I wish I could tell you everything – about how a year on the land came and went, about what it’s taken out of and from us all to make it this far, about what the horses have been up to, about each perfect little puppy from the second batch, about everything we’ve built and unbuilt, changed, burned, dreamed of, and given up on. I wish I could tell you these and many other things, but I won’t, because there isn’t much time. This isn’t about horses. This is about right now.
It has been a time for spirits. We’ve had Halloween, Samhain, Guy Fawkes Night, Dio de los Muertos, and a brand new full moon in Taurus. The temperature has plummeted over the week, and the eerie, silent gray of river mist that swallowed the valleys in an autumnal shroud dropped theatrically to reveal the terrible splendour of winter. The damp chill has crystalized into -15 centigrade and a second dusting of snow brightens up the farm.
The final harvest is upon us. We’ve dug potatoes, dried herbs, frozen tomatoes, kale and beans, shelved the cabbages and planted and mulched next year’s garlic. Some of it we grew and some of it we bought from other, more experienced farmers. This was an odd growing season; with apocalyptic wildfires in the south, our area had blessed rain through the summer – which, while keeping us safe, also kept the garden from fully expressing itself. The wild berries were few. Game has been scarce. The fish runs suffered brutally this year, and the politics of our salmon river towns have been tense. The bounty of this place hangs by a thread, but still it hangs. It’s time to butcher.
A few days ago I was tending to the myriad animals, tense and worried as I have slowly become. My back ached between my shoulder blades. My elbows and wrists were sore from the relentless moving of thousands of pounds of hay, feed, wood and water. Heavy boots, heavy mind, heavy heart. Somewhere out there the foxes prowled, waiting for the dogs to turn their backs long enough to snag a plump chicken. I waded through goats irritably, fending off their hungry, oppressive hooves and faces. Yes, I will get you hay. Yes, if you leave me alone for one Jesus-H-Christ-damned second I will feed you.
Somehow Birdy, in her inimitable goat-wisdom, caught my eye and pulled me down to my knees so she could reach my face – how she caught my attention in that indulgent state of self-absorption I have no idea. While the other goats faded away like choreographed chorus members, their piranha-frenzy inexplicably quelled, Birdy touched me gently with her nose and then buried her face in my neck under the collar of my jacket. We stayed like that a long while, and she let me cry as the tension spilled up and over to express itself.
Dreading the pig slaughter that loomed ever closer, I’d been slowly, unconsciously, shutting off my connection to the pig herd. And as that link withered and hardened, so did the rest of them. All my joy, love, and delight for my animal family was dulled, as though that might somehow make it hurt less to lose them. And meanwhile, I was forgetting the point of it all. I was doing that thing where you peer into the Void and chuck rocks and never hear them hit bottom.
I could call it off, and quit eating meat, and avoid this altogether – this is a choice we are making, one that doesn’t make sense to many. Do you know that scene in Cold Mountain, where the wise old healer woman is loving up her goat and then deftly slits its throat and helps it die? Some people find it really morbid, and some people aspire to that. I’m in the second camp.
I don’t believe any food, or life, can be produced absolutely free of suffering. I think of the incredible life within or beneath the soil that is displaced, diseased or destroyed by most vegetable farming practices. Things without faces, or with faces we don’t connect with easily. I think of the bees and the worms and the soil bacteria and the birds and the migrant workers and every other unacknowledged soul; of the sentience of plants, conveniently forgotten or ignored; of the nitrogen run-off and the soil degradation and the deforestation and the climate effects that taint whatever else we put in our mouths; whether we know about it or not. Legumes don’t grow well in this climate and half the year nothing grows at all, except critters. Protein is precious. I believe I might feel right in this world if I can lovingly tend and harvest what I eat. I want to participate fully with my heart and eyes wide open. I want to be big enough to hold it all at once, and I realized right then that I simply wasn’t, yet.
With Birdy’s sweet snuffling guidance that morning, I poked some breathing holes through my own illusions, pried open my heart again, and waited to see what would happen. I also stank like a goat for the rest of the day, incidentally.
This season’s festivals are about death, but they’re also about life. We are apparently meant to celebrate in the face of death, poke fun at it, pull its mask off and see it for what it truly is – not something to fear, but something to dance with. Something to welcome when the time is right. Something to make room for, to acknowledge, to respect and to know intimately. Something to make every day sweeter and brighter. And lo, when we light the candles and sing the songs and send our prayers up with the smoke, something does loosen its grip. And something else, perhaps an accordance with all things, takes its place.
