Animal farm.

I was talking to Joy yesterday about all kinds of things, but mostly about her Thanksgiving trial run with the farm turkeys that she, Aaron, and Dan slaughtered a few weeks ago.  (I recall a quote from a family dinner this past August: "Shall we chop their heads off, or just slit their throats?"  Best out of context.)

I was momentarily horrified that Joy herself had served the kiss of death.  My gentle sister.  Ending the life of a living, breathing creature.  As my horror became more clear to her, she assured me that she had not done the actual killing.  Only the feather plucking.  Sigh of relief.

I am not a vegetarian.  I know where my meat comes from.  I don't have ethical problems with eating animals.  I just don't want to kill the animals myself.  There are people that will do that for me.  Dan, who did some of the executions, put it this way:  That moment, between life and death, is a very weird one.  And that's a weird moment that I don't want to know unless it's a matter of survival.

When I was twelve, I went on a hunting trip with Dad.  Daddy/daughter weekend.  We drove up to Pappy's old duck camp near Bemidji, got up at five in the morning (believe it! I do early mornings when I have to), and got ready to take the boat out on the lake.  Jimmy's hound was excited to come with us to fetch anything that we might shoot.  But it was northern Minnesota in the winter.  And it was cold.  Dad tried to get the boat a bit off the dock, but the ice on the lake was too thick.  He was worried that once we got out in the water, the ice would freeze up again and we wouldn't be able to get back.  He knew I wanted to shoot the gun, so we satiated ourselves with aim at a couple of cattails, which I missed.  (Gimme a break, it was a twelve gauge.  I was little.)  And then we went to the neighbor's, who let me blow through a few rounds on his six-shooter.  Dad tells a famous story about the guy waving it around like nothing, and being afraid for my life.  I won't go into detail here with that.  I've already wasted enough cyber ink.  The point is, even though my full intention was to get up to that lake and shoot some ducks, I'm super glad in hindsight that circumstances prevented it.  I can't imagine what it would've done to me psychologically.  I just can't kill things. 

Joy says that my little niece Ana watched the entire slaughtering process.  It didn't seem to phase her one bit.  In fact, Joy said she had a morbid fascination with the turkey heads floating around in a bucket of blood.  She just stared and stared at them, bobbing up and down, nameless waddles in a sea of plasma.  Apparently Ana is okay with things getting whacked as long as they're "mean."  And she said the turkeys were mean.

Ana's sweet little kitty, Daisy, was not mean, though.  And disappeared not too long ago.  She asked Joy what happened to Daisy.  "I think probably an owl got her, honey."
"What did the owl do with her, mama?"
"Well, Ana, it probably ate her.  They're strong enough to get lambs, you know."
Joy described that as a moment where she doubted her mothering.  I can imagine it now.  The exact instant where the imagery of an owl, hooked beak and talons, ripping apart a sweet, soft, best friend of a cat registered in Ana's innocent, four-year-old mind, producing the silent face scrunch.  The one where at first you think, "Oh, okay.  She's just processing it," but soon, very soon, you realize the train is coming off the tracks, and going in the direction of uh oh!  Abort!  Abort!  And then, full blown, tearful wailing.  "DA-AAI-SSYYYY!!"  That was the wail.

But now, Ana just asks a lot if owls are going to get things.  And she talks about it like she talks about brushing her teeth.  No big whoop.  I guess growing up on a farm really helps a kid understand the cycle of life.  I told Joy that I bet the same thing happens when she tells Ana about sex.  Her face will scrunch up into a twisted little distressed mass, her round, raisin eyes will well up with salty, wet puddles, and she'll sob and wail in confusion.  "Why, mama, WHY??"  And then, a couple of days later, she'll ask Dan about it in earnest, and wonder what it was she said to make him blush.

Here we go, Day 89:

I stole these pictures from my sister's blog.



Little Ana and Toby. :)