It was asked “how do you do it?” In regard to raising some animal that you ultimately kill (or have killed) and eat.
I think it’s different with each animal, and probably each person. I’m not a big animal-lover. I don’t have indoor pets, I don’t have a cat or dog that adds a huge emotional value to my being (we have a dog and cat, and I like them fine, I’m just not terribly invested in them).
The first things we ever raised to eat we’re some turkeys. At the farm store we also got a duckling as a pet, so we could “love” it and not the turkeys. It turned out not to be much of a problem. 🙂 the turkeys were fun and weird, but the idea of turkey dinner was more fun. Aflac, our duckling, learned to swim in a paint roller tray.
She stayed with us for years, living loose in the yard, and was her own kind of fun. We occasionally found eggs to eat (this was before we had hens), she played in the sprinklers at night and was the loudest “watchdog” ever.
But we also could NOT keep her from sullying a wading pool for the kids, and some of her activities were icky enough that I wouldn’t have eaten her if I’d had the chance. When she was (probably) eaten by a hawk one fall, I felt bad for the circumstances of her passing, but didn’t replace her.
We raised geese one year, and at first I thought I was in trouble. They are the CUTEST little things, and even as they grow, they are SO soft and SO precious. We had 3, and they would eat clover and alfalfa leaves by the bushel. I moved them from their cage into an area enclosed by poultry netting and that afternoon one had stuck his head out through the net. Their natural response to that is to turn back and quickly corkscrew themselves to get free. Not surprisingly it had the opposite effect and the thing was tangled and strangled before we even knew what had happened. When a second one nearly did the same (while we were close by), we moved them to a different enclosure immediately. That was hard. But… As they grew to maturity they took to hanging out on the porch… And not just ANYWHERE on the porch, but right at the threshold. They would sleep there overnight and leave the BIGGEST piles of grassy goose poop you’ve ever seen. Like horse manure, I swear. We locked them in the backyard and they chose the tiny little wooden step at the BACK door. So I could nearly step in it with every load of laundry I hung out. :] I found I had a very fine line separating “the cutest things ever” to “evil beasts that deserve to die.” I wouldn’t mind them if I had a proper place to house them, but they weren’t ideal as free-rangers.
The first bottle calves we raised started 2 years ago and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about having something “cute, fuzzy, friendly” be processed. However, I feel a deep sense of purpose on their behalf. Filling my freezer was their destiny, and they lived an amazingly good and pleasant life until that point. They are dispatched quickly, at home, without the stress of travel or slaughterhouse smells. That is better than most animals can hope to experience. Feeding my family deug-free, grass-fed beef affordably is a HUGELY meaningful goal of mine, and that definitely factors. Their life is good, their “after-life” even better. 🙂
We did end up having to have my big lovely cow, Mae, processed last winter. THAT was harder than the rest, because it was definitely Plan B for her, and Plan A failed mostly because of me. We had arranged to haul her to an Angus bull, and I had some lovely neighbors bring their truck and trailer and help… For hours I tempted and cajoled and prodded to get her in that thing, and it could not be done.
Had I *owned* a trailer that I could set out there for 3 days, it might’ve worked. Her hooves also needed trimmed, and her horn rack would not allow her to be out in a squeeze chute for that purpose or artificial insemination. We cannot afford a pet that size that doesn’t produce an offspring yearly, so with some considerable thought and prayer, we went that route.
So I guess it is about purpose, destiny, quality of life, manner of death, and benefit to my family that factor into it for me.
Plus sometimes they’re a lot of work and you can’t wait to remove them from your daily chore load. 🙂