My soul is stirring, conflicted between our human awe and admiration for life, yet a glaring perceived grotesqueness of death.
“The process of life, death, decay, and new life repeats itself in a beautiful chorus that have evolved to play a harmony with nature’s plan. We regard this process with great awe and admiration. We love everything about nature’s wonder and beauty with one glaring exception: death. We obsessively fixate on this one aspect of a much larger picture to the extent that we often fail to appreciate how spectacular the whole thing is. Further, many of us are so removed from the powerful reality of this cycle that we think it unnatural, cruel, or even grotesque for a human to take part directly in the process. We can accept a wolf or a lion dismembering its prey while still alive, but a human taking an animal’s life—even if in a humane and controlled environment—is seen differently. What is just a part of a beautiful equation far greater than our capacity to comprehend is often perceived as ugly, taboo, and even unethical.” - Taylor Collins, owner of Roam Ranch and previously Epic Provisions
We are fortunate enough to be able to field harvest our bison, it’s an important part of my unspoken pact with these animals—you are raised in a wholesome manner with access to plentiful water and grasses in a safe environment to raise your young with the understanding that you will have an honorable death in order to fulfill a further life sustaining purpose.
My heart still hurts when we take an animal’s life, it is heavy and my tears still come. Or if I find that a calf just couldn’t make it, the mother inside of me reels and makes me want to vomit at the thought of loosing a baby. I have been so removed from the reality of this cycle for most of my life, and I now confront it—-staggering.
I knew there needed to be a change in the way we eat meat, the way we see meat. It needed to be exposed and corrected. Instead of turning my head and becoming a vegetarian, I decided I needed to be the change. I wanted to honor these animals who were put here for an incredible purpose—to sustain life.
“[Large ruminant animals] support the ecosystems to which they belong, provide food for predators (including humans), and even help rebuild the soil with their innate behaviors. To honor an animal, we can celebrate how that animal was able to fulfill its purpose on this earth.” - Taylor Collins
It’s been a long week for me. We lost a beautiful little calf, mom stopped nursing her for some reason—maybe that was a first-time-mom learning curve? I’ll give mom the benefit of the doubt, because I have a soft spot as a new mom myself and because as a new farmer, I am still learning myself.
This morning we field harvested two animals in the quiet fog; one of those animals was from the first small group of seven we purchased and brought to our farm. She fractured her back leg in the squeeze chute during an annual health check years back and was never able to withstand being bred. She has been getting fat and bossing around the newbies since then, but I knew the time would come for her to sustain new life by becoming food.
My heart hurts today, it is extra heavy. A few deaths mingling with my soul, pulling at my mind. I pray the natural world knows my intent. My grief is a cold friend, but a friend none the less.