The killing day had finally come. My friend's geese had matured and where now ready to dispatch, pluck, clean and package. The intention was that some of them would end up as roasting birds for Christmas day. I've not yet cooked with geese but I've heard it's a lovely roasting bird, so I accepted the offer to work in exchange for a handful of roasting birds as payment.
White down feathers flew through the air, pure, white, just like snow. The home made feather plucker spun on high rotation attached to the old electric drill, mounted on some car ramps. It couldn't get any more hillbilly. But it worked. My friends ingenuity may not look pretty but it's usually functional. We soon got into a rhythm, finding our roles and working through bird after bird. It became slightly mechanical. I thought for a moment that I'd turned into the person that I didn't want to be. Had I become desensitised to killing? It's been many years of literally killing things to eat them. Making the choice to discontinue outsourcing my killing meant the only way to acquire meat was to do the dirty work myself. Holding the large birds, alive, then slicing their throat, the warm blood covering my wrist, the last vestiges of life wriggling from the animal. There is no way I could be desensitised from that.
By midday the killing floor was covered with a mixture of white feathers and rich red blood. It's a reality that's not really promoted at the supermarket, where most of us buy our Christmas meat. I guess any company that's involved in the business of selling food would be mad to promote the reality of how said meat came to be in our shopping trollies. Most people in the disinfected western world, would not give a second thought to the reality that an animal was slaughtered. It's just there, in the supermarket fridge, wrapped in plastic. What seems to be most important is the price per kilo/pound. There is no information on the meat as to how the animal was raised. Where its travels from. What it's been fed. What medications its been treated with. Its a skewed reality.
In Australia, Christmas holidays mean hot summer. But it's at this time of year that snow covered decorations adorn houses, offices and schools. Snow in summer? It doesn't make sense. Sure up in America, Canada, England maybe. But down here it's hot as hell for Christmas. So why do we have this skewed view of a snowy Christmas? Why do we have a skewed view of what's important about Christmas food? Food in general? Why is this reality not known to the vast majority of people in the western world. Why does it anger people so much when I point this reality out?
Christmas is a wonderful time of year. It started as a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Whether you believe that or not, thats the reason why the 25th of December is celebrated. Can I ask though, has it turned into a celebration of consumerism? Walking through the isles of a department store to buy a kid's present is overwhelming. There seems to be a lot of unnecessary stuff around this time of year. I'm sure we could live without it. There seems to be a lot of stuff made in the asian region that ends up being purchased, used for a short while then disposed of. It's all heavily reliant on natural resources to create. Sometimes I wonder if its all down hill from here. Have we lost the plot completely? There will be some people that will consider it brutal for me to have killed live birds to eat. I'm sure there are people that will see me as barbaric. That is nothing I can change. Other people's views will be just that. Their views. But the reality is that I know the reality. I have blood on my hands.
I'm looking forward to roasting a few birds on Christmas day. I'm looking forward to celebrating with my daughters. I'm looking forward to that afternoon siesta. I think Christmas is a beautiful thing to celebrate. I just don't want to celebrate consumerism.
I wish everyone the best for the holiday season. I would like to thank many of you for your beautiful words of encouragement and support over the year. I thank you for your letters telling me of how your lives have been influenced one way or another. I want to thank you for giving me hope. That's the best gift. Until next year. Much love.