Hobart was abuzz on the subject of animal ethics this week. Dark Mofo’s plan to bring Nitsch’s 150.Action here has challenged a lot of values. In all the hullabaloo, I can’t say I’ve seen much written about the purpose of the artwork although I gather it has something to do with ritual and sacrifice. Dying values, they don’t resonate with me these days having turned my back on my Pentecostal upbringing at 19. Walsh himself seems more interested in other value-positions, ‘I want the audience to ponder why meat for food is okay…but meat for ritual or entertainment isn’t.’
Topically, we held our first slaughter on #Blissfarm this week. It wasn’t art or free speech but it was an action. We’re meat eaters and we want to consume as ethically as possible.
From the get-go we were clear that the purpose of our animoolz was food. Friends who preferred to think of their meat as packaged in styrofoam and plastic were aghast. Others hated that we named our dinner. We were steadfast, we would care for our livestock and then slaughter them with as little stress as possible.
I remember Iain from Leap Farm once saying how you needed to speak in a comforting manner to animoolz to keep them calm. I’m an Aries, with no off button, but I’ve always tried to mute my excitement and speak to the animoolz consistently and gently. They have plenty of lush grass, water and the occasional treat (okay maybe more than occasional), and we socialise them, spending time with them regularly so they are used to us.
This Girl was overseas when they were slaughtered so I spent time with the animoolz the day before I left, feeding and patting them and saying thank you – for being lovely and for their lives given to feed us. Maybe that sounds trite, but it was important to me to recognise their contribution.
We chose a mobile butcher so the animoolz would not have to be transported to slaughter. The moolz went 100 metres from #paddock2plate. The unused offal and bones were buried on the land. We are already planning how to reduce the waste the next time around.
There’s a lot of meat when you slaughter a calf, two sheep and a pig. Snooz, Manager P and the Lovely Cathy wanted to watch the butcher and ended up helping us with the vast amount of meat that needed to be vacuum-sealed and packaged. It took the five of us around six hours to do everything from sealing bags to cleaning up. The Other Girl helped us finish the wrap-up, a huge relief at the end of a huge day. It seemed fitting to have the people we loved helping us out on such an important occasion.
The farm is quieter now. Rosie the cow, is still here, along with Stumpy and Cuddles the lambs, quail, and chickens including Hei Hei the rooster. He misses Freckles the pig and now lives in a tree near the sty and unceremoniously throws himself from the branches when you’re least expecting.
This weekend we’ve taken our first honey from our hives and I’m marinated some of our pork in it. I’ll serve it with Nashi pear sauce from the orchard and the Lovely Deputy’s cabbage that I’ll braise.
Is eating meat okay? Not really no. Even the butcher who shot our beasts declared it the worst part of the job and what would eventually turn him to vegetarianism (Like when he loses his teeth). While I continue to eat meat I really do feel better about looking the creature in the eye first, producing meat as fairly and sustainably as possible and most of all, respecting the animal.
I go to lots of MONA events but you won’t see me at 150. Action, because I feel like our 1. Action on #Blissfarm gives me all the perspective I need and I can stay true to my values.
For more on #blissfarm – Animoolz and Humans #4