Last week one of our chickens died. Her demise was very sudden. One day, she was eating and behaving just like the others, the next she was off her food and listless. We thought she might be egg bound and with the advice of big sis and the internet, we checked her over as best as we could. We spoke to chicken lady’s son-in-law but to one whose chickens and rabbits really are treated as livestock, you can imagine what he suggested. She didn’t seem to be in pain and let us pick her up as we tried to bathe her and give her food and water with a syringe. But it was clear she was not going to recover.
Although our chickens are not pets, I have to admit there were tears. Quite a few of them, in fact. She was so helpless and dependent on me but I was just as helpless. I like to think she knew we were doing our best and that she had had a happy life with us.
This has obviously put a big question mark over the whole pig idea. If I get upset when a chicken dies of illness or maybe at some stage, old age, how will I feel sending a pig to slaughter? I have justified in my head, the owning of a pig for meat, as we eat pork, prosciutto and sausages. But buying these products and rearing an animal for the sole purpose of supplying us with them is a very different thing. I think pigs are lovely animals and I would dearly love to have one. But that is just it: I want to have one to keep, to look after and to talk to (yes, really. Don’t think I don’t do that with the chickens and cats). Would I really see him just as meat? Does my, or could my, desire to be self sufficient outweigh my natural disposition to become attached to my animals? At this moment I’m not sure.