A Second Look at the Line

I wrote back in early February about that line between livestock and pets. I was pretty sure that’s how I felt. Pets you name and interact with and livestock you don’t. That is until these kids came along. It’s easy with chickens. They thrive without our attention. The kids aren’t the same. Maybe it’s that mammalian connection?

The plan all along was to use the kids for meat. People asked “Why don’t you sell them?” Well, they aren’t papered so they aren’t worth much. The only people that would buy them are people that would eat them. And to be honest, if someone was going to eat them I want to make damn sure it’s done humanely and the only way to do that is if we have it done ourselves. Keeping them isn’t an option either. We can’t keep them here, there just isn’t room.

Mork wanting to come sit on my lap

This is, of course, the downside to having a dairy animal. With milk usually comes death, especially for any male animals that are born. Simply buying milk helps support the veal industry.

So it’s something I’ve come to terms with. But I’ve also realized something else. Why can’t livestock be treated as pets? Why can’t they be given love just like our regular pets? Why can’t they have names? They have personalities and I think it’s only fair to give them a moniker of their own. We won’t be as close to them as we are to our dogs and cats, but we’ll treat them with the same respect.

These kids are so friendly. They love to jump in your lap and be held. The second you sit down they run over to get some love. Mork will climb all over you and nibble your hair. Mindy likes to crawl in your lap and fall asleep. Mongo isn’t quite used to us yet, but we’re working on him.

Of course I’ll be sad when they have to leave us, but I know it is inevitable and I want them to have the best life possible even if it is short.


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  1. I agree whole heartedly. it's better they live with love. They will have lived a healthy, wonderful happy (if short) life. And as we are what we eat, Id much rather eat happy meat then misserable, scared, sick, unhappy meat from a factory farm.

  2. Samantha says:

    You've touched on something I feel strongly about.
    I have no issue with eating meat, but that animal has to live well and die humanely.
    Obviously, the kids desire human attention. To deny them that, while easier on the humans, would be unkind.

    Amazing, incredible job you're doing!!

  3. I don't think eating meat should ever be too convenient or easy, because it implies an inherent disconnect from reality: meat comes from living animals with feelings and personalities, and they die so that we can eat them. I think it's very important to respect the gravity of that choice.

    And yes, I eat meat. But grieving for the death of the animal is part of the process for me, and is the only way that being an omnivore makes sense to me.

    I have a HUGE amount of respect for the way you keep your farm, Rachel. Your empathy and connectedness is commendable.

    Thank you for sharing ALL of the parts of this journey with us.

  4. Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    If it didn't bother you, then I'd worry. The difference is, by raising meat animals ourselves, we think beyond the styrofoam and plastic wrappers. Most don't. We know where our food comes from. Most don't.

    Here we spoil our creatures rotten, and we believe they deserve it. If you wanted to eat meat that had been ignored while it was raised, you could buy that from a market. I take a great deal of pride in providing our animals with a far superior life to that endured by those in CAFO situations. I must admit though, I'm not sure I personally could do meat goats, but I wasn't sure I could do turkeys either. However, as we'd like to add goats to the farm, we're well aware that an excess of boys is something we will have to address one way or the other. For now I say enjoy them, and have fun with them, they deserve it, and so do you.

  5. Sparrow says:

    Absolutely! We joked that all our meat kids were named "Butch" because they were going into the freezer someday, but we didn't hold back on the loving attention, play, and joy we gave and got from them. And we grieved, gently and with gratitude, for the gifts they gave us when it came time for them to fulfill their destinies.



  6. Amy McPherson Sirk says:

    Great post! There are people in my circle of friends who have stopped talking to me because I killed my extra roosters and ate them. In their minds I'm sick and twisted but the irony is that none of them are vegetarians. They just can't handle the truth about where there food comes from. I agree that it is so much better to give an animal the best life possible, especially if it is destined for the dinner table. Dealing out death should be unpleasant. I cried the day I slaughtered our chickens. I held them close and thanked them for the gift of their bodies to feed my family. Keep up the good work. Maybe someday folks will "get it".

  7. I was just talking about this in an interview today. It seems to me that people want to hold onto these childhood storybook notions of animals and turn their backs to the reality of where meat comes from. there's nothing wrong with loving your meat. i think it's more humane.

  8. I found myself starting to name this current group of chicks and started to stop myself, but then decided that since the first group was named almost 2 yrs ago, so shall this one. So far the dark cornish is called "Hazel".

    If I am going to dispatch and eat an animal I've raised, I am going to do it from a place of respect and appreciation, and giving names to these creatures is part of that process for me.

    My impression is that there's always been some inner conflict in meat-consumption; meat which wasn't harvested by opportunity, but by design, that is. We're being reminded of why this form of protein is symbolic and important, when we go back to basics and raise animals.

  9. Kristina says:

    I'm a vegetarian, but I wish all meat eaters thought about these things as much as you guys do.

  10. I'm also a vegetarian, but I have total respect for you and others that are humanely raising their own meat. Those going to the supermarket for factory farmed meat, and then critizing you are hypocritical. One thing to keep in mind, is that everyone animal dies sooner or later. To me, quality of life has always been more important than quantity. I enjoy your blog very much. Nancy R

  11. Great post. Really makes me think. Good for you for being so open and honest (with yourself) with your thoughts during this process.

  12. Litte M Farms says:

    I wanted to commend you on your thoughts. Every rabbit we have meat or other is treat NO differently. I love them all, and when it is time for them to go, I know that they have been given the best care I can give them!
    Little M Farms

  13. This is why we don’t grow our own meat. I haven’t been able to get there, and maybe I won’t. Our goats and Llama are rescues and they are pets, so our chickens for that matter. Now I agree that it’s the best way to get meat, you know what they ate, they have been loved, and a good life, i’m just wimpy. Our friends that name and raise there meat, think we are a bit odd and love us anyway. So for now, we have livestock ( chickens included) that have names and will live out there lives as pets on our little farm, and while that’s happening at home we pay our friends for there ‘happy’ meat. :)


  1. [...] about how animals should be raised if we’re going to eat them. Back in April I wrote about that line between livestock and pets and how my view had changed, how maybe we should name [...]

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