Yesterday our neighbours came and took the lives of the two pigs that will feed their family through the winter. The cheerful, brave little souls passed quickly and without distress, on home ground with friends and family near. One moment they were eating porridge and apples, and the next they were gone. No separation, no travel, no fear, no trauma. Tomorrow, the third pig goes. Another thirty or so chickens are feasting in what’s left of the garden, unknowingly reaching the end of their days. Less absolute but still sore are other losses – soon six of the goats, who we have fostered for friends, return to their people. One puppy of four has gone to his forever home; another leaves next week. And I can’t explain why this soul stays and this one goes, why dogs and cats are fed but not eaten and horses get forever homes while goats must leave, even on this farm. But I find that heavy worry and didactic reasoning doesn’t cure anything, and turning away from the world’s woes has never seemed to lighten them.
So today my exhaustion makes way for quiet celebration, and the sun shines and the barnyard calls. I open the pig gates and oust the swine from their afternoon nap. I demand that the goose join us; I call the chickens out; I summon the goats. I toss salmon roe to the chickens who revel in their fatty goodness. I take flax and alfalfa and spread it out for the herbivores. I bring crisp red apples from the cellar and dump them out in the snow. We are having a party for Big Boy’s last night on earth.
The horses hang on the fence, waiting for me to pitch them fruit to hunt in the snow and weeds. The barnyard hums with contented activity, eight species milling around in busy, light-hearted competition. This place holds us all, and Big Boy, our sweet pig born and raised and soon to die here, strides bright-eyed and easy through the snowy grass, rooting and foraging, and then flops on my lap, enormously, for one last cuddle. I thank him and love him fiercely, and let him go while holding him close. And think, there – if death came to me exactly now, swift and absolute, I’d be at peace with it. Let him be as well.
This life we are living together is not wildness in the common language, no – this is managed, this is predicted, this is orchestrated and tended and tamed to many degrees.
This is undeniably domestic, but its edges give way to truth. The rules remain the same. We all live, we all die, and we all do better when we are fed well, afforded some freedom, and able to express our deepest natures; animal and spiritual and whatever else is in between. The coyotes howl no matter how thick the walls. The darkness falls and the light reclaims. And everything is more vibrant when you remember you’re a part of it.
After Big Boy pig left this world, I went to the remaining pigs, and I thought, how do I carry this? How do I apologize or… explain this to them? My voluntary part in it, my choice to have him die…
They were snuggled up together, the energy was very low; I had kept them apart but let them see his body afterwards so they wouldn’t wonder. And as I reached out energetically, I got the answer. I said, “Yeah I’m so sad too. I can’t believe he’s gone.” And we flowed sadness between us. And I kept the complicated parts to myself, because they aren’t part of their world. And then they got up and came out into the field with me and rooted around, pausing over the frozen blood stain on the ground and then carrying on.
I had a round bale delivered into their shelter and when they came back, they were so excited and got to work pulling it apart to make a comfy bed. Here’s a video of them – they surprised me by appearing balanced and content, despite the recent deaths. Mama Pig actually carries mouthfuls of hay to place just so in her boudoir (I’ve also seen her lay hay over her sleeping children). Her small husband prods her affectionately. Everyone rejoices in the tasty green novelty. Life goes on.
p.s. The big snuffles are from my running nose because it’s dang cold!
Click here for Part 15 in this series.
A barefoot hoof trimmer, a singer/songwriter, an amateur farmer – these are some of the hats Kesia Nagata wears when she’s not full to bursting with wondrous equine co-creation.
65 thoughts on “Rewilding the Herd – Last Night on Earth”
There are so many lines in this one that just sing- “The coyotes howl no matter how thick the walls.”
I love it. I’ve been thinking along these lines too. All of the complexities that run with this time of year- the time, traditionally, in subsistence and homesteading cultures, of slaughter- the hunt, the harvest; the taking of life from life so that yours can carry on. I love the thought of tying them together with halloween; the day of the dead; all of the ancestors who have fed us whose bones are not human…
What do we have to offer in return? A thousand small ceremonies. A song sung to a river while your hands, plunged deep in icy cold, fill a water jug. A pebble placed on a leaf beside the trail.
Gosh but I have a lot of love for you, woman! Your heart and your word-songs fill me up. Just some of your many offerings to the world 🙂
This was such a great read this morning with my coffee and the crisp California air. It’s still only 40ish in the morning here where I live and your stories always transport me to a different way, time and life. This life in all its glory is filled with complicated yet simplistic tasks that we all have to manage and wrap our brains and hearts around. I so appreciate hearing your perspective and also your truths about most people’s idea of wild…. yet like you said …it’s truly domestication at its core. The cycle of life is so complex & interesting and no one gets to escape it. I feel your journey is so authentic to you. Your writing comes across with so much heart and soul and I feel a bit more connected to this earth when I read about your exploration into trying to find balance and grace with your choices. Even though it might be a version of domestication It still seems to touch on wild ….or at least as close as most of us will ever get to it. Wild seems to be beautiful, scary, brutal, and yet peaceful all at the same time…your writing is such a glimps into that. Thanks for letting us all take an ongoing peek✌?️❤️?
