Thursday, November 8, 2012

10-24 Slaughter

This little girl was very good at catching chickens.
Killing animals is something I expected to be dealing with a few times during my service.  I have been surprised that I have had nothing to do with it through my time here.  Until our CoS conference, I only saw an animal killed once.  It was not done very efficiently and turned me off of actually eating the meat.  At CoS, however, I got the opportunity to be involved in the process.
Opportunity is a bit of a strange word for me to put there as I do not at all revel in the idea of killing something but it is apt in this case.  In the developed world, we are separated from the food production process, especially when it comes to meat.  Through my philosophical explorations I have repeatedly confronted the dichotomy between eating meat and valuing all conscious creatures.  I decided that if I was willing to continue eating meat, I should also be willing to kill the animal I was going to consume.  Not that I think I should only eat animals I kill.  I simply needed to connect myself viscerally to the fact that eating meat means killing animals.  So, with that morbid philosophizing out of the way, on to the story.

Our doctor and her husband are Fijian.  They decided that they wanted to do a traditional Fijian roast for the CoSing volunteers.  We all chipped in to purchase two pigs and ten chickens (bought on the island and transported to Vila) which one of the staff members looked after while we were in our CoS conference.  After the final night on the cruise, four of us got up very early to slaughter the animals so they could have time to cook properly.  When we got to the staff member’s house to collect the animals, we found out that her daughter had gotten attached to one of the pigs and they wondered if we would be willing to trade.  We were happy to trade our scrappy island pig for a fatter Vila pig.  After the daughter and one of the other PCVs caught all the chickens, we were off to our training manager’s house to do the actual slaughter.

**Those of you who don’t want to read about the actual process of killing animals, skip to the end or the next post.**

Plucking is tedious work.
Everyone else, here we go.  Our training manager did the killing of the pigs.  This was with a hammer to the top of the head.  It worked perfectly well for the Vila pig but the island pig we still had hung on for a bit longer and eventually had its throat cut.  The next task is getting the fur off of them.  This is accomplished by pouring boiling water onto a particular area and the scraping the fur off with a knife.  A crude kind of shaving.  While the pigs were being cleaned, the rest of us worked on chickens.  Our training manager is not the best at killing animals it seems.  He favors the method of holding the chicken by the feet and cracking its head against a stump until it stops moving.  Unfortunately, this didn’t work so well for him and he had to do it multiple times when his chicken woke up again as he was plucking it.  Not sure why we didn’t use boiling water for the chickens, I hear it makes plucking them A LOT easier.  I definitely could have used it.  I went for the neck wringing tactic.  I am not terribly well practiced at it and took longer than I would have liked but was much more effective and cleaner than the others.  One of the volunteers apparently doesn’t know his own strength well enough.  He attempted the head against a stump method and accidentally decapitated the bird.  I didn’t know you could do that with a blunt object but there you go.  He proceeded to accidentally decapitate a second chicken while plucking its neck feathers.  We gave him a lot of grief and asked him what he had been practicing on his island.

**Descriptions of animal death finished**

Eventually we got all the animals cleaned and they were taken over to our doctor’s to be cooked.  It was DELICIOUS!

I suppose I'll close with more of the philosophizing in my reaction to the event.  I'm really glad I did it.  I still do not feel the need to eat only that which I personally kill or anything but I have done it.  Through working in the garden, I have gained a much deeper understanding of and connection to the process of getting non-meat foods.  Now I have that for meat as well.

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