A recent meal featuring beef, pork and venison. Corey Bullock file.

Farm life: looking dinner in the eye

I think we’ve all heard of roosters being alarm clocks. Cocka-doodle-doodling during the wee hours of the morning. But have you heard of lambs being alarm clocks? Because that’s my life right now. Our previously-bottle-fed lamb likes to “baaahhhh” everyone out of bed around 5 a.m.. The sheep are no where near my house but it doesn’t mean I don’t hear her.

Although this may be a wee bit annoying, I’m usually up around 5:30 anyway, so I don’t get too frustrated with her (unless it’s on a Sunday). She’s also very sweet and very cute. Plus, knowing one day she will be dinner means I can’t stay mad at her.

READ MORE: Farm life: this little piggy

Now this might be a controversial idea for some, and I do not discount the opinions of my vegan friends, but the whole reason for raising lambs (and pigs, turkeys, etc) is to eat them and to sell their meat. In my opinion, there’s no better way to eat meat than to know exactly where it came from. I liken it very much to hunting.

Let me give you an example. A woman who’s blog I often read is a silversmith and farmer in Idaho. She raises turkeys and hunts and that is the only meat that she eats. She posted one day, because she was getting harassed by people commenting “friends not food”, and she said that the animals she raises are both friends and food. She said that getting to raise the animals and give them the best life possible is rewarding, and I agree. Never having to purchase meat from the grocery store? Also a plus. Who knows what kind of life those animals had.

I like to say that the animals have one bad day. Which is the truth. I won’t get into the nitty gritty about it, but these animals get to graze a whole pasture and roam and roll around and chase each other and lay in the shade all day every day. The pigs get fed veggie scraps from the local food recovery programs and I give them lots of my scraps too. They aren’t shoved into little cages or poked and prodded all day long.

As you may have read from a previous column of mine, the pigs recently took themselves on a field trip. How much more free range can you get? Mind you, yes, they are now in a more secure enclosure but I think you get the point.

READ MORE: Farm Life: an introduction

It is tough for me, at times, to take such care of these creatures and then see the freezer full a few months later. I had a little bit of a hard time wrapping my head around it when we first tried some of the pork from our previous sounder of swine, but it tasted incredible and I knew that those pigs had a great life. It’s not easy work taking care of so many animals. All of us living on the farm take it very seriously and truly care about their well-being. I’m forever grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for the experience, and for the countless hours that they spend with these animals.

I feel the same way about hunting that I do about these farm animals. I have yet to become a hunter myself, but I know that I would feel remorse. The thing is, it’s not easy. It’s a lot of work to get that animal out of the bush and into your freezer. But all of that is outweighed by being able to feed your family for an entire winter, if you ask me.

At the end of the day, sitting down to have a meal that was completely grown and raised in your literal backyard feels good. I know not everyone has the ability to raise their own meat or to hunt or to even have a vegetable garden. So I encourage you to support your local farmers and continue to do so. Even if you’re not a meat eater, buy your fruit and vegetables locally. I can guarantee there is care and hard work that goes into their crop. How glorious it is to nourish ourselves with food from our community, our neighbours, our friends.

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