Oh Michelle. It’s been hard in ways I didn’t ever imagine (along with all the ways I knew it would be) but when I remember to write about it and it makes sense to someone else then it kinda solidifies bits for me. That’s what I love about being able to share this stuff. Thank you thank you for your reply 🙂 <3
You have a choice and don’t need to kill to eat.
The pigs don’t have that choice. No matter how you sugar coat this ‘killing’ and that is all you are doing to make it right in your mind, it isn’t kind to the pig. They know exactly what is going on. Just think about the 3rd pig who had to go through knowing what you are doing to his two family members and what is next for him. They know on a vibrational level what is up. Don’t kid yourself.
How would you feel about killing a human family member and eating them because that was what society said was OK to do. Or how about in Korea where they kill and eat dogs because society says that is OK. There is no difference in my mind. Which dog are you going to choose for your meal tonight.
These pigs are particularly smart mammals. That is to say it isn’t OK to kill dumber mammals.
I find your articles just a way to justify what you are doing so you can feel OK.
Just wanted to say that I agree with everything you have written here Susan.
And likewise when I eat a plant, I don’t kid myself that the worms, beetles, ants and their families did not know (on a physical and vibrational level) that I was killing them. I also don’t kid myself that the plant did not know I was killing it (and family members) for my food. We now have hard scientific proof that plants communicate with each other and show emotion and intelligence.
Until we can convert sunlight directly into energy, we are ALL killing sentient life to feed ourselves. This article seems to me to be about the honesty and the owning of that killing.
Thanks for your honest response, Susan. I wrestle with all of this, along with what Jini has mentioned above, and I haven’t yet found a way out of the karmic wheel when I consider all life forms. If you have one I’d love to hear about it!
There is no sugar that can coat the taking of a life; that is certainly not my intention.
You seem to be a puppet at this point with you karmic wheel.
It boils down to being a choice.
I look at it this way. If you have to pull yourself away from the animals emotionally that are going to be killed then something in your heart and soul is speaking to you. You need to listen.
If you can’t do the killing yourself and you are pulling away from the animals emotionally you shouldn’t be eating meat. You are being a hypocrite.
In Europe they eat horse meat just like it was beef – no big deal to them. There is a big market for horse meat. If you are eating pigs, chickens etc, then you should also eat horse meat and dogs. There is no difference. It is a cultural thing in different parts of the world what they kill and eat.
Why are you not eating your horses and dogs? Have you ever stopped to think of that?
I think about how the animals I know treat death. My dogs and cats thoroughly enjoy hunting, playing with, killing, mice, rats, birds, moles, bunnies. There is no remorse or complications about taking another life for their food.
But, they didn’t hunt or kill the guinea pigs that lived with us – even when they were loose on the back lawn. Is that because they felt they were part of our family, or because they knew WE would be upset?? I think more of the first option – because they don’t stop hunting a bird just because I get upset.
So then what does that mean for us? Would animals themselves find it more ‘humane’ for us to NOT kill inner circle/family animals? But would it be okay (in their eyes/hearts) for us to kill the animals we didn’t have relationships with – beyond caregiver?
If we take away the human/animal differential and we say, hey, we are ALL just earthlings and there are many species of earthlings that must eat meat (preferably raw) to thrive and reproduce, then that takes the conversation in a different direction.
Kesia I am so sorry that Susan has decided to not become bigger then her ignorance and fears. For if she had truly read your post with an open heart she would have heard and felt the authenticity and sincerity in your words. And if she was going to be even bigger she might have learned some of the understanding you have come to develop in the great circle of life. She has obviously never stood in the shoes of someone who had to look at taking life. She probably hasn’t decided to live a self sustaining life either, and if she has, cudos to her! It was her decision to eat only plants – I’m wondering if that’s because it is easier for her to justify taking the life of a plant then an animal.
I hope that you have no more negative feedback on this topic that, I believe, most people haven’t resolved within themselves. It’s just so easy to stick our heads in the sand and not truly see another’s side of the story. And Susan, if you are reading this post, I recommend Arnold Mindell’s books, any of them actually, but particulary ‘Working with the Dreaming Body’. This is not a book about life and death, but rather cause and effect – you might learn something!
Also Susan, my husband and I manage a large cattle station in Central Australia. We take our responsibility very seriously. We are not some John Wayne type either! Every animal is chosen by mutual agreement – and only someone who has spent a lot of time becoming spiritually and emotionally mature are you able to do that truly. Every animal that we have taken the life of for meat has willingly, walked into the killing box. Like you said, these animals are extremely intelligent and their sensitivities allow them full knowledge of what has happened there before and what will happen to them now. You see they feel the vibration of what has happened and if they willingly walk into the box and quietly stand as my husband lovingly climbs to the top of the box, mummering his thanks and appreciation for this animal giving his life for us to live – would that not mean that this animal is at peace with what is about to happen to him? And that all animals who have gone in there before felt peace and serenity?
