our take on life and death
Harvesting a turkey and having a death on your conscience is not something to be taken lightly. When we choose to end a life here on LTD Farm we are doing so with the full knowledge and realization that we have taken on the task of ending a life and transforming that life into food that will sustain our own lives. This process does not begin on the day that we harvest that animal, it begins back when we start to plan for the farming endeavors of the next year. On a farm your actions and daily work are directly determined by the seasons and you work within the constraints and parameters determined by them constantly. For instance, if we didn’t get the hoophouse built by the time the ground froze up, we wouldn’t be able to get it completed this season, and that would put our ducks and pigs, as well as next years vegetable production, at risk in this cold weather. So we can never ignore the seasons and the rhythms of the natural world. To do so would be perilous for our business at best, and completely destructive of our farm’s ecosystems at worst.
When you think of the farm as a whole interconnected system of food production, rather then a bunch of unrelated parts that require inputs and produce outputs, then you start to consider all the varied roles that the flora, fauna, and landscape play in the farm organism. This is a fundamental understanding of permaculture; that nothing exists in a vacuum, that everything exists in relationship with everything else. To build and expand these relationships is what creates good health in ecosystems, farms, communities, and businesses. Most commercial agriculture is an example of the folly of ignoring the value of these relationships, and we can see the results of such ignorance in the horrors of factory farming, the degradation of topsoil in mono-cropping, and the pollution of our aquifers and waterways by the use of poisons called pesticides and herbicides on industrial farms. We feel that it is imperative that we connect all the parts of our farming together into a cohesive whole, to offer an alternative to industrial ag by growing our small permaculture based farm into a sustainable business that can support our lives and others by providing delicious products that have been grown in a happy, healthy environment, as well as to help facilitate the growth of basic homesteading skills and experiences that will provide us and our community with security in a world of increasing oil prices and decreasing oil supply.
None of this would be possible without the complex interplay of flora and fauna on the landscape of our farm. Our take on animal products begins with the reality that we must consume life in order to continue our own, in many ways. We think that it is very important to understand that concept in order to develop a relationship with what you consume. Here on LTD Farm we want to acknowledge that we are taking something from the earth every time we pick a broccoli floret, harvest a turkey, buy a new tool, or feed the ducks. Then we give thanks to the plant or animal, and to the earth for such amazing generosity, and we strive to give back to the earth as much as we can. Our side of a relationship with the earth can be in the form of creating compost with 80% of our organic waste, or teaching others how to live lightly on the land. It can be by bringing like-minded folks together for a workshop, or planting a cover crop.
To get to the heart of the matter of life and death here on LTD Farm, we think that our animals are an integral part of our farm organism. When we commit to keeping animals on the farm, we commit to giving them the healthiest, happiest, and most fulfilling lives possible. We want to create a self-sustaining farm in as many ways as we can, and in order to do this sensibly we will choose to end the lives of animals that have come to the end of their productiveness, or are ready to be part of a customer’s dinner. With that in mind, we also commit to honoring their lives by utilizing their entire body as much as possible, and to give the rest back to the earth. The finality of death is certainly a scary thing, but it is in no way an unnatural event, and to recognize that death is simply a part of the life continuum of all creatures is very important. We believe that to die is to go back to the source and to nourish the earth once again in this ecstatic circle called existence. We give our animals the best possible lives that we possibly can, and end their lives with the quickest and most painless method that we know of, and this is all that can be asked of any life or death. None of us know when we will die until perhaps the very end, and neither do any of our animals. Meanwhile they live good fulfilled lives.
Our animals are happy, healthy, and loved. The milk from a goat and the eggs from a duck are miracles of nourishment derived from the miracle of life itself. The flesh from one of our animals is it’s last gift to us. To respect that gift is extremely essential to building a good relationship with our own death. We feel that the only ethical meat that should be eaten on this planet is from an animal that was loved and raised in a happy, healthy environment, and provided a quick and painless death. As a small farm we are just a speck of sand on the beach of agriculture, but even a speck of sand can get in your sandal and make you take notice, and to see that the beach is made up of millions of specks of sand. We all have the capacity to make serious decisions about our food every single day. We can connect the dots and make a constellation of small-scale growers/producers and cooks/customers, and create happy, healthy relationships all around us.
-Khaiti and Andrew