I was one of them . . .
I glanced up from my breakfast table and out the window saw, there on a stepping stone, was a Magpie eating its breakfast, too, and oddly, not more than two feet away stood a Robin intensely watching the action.
It surprised me to see those two ‘enemies’ so close to each other, yet also ignoring each other, and then saw, as the Magpie lifted its meal for another bite, that his meal was a still-living baby bird. There was no doubt that it was a baby Robin that had fallen from its nest. And the Mother Robin had to stand there and watch the cannibal Magpie ruthlessly eat it.
I hurried to my the door to chase that barbarian Magpie out of my yard, but stopped as I realized the baby would never live, and at the same time, another thought raced through my mind that halted me even more swiftly.
Like a flash, I had realized that there on my plate, waiting for me to eat, and which I had bought and prepared, were two sausage patties that had also come from a live animal. Yes, I knew my breakfast had come from a live pig that had been killed and turned into sausage, knowing full well that someone would buy and eat it, too.
And, dang it, I knew there was absolutely nothing different between me and the Magpie, except the different procedure in which fresh meat had arrived at each of our tables.
By then I’d lost all appetite for my sausages and decided they’d make a good meal for my cat. But what difference would it make?
Not too long ago, everyone in our valley, raised animals to be butchered and used for their meals. And I remember as a kid, when the neighborhood men would go to each other’s homes and work together to kill the animals they each had raised for that purpose.
Mom and Dad were very careful to see that we kids were in ‘the other side of the house’ from where the action was, but kids aren’t dumb, and I still remember the frantic squeals of our pig . . . . the one I had helped feed . . . . as the men caught and killed it. Yeah, they cut its throat, so it would bleed well, just as our Deer Hunting men do in the fields as soon as they get to the animal they just killed.
An awfully lot of people would immediately become vegetarians if they were in on the preliminaries, and even though the Hunt is fun, I’ve been around enough ‘hunters’ to know that the meat doesn’t taste good to them, until enough time has passed so they can separate the killing from the eating.
Sounds tough, doesn’t it? But Pioneer and country people lived close to life in all its forms and raising animals from just-born until they were large and aged enough to be good meat, was an accepted, and only, way of getting food for their tables. Just life and not even to be commented upon.
However, I didn’t like seeing it demonstrated, right there in my back yard, and especially while eating my breakfast, but I recalled my husband, going Duck or Pheasant hunting, and later, how the birds would appear on our table, and while I didn’t kill them, I was in on the preparation.
But I can tell you one thing. I could not eat a Mallard, Pheasant, Pintail, Teal, Quail, or Dove at my own table. However when my meat comes in a white plastic container and covered with plastic wrap, its far removed from the living animal it once was, and I buy and eat it.
Yes, and while roundly cussing myself with every bite, I also ate those wonderful sausages. It’s a vicious cycle, and I cringe when I know that there are some cultures where dogs, our Pets, also routinely appear on tables. It’s a funny world we live in, and I don’t mean ‘ha-ha’ funny, either.