And Susan, no I won’t be reading your reply, thank you!
Tamara, it took me absolutely ages to reply. I am floored by your commitment even in what I assume is a commercial situation. That you’re out there working this way while I struggle to find my path through it all is pretty special. Thank you thank you for sharing. The negative feedback is actually really interesting to me. It teaches me more about how we function morally, how conditional, ambiguous and personal those morals are, and how we each attach to our perceptions of what is right and think that we might be absolved of the rest of it if we just push hard enough in these directions. I don’t count myself out of that observation. But I think I just want to see more of us opening our hearts to the massiveness of it all, and admit we can’t have every answer tidy and complete.
I thought that plants don’t have a central nervous system or brain and therefore can’t feel pain? I’m not a expert but it seems that the large majority of them report this. I think it’s cool that they can respond to stimuli, like to face the sun and stuff, though I find it a bit odd when people compare plants to animals.
If you stab both a zucchini and a dog with a knife at the same time, and just watch what happens, it would be pretty obvious that there is no comparison. One would start bleeding and crying and would need to be rushed to the hospital and the other would literally just sit there. lol I think there is no comparison and it’s insulting to the dog to say we can eat it because otherwise we’d have to eat a plant instead, which also has feelings, so sorry dog I might as well just eat you because either way someone will get hurt. There is no comparison in the “hurt”.
Well, for that we would have to enter a lengthy discussion of:
1. Is pain ONLY experienced in those with a central nervous system?
2. What is pain?
I could write an entire blog post on each point (at least!). In one of my health books, I have a section where I teach people suffering from abdominal pain that is so severe they either pass out or are taken to hospital to have their intestines ‘frozen’, HOW to change their experience of pain, so that it no longer ‘hurts’ but is simply a message from the body communicating information.
People used to think horses were fine during all kinds of procedures, because they don’t show pain the way humans do. Plants do indeed show fear, anxiety, pain if they are hooked up to the proper electrodes that can make visible to the human what they are feeling. So then where are we? And check this out:
Hi Jini, thanks for sharing! The article about the bullying experiment is definitely interesting!
I do feel that for this type of moral decision, it is more important for me to listen to my gut than what a scientist picked up with electrodes in a lab. If my gut starts to turn at the thought of having to take the life prematurely of a random animal in the forest, but it doesn’t turn at the thought of picking a random ripe apple off a tree, it’s telling me something valuable. And yes I obviously have had some sort of cultural conditioning in my life, but usually children (who have the least amount of conditioning) are the first ones to stand up for an animal that their parents or grandparents are trying to murder (there are several heart breaking videos online). I’ve never heard of any child or anyone trying to save the life of a vegetable, I just think sometimes our instincts know better than the “professionals” sometimes.
Yep, I’m all for listening to your gut for sure! Your comment made me think about how many kids instinctively kill insects… and scream at mice/rats but coo over guinea pigs.
And how we call a brain-dead human a “vegetable”
But also, if you’re tuned into your gut (not your brain, cultural conditioning, moral precepts, etc) then your gut will definitely guide you in what your body wants/needs to eat – your own, unique body has more wisdom than any scientific research for sure!
Thanks for sharing!
Maybe my instincts are slightly conditioned by moral precepts too!
I still think it’s morally superior not to kill animals unless absolutely necessary. If it happens because you drove over an ant by accident versus you purposely stepped on it to kill it, I think there is a difference.
But thank you for being a meat eater who cares about where your food comes from and tries to do the least harm possible because most eaters couldn’t care less!
P.S. I’m not sure if this will help your research on if it’s possible to be as healthy without consuming animals fats, but there is a great website called nutritionfacts.org with summarizes nutrition related studies posted to pubmed. I found a lot of interesting stuff on there! Some may be biased but most not!
Thank you Sara, that is a fantastic resource – FINALLY an intelligent discussion of lectins!!
Here’s an article you might find interesting:
She has a choice and she is choosing to eat meat. You don’t know what pigs know, or plants know, or even what other people know. If you are upset by these articles I suggest you read something else that you can agree with whole heartedly without having to attack the author, whom you don’t know.
I doubt your intention is to troll this thread, but reading your comments below makes me think you are changing the subject, and bringing attention to yourself and your own point of view. This is what trolling is. You are free to write a beautiful blog of your own.
beautiful writing on a complex, deep, post. thank you for putting it out there.
I meant to say deep TOPIC. Beautiful writing on a complex, deep, multilayered topic. Thank you for putting it out there.
Thanks for reading, Kate. I knew what you meant 🙂
Its never easy, and when I have killed an animal and eaten it there is that unsolvable paradox at the heart of it, killing to live.
To love the animal and to be grateful for its life while at the same time being the agent of its death.
