our home real, nourishing food.
In spite of my convictions, I still struggle with this side of life and take no pleasure in this oh-so-final act!
It’s not the blood, guts or smells. It’s not the time it takes. It’s not that I’m emotionally attached to my meat animals. While caring for them, I make a point to avoid that!
It’s the life that departs.
Have you ever noticed a creature’s eyes when alive and well? Notice the colors and…well…life that fills them?
Do the deed. Watch life flow out with the crimson blood. Allow spasms dissipate. Then look into that eye again.
This gets to me. How is it that I am capable of taking life, but can’t give it? How is it, that I can take a beautiful, breathing, intricately designed creature, a masterpiece far more wonderful than anything any human has ever designed and by one swift movement, obliterate life from it?
I hate it. I bloody hate this part of such a beautiful season.
Yet I feel the need to face this reality of our scarred world. Death is. We can hide our faces, allow someone else to do the deed and hand us a package of neatly wrapped meat. But blood flowed, life was snuffed out, death happened for that package.
Death simply is.
While I want to live in acceptance of it, I never-ever want to become so calloused that death doesn’t unsettle me. I never want to lose the wonder of life.
Much as I may hate it, I’m not going to turn my head. I’ll not look away. Death unsettles me. And that, my friends is good. It should!
It’s a beautiful, bloody world I’m living in. A beautiful but bloody world.