During the recent Ag and Art Tours, we met tons of nice people and gave many tours of our farm. One couple wanted to learn how to process chickens, so they returned on processing day, jumped right in and did a great job. I remember one other couple in particular, because when we got to the chicken processing overview (overview, not demonstration), the wife said “I don’t want to see that” to which I promptly asked “Why?” She explained that she too grew up around chickens, and she had terrible memories from her childhood of headless, bloody chickens running around the yard after her grandparents would ring the necks on processing day. So naturally she didn’t want to see anything about chicken processing. I paused for a moment because I could tell she was a little stressed about the idea and replied gently “well, we don’t do it that way.” After some encouragement from her husband, she agreed to let me describe our process and this is how it went.
As I stated at the beginning of your tour, we have a Biblical worldview. God created everything that is here, and the farmer’s responsibility is to be a good steward of God’s creation. All life is sacred, mankind first as they are the only creatures made in God’s image, and animals second. We respect human life by producing great food that will not hurt you when you eat it. We respect the animal’s life in the way we raise them and in the way we process them. Chickens, for example, have a good life here on the farm. At this point, I looked her in the eyes and plainly stated a fact; a fact that no matter your worldview, you cannot deny. “The fact is something has to die in order for you to live.” There is no getting around this. Killing animals is something we have to deal with, we cannot just ignore it. I went on to explain the overall process, starting with the killing cones, then moving on to the scalder, plucker and evisceration table. Absent from our process: no headless chickens running around the yard!
Afterwards, as they were about to leave, the husband pulled me off to the side and thanked me for taking the time to explain that. As I reflect on that encounter, I have to remind myself – always take time to teach.