The truth is we as humans have a choice. We don’t need to kill to live as you said above. It is a life style choice that you made.
yes, as I said above, it is a choice. An informed, complex, nuanced and highly ethical choice. We do need to kill to live, whether plants, or animals, or little children and their parents in far-off countries who are absorbing toxins and shortening their lives as they assemble the goods we buy oh-so-cheaply.
Reading that sent my gut into a knot of horror. Susan said it more eloquently than I could but like her I would say there is no difference whatsoever between killing and eating your pigs to killing and eating your dogs or horses and so, absolutely no way to logic or justify it.
I’m sorry you were horrified by this beautiful and tragic story. I suggest you grow a pair and join us in this intricate dance that is life on this planet
Lol. The identification of ‘growing a pair’ with strength? Ya might like to look at that one again. Thoughtful and well written piece but maybe do me the courtesy of allowing me my feelings about it without being needled into vulgar abuse. Just sayin’
What a wonderful gift of honesty and vulnerability to share with your readers. I name and keep my laying hens after they have stopped laying and receive great joy from my conversations with them and gratitude for their large eggs. My meat birds are reaching the time where they will be entering my freezer and I also have the same conflicting thoughts of how I rationalize the different way I “care ” for them. Thank you for putting this struggle out in the open.
the instant I opened the page, the tears burst ..I wrote and wrote,,, then it ‘disappeared’ ..oh,well ..I want to just pour my love and appreciation of your tender beauty right back into your burst open Heart. . oh, maybe I can re -write what it was ,,, but my Best Friend here, this wild old bearded Hafez guy, who all ways kisses me until I remember once again how god I AM,,, and then he tickles me and we dance and joke once more,,,, has this to say… (Besides the fact that he and I and the entire Cosmos are on our knees adoring your burst-open-ness…..”Buttering the Sky”;
Slipping On my shoes,
Buttering the sky,
(kissing goats and pigs pouring tears into the earth,)
That ‘s enough contact
With God in one day
To make anyone
Crazy.” Oh may we all be completely crazy by this world’s standards..,,may we all play well, in this Divine, wonder-full game. this life, on Earth. xoxooxo sheila
what a lovely fabulous wonderful poem of a creature you are!
Thank you for sharing your experience. I feel your struggle both physical and emotional. I grew up and worked long and hard on a farm and enjoyed and suffered and grew and was constantly appreciative and humbled even as a small child. I agree that in the universal picture there is no difference in what or who we are killing. We are all killing in order to live, even animal activists. But it does matter to each of us to not kill some and ok to kill others. We just need to do the best we can in what is right for us and that is what it sounds like you are doing. Keep on living and loving❤️
You too Martha <3
We kill off bacteria when we heal from an illness. Bacteria are social, sentient, intelligent, and communicate with each other.
The implications of this are so expansive in every direction, I think. They point out all our false hierarchies and the thorough connection life has to death.
Thanks for joining in the dance...
I really appreciate you writing about this difficult, difficult territory. I became vegetarian at 14, was a vegan for 8 years, have argued passionately for not requiring animals to give their bodies and lives to our food pleasures…. And yet as the years have rolled by, 44 of them in fact, I’ve seen more and more how it’s all a lot more complicated than black and white, right and wrong, and there is no moral high ground on which to stand. As you say, there are ethical issues around how any food is produced, and sadly there is no suffering/consequence free option. I think we are left needing to factor in as many facets of food production and distribution as we can and aim to minimise the harm we cause. I do believe there is a fundamental line between taking life and other sorts of harm, and the more the being is sentient and capable of suffering then the worse it is to take their life without very good cause. I agree that we can learn a lot about our relationship to sentient animal eating by noticing how we feel about the prospect of eating sentient animals that culturally we would not normally eat – for us that could be horses, dogs, cats. I feel that it is vital that we consider our eating options thoughtfully, that we do not take life lightly – and that we also recognise, as you so movingly do in this piece, that there is no simple answer that is pure, irreproachable, causes no harm. We can only do our best, in the ever changing context of our lives, to be honest about the consequences of our choices, to take responsibility for them, and to try to cause as little harm as we can and create as much good as possible.
I love what you’ve written here Katannuta – and also the tone in which you’ve written it. I think you will have a much greater impact on meat-eaters – to stop, to think, to be open to awareness – than all the raging voices out there.
My cousin asked me similar questions:
Would you eat your dog? “No.”
Would you eat your dog’s babies? “No.”
Would you purposely raise your horse’s babies for meat? “No.”
Once I have a personal relationship with an animal, or a plant, I could not kill it.
And yet, I see my hyprocrisy everywhere. I have done everything I can to protect the old-growth cedars in my horse pasture. I meditate with them, I share the words they speak to me, I have them tagged in government files to hopefully prevent them from being cut down. And yet… my house is made of wood. I will always choose wood furniture over toxic plastic. So… I can kill other trees, but not them? How does that make any sense??
