Our modern culture seems to shy away from the decidedly un-pretty aspects of life. For all of the celebration of beginning a new life, birth is almost as unseen and separated from our daily existence as death. But when we decide to hide away these unsightly aspects of life in hospitals and factories (human birth and death and animal birth and death), what connections are we missing out on?
I have been vegan (previously, for about half of my adult life) and omnivorous. I have had home births and a hospital birth. Life is not tidy and sterile, with a one-size-fits-all right way to live.
This weekend for the first time after nearly nine years, I don't have any placentas in my freezer. After the births of each of my children, I had kept the placenta intending to bury it and plant a special bush or tree over it when we owned some land. So we planted placentas this