Waking to fresh coffee, making the rounds and feeding all of our animals is a rewarding experience.
The laying hens are opened to the outside, their feed is replenished, their water is checked, and more hay is added to their bedding to keep them dry. We take their eggs in exchange for this care.
Moving up the hill to the barn, the ten 175 lb berkshire pigs are fed, their drinking water is checked, their wallow is filled,and the electric fence is inspected. This keeps them in one area until they are moved to new ground. Speaking quietly and gently, I remind the clever and good looking hogs that the smell of hicory smoked bacon, sausages, and baked hams awaits for the Christmas season.
It is late summer. The cattle have moved onto greener pastures until the cold, wet weather arrives. They will then return to the barn and expect their morning and afternoon feeding ritual. The young heifers and steers are shipped to the abbatoir and the sides of beef are delivered to our butcher. There, they are aged, cut, wrapped, and frozen. They return in boxes to Mayne Island where the local beef can be found in our freezer section at Farm Gate Store. They are prepared into dishes such as meat pies, stews, and sausages for our deli case. The new calves are born in the early winter and the cycle begins again.
The sheep hang around the barn pastures all year, never venturing too far. In cold weather they are fed twice a day with our hay and organic grain. The lambs were shipped to Saturna Island last month and Jacquie Campbell processed them in her government inspected abbatoir. They are now back and available cut and wrapped in our freezer section. Very soon our ‘rent a ram’ will visit the sheep and about five months later baby lambs will begin to arrive.
Finally, the ‘meat birds’ are moved in their 10 x 20 chicken tractors to fresh grass, their feed is replenished, their water is checked, and combs are inspected for healthy colour. Their life is a short one in human terms…just 10 weeks. At 5 to 7 lbs they are ready for market. Good hearty soups, grilled breast of chicken, boneless legs stuffed with chanterelle mushroom,garlic, and tomato, and lemon and chive sausages are on the menu for the future.
The Oxford dictionary definies husbandry as the care, cultivation, and breeding of crops and animals. Good husbandry benefits both the farmer and the animals.When farmers treat their livestock with care and respect, the benefits go both ways.
Shanti has taught me the importance of good husbandry.
As for the ethics of eating meat raised with care and compassion…
I have no problem.