I could never kill my horses for meat (unless my whole family was starving and they TOLD me to – if they didn’t tell me to, then we would all transition/die together). But I have ordered 1/4 cow from the farmer down the road (pasture-raised – a GOOD life while it lasted) to feed my family for the winter. More hypocrisy.
I feed my dogs their natural diet of raw meat. They hunt rabbits, rats and moles as well – I do not and would not stop them. One of the sickest dogs, in the most pain I’ve ever seen was a ‘vegetarian’ dog. Some could call that animal abuse.
What I appreciate so much about Kesia’s article (that I asked her to write for us) is that she has SO bravely brought this struggle, this dilemma, this hypocrisy (of taking life to sustain our own) out into the open.
Because I think there is tremendous value in open dialogue – not ranting, but true, vulnerable sharing. Thanks so much (and to many others here) for having this conversation/exploration. Namaste.
Thank you Katannuta, this is so thoughtful and eloquent and honest and real. I always say, make the choices that feel right to you, but don’t think you’re absolved henceforth and forever. Engage, engage, engage. The closer we are to our food the shorter the chain of suffering – indeed, we can just about eliminate it (never absolutely) with careful choices. But not all of us can afford the time, money or other choices for every single ingredient…and few of us have the monk-like commitment to engage entirely…. so your last sentence says all I could ever say on the subject! “We can only do our best, in the ever changing context of our lives, to be honest about the consequences of our choices, to take responsibility for them, and to try to cause as little harm as we can and create as much good as possible.”
Oh my gosh Kesia!! So beautifully said! Your eloquence and exactness in describing the indescribable was exquisitely perfect . I have struggled to, so much, to explain to those who are not connected to the earth, to their food, to anyone or thing much how we can love, honour, respect, raise our animals, plants and food with unconditional love meeting all of their needs as best we can – to then turn around and take their lives to sustain ours. You are right, in that moment of connecting with big boy, you are right, he died happy not knowing the pain so many other animals do in co-existing with people at this time.
Thank you for bringing perspective, beauty, love, gratitude and harmony to my life this day.
Thanks for this as well, Tamara. I live in a primarily indigenous community and can’t help but wonder what people’s views are on indigenous tradition and food-gathering when they vilify all meat eating. I also live in a very cold climate where meat was and still very much is a staple through the 5-7 month winter, when nothing calorically significant grows. Farming is different from wild harvesting…but not that different, when the animals (and plants!) are afforded enough space and nourishment to live out their natural instincts and connect with their true selves. The main difference is our close relationship to them – and if I have to shoulder the emotional pain of this exchange, I am more than willing to do that if it means they live a beautiful life and die a sudden death on the land they were born on. I do think it’s something you have to do to understand – until recently, I was honestly not okay with my plans and decisions. When people ask me about it, if they really want to know, I tell them it just changes everything when you actually participate in the terrible, beautiful dance of life on earth. Much love to you and your family, and all the beings you care for.
oh goddesses this whole sharing here, all of it,, is a rich banquet of deep and de-lish-us human Be-ing ness. I want to honour the Wanting, the Longing , of all the Hearts I feel here. Kesia’s wanting to be Big Enough to hold it all, her wanting to participate with Heart fully open,,, yet feeling ‘not enough’, yet. I want to honour the wanting, the Longing of our tender, aching, Precious, Human-ness. the longing to Not Cause suffering. the longing to not want to kill other beings,, the longing to be Peace, to find some satisfactory, heart-assuaging re-assurance in this mish mash, perennial uncertainty of life on this Sacred Planet of Free Choice. our very longing, is enough. That we can feel the depths that we feel, is enough. it really is. Our very life, is enough. yet we struggle and strive for the Elusive…. something, what, this or that? and, it feels so good so juicy, this searching of the Self, probing the depths of the Heart. Because we must, we must keep mining these veins for the pure gold of Love, which we are made of, which runs in our veins. all of us. every cell, every quantum particle has the pure gold of god/love/light/divine/spirit in it. it’s why we ache, and long for, and want and need. I just want to be in gratitude, bowing, celebrating… as if it were the Last Night on Earth. Love to you all,, xoxoo sheila
yup yup yup yes, can we long for that sweet purity AND know we will not attain it, not if we are purely honest and sweetly starkly open to the bare truths of physical existence? can we not be enough and still be, and be with that? can we turn toward, instead of away, and see what things truly are, and wield ourselves with better and better skill, and somehow find ourselves closer to the obscene and the sacred?
I agree with Susan, although Katanutta put it a lot nicer. People get all hot and bothered about horse slaughter and call it immoral, and wouldn’t even think of eating a dog or cat, and yet they will eat pork, chicken and beef. What makes a chicken, pig or cow less deserving of life than a horse or a dog? I have pet chickens, and the thought of eating one of them makes me sick, however, I can not dictate to someone else what they do with their chickens, because God has given us permission to eat meat. I am not going to judge Kesia for slaughtering her pigs and chickens, it is not a sin. At least her animals had dignity while they lived. Most of us go the comfortable grocery store and buy our prepackaged meat that comes in nice little squares and rectangles, without a thought from where it came from. That being said, any kind of slaughter saddens me. It is our fault that the world is in the mess it is in. In the beginning God made everything perfect. There was no pain, death, suffering or sadness.
God created humans and animals to eat plants, fruit, nuts and seeds. Not each other. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and brought death and decay into the world. It was only later, because of human sin and disobedience that the eating of meat was permitted.
Eating meat is not natural, and I look forward to the day when Jesus Christ, the savior of humankind, will come back and make all things new. We need Him because we have all sinned and broken God’s holy laws. We have all lied, been envious and jealous, wanted what does not belong to us, looked with lust, and hated others in our hearts. God sees hatred as murder. We are all guilty and will be sent to a place of darkness and torment, because God can’t allow sin in His presence. That is what we deserve. However, God so loved the world that He made a way for us to be forgiven of our sins against Him. He put on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, and allowed Himself to be sacrificed on our behalf, so that His shed blood would cleanse us of our sins against Him. If we turn from our sins and put our trust in Jesus Christ alone to save us, we will be granted eternal life in paradise. That means we must humble ourselves and admit we can’t do it on our own at all. We can never be good enough. Turn from and confess your sins to God. Trust in Christ alone today, please. You may not have tomorrow.
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
7Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
9They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
And don’t forget that right after that idyllic interlude… “they will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west; together they will plunder the sons of the east; they will possess Edom and Moab; and the sons of Ammon will be subject to them. And the Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; and He will wave His hand over the River with His scorching Wind; and He will strike it into seven streams, and make men walk over dry-shod.” (Isaiah 11:14-15)
Yes, the wrath of God will come upon the unrepentant, wicked and they will go to a place of wailing and grinding of teeth. I can’t change anyone’s mind here, I am only responsible for warning people of the wrath to come. Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me. ” Jesus also said(John 3:36 )
… “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the
Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” … Take it or leave it.The Bible tells us that the message of the cross is foolishness and a stumbling block to many. It is your choice if you choose the darkness rather than the light. I have conversed with some fierce atheists Jini, your reply is not surprising, I have heard it all. xoxoxo
Karen, everyone here is welcome to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions – no matter how divergent. We will only intervene if someone is blatantly shaming or name-calling others. I understand what it’s like to fear for and care deeply about others’ souls. I taught Sunday School for years, was an evangelist with Campus Crusade for Christ – and my driving motivator was not wanting others to suffer in hell, and to be able to experience the powerful relationship with God that I had. So I get it. And I’m not an atheist. Personally, I have moved beyond religion and dogma. I have left the church, but I have not left God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. I don’t expect you to agree with, or even understand my position. I’m good with that. I strive to hold only love and compassion for all belief systems.
I too look forward to the time when none of us earthlings have to eat each other in order to live well. Perhaps this is evidence that plants are the most advanced sentient beings on our planet; as they can convert sunlight directly into energy and are the only creatures that don’t need to eat someone else to thrive.
I too have made that very difficult transition. Its all so much bigger than dogmas. A whole new landscape full of wonder, compassion,loveand pain and so much more. The freedom of being responsible for my own journey and not the whole of humanity (salvation etc) is so liberating.
I also live on the land and have grappled with much of what has been bravely and honestly shared here.
I have come to see that all is energy changing form from one expression to another.
Its my attachment to certain forms that makes it tricky at times.
I just love how everyone in general has been so open,accepting and gracious in this discussion. Beautiful folk you are! Thankyou it makes my heart feel grateful.
Much love to you all.
Jai, I feel for you, 😟 xo
Thank you for sharing, Erin! It’s this beautiful/heart-wrenching work of holding everything and letting it all go at the same time, honouring our attachments while picking their little claws out of our flesh and engaging with the truths of more complex natures than we care to acknowledge. I’m so humbled and warmed to be muddling through with all of you, whether we know it or not we are all linked by the earnest attempt to Be With it all.
I too feel humbled,warmed and such an affinity with folk here. And not so alone anymore, yay!
Big hugs to you lovely one.
Yep – this is pretty much IT:
“I have come to see that all is energy changing form from one expression to another.
Its my attachment to certain forms that makes it tricky at times.”
You’ve nailed it right there. And then Kesia’s elaboration: “picking their little claws out of our flesh”
And then we have these experiences of energy in certain forms and we are compelled to language it, and we think that it must always and ONLY be called by that name, or those words. And then other people read our words and say, “Yes, THAT is THE truth” and bam, we’re mired in dogma. Again.
All us crazy humans in our crazy hologram of reality 🙂
Jesus quite famously served a whole lot of fish, did he not?
So very beautiful and heartfully written! I have tears streaming down my face right now as I am still fresh with the passing of 3 horses this year, one – my beloved Prowler and the other two not mine but still in my heart. Coming to peace with death, all death, that which we cause and that which we witness… is an art form that only truly living and feeling can manifest.
dear Jai, Kesia, all Beings here….thank you, for sharing your tender hearts, i honour your journey, your profound and vast coeur-age. it is a great, great honour, privilege and response-ability to participate in Life on Earth, to participate with a Being, in their transitioning from form to spirit, in their leave-taking of the body, in Be-coming Light. it is no small thing. May we come, to Peace. love to all….xoox sheila
May we come to Peace, or just keep on trying and trying. <3 you sheilabean
Thank you Jai. Wishing the deepest kind of sweetness for you heart and any wounds left from your loss.
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Thanks Kesia, for a beautiful and vulnerable post. Ever since I worked on some farms in northern California, Oregon and Washington in the 90s and took care of pigs myself, I’ve had many feelings come up around eating pork and other meat. You so very beautifully articulated many of my own feelings and I really appreciate that. Most people don’t want to address the things you describe and so they block out the feelings, or criticize those who are willing to lay it all out there. I for one thank you for putting words to feelings that are very hard to allow and express.
You’re so right about that, Marcus – that people block out these complex and uncomfortable feelings, or turn them into false dichotomies: “this” or “that”, with nothing in between… because it’s friggin hard, feeling all the feels! I get it! But thanks for feeling the feels with me – even though it hurts sometimes, it can also make the world burn a little brighter.
This remains to this day and all days one of the most moving and meaningful things I have ever read. I share it everywhere.
Thanks for your comment – you just made me read it again too! And all the comments afterwards. All a precious gift 🙂
Katrina, thank you. This means so, so much to me.
That just left me with a dozen more questions!! Would love to know if they discovered any further information. I would also like to know what kind of conditions the pigs were kept in… Did they have enough space to forage and express natural behaviours? Or were they kept in a jail pen to slowly go mad? If you find anything else on this case, please let us know!
My place in Oregon is two rivers over from the Coquille. The Coquille river valley is a beautiful fertile valley that has dairy farms and sheep farms. People are farmers there. In the winter the river valley floods like the Nile. Some people go from their house out to their barns in row boats.
This happened in the late Spring in 2017. The pigs lived in a pen in the barn and could go outside. In this article you can see a picture of where they lived. Mature hogs are huge and can be aggressive, and as I happen to know, are obsesed with eating.
Here is what it said in the Register Guard. If you are sensitive do not read further.
” Garner was at his farm near rural Riverton road last Wednesday, when a family member went looking for him, according to The Register-Guard.
Garner’s dentures were first spotted inside the hog enclosure, and then other random body parts were located — although most of him had already been devoured, the newspaper added.
The Coos County Sheriff’s Office has a couple of theories on what occurred: Garner could have suffered a medical emergency, such as a heart attack, leaving him in “a position where the hogs could consume him,” according to a statement.
In another scenario, the swine — weighing about 700 pounds each — may have knocked Garner down, overwhelming him before killing him, authorities said.
It’s unclear exactly how many pigs live on the farm, but police believe one of them had been aggressive toward Garner before. ( yes, a sow had bitten his son).
Pigs are omnivorous, and have previously been known to feast on people.
The 56-year-old wife of a pig farmer in Romania was knocked unconscious and eaten in the animals’ sty, UPI reported in 2004.
Her ears, half her face and fingers had been ripped off, a doctor said.
picture of the hog pen here> https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/hungry-hogs-eat-oregon-farmer-article-1.1172448
Yeah, ever since watching the movie Snatch (where the bad guy disposes of human bodies in a questionable manner) I’ve been aware of this possibility, haha. I’ve also heard of pigs eating chickens when they’re together, but in our mixed barnyard the chickens steal their food and sit on them without any apparent consequence. I think most pigs are kept in a state of deprivation of some kind, whether that is food, water, company, comfort or space, or many/all of the above. That could make them crazy, desperate, vindictive, bored, angry, or anything else.
Our pigs are friendly and sweet, but if I dropped dead/became unresponsive in their enclosure I wouldn’t expect them NOT to eat me… I mean… they are omniviorous, and opportunistic, and at that point I would be meat… seems logical to me…
I don’t know… would a lion automatically eat their caregiver they love if s/he dropped unconscious? I think the pigs are kept in small enclosures without the opportunity to express natural behaviours, so this makes them a little loco. Think of how far yours range and the variety of experiences, textures, creatures, food/forage etc they experience in an average day. Then look at the picture of this guy’s small pen. Day after day. Only thing that happens is mealtime. Otherwise their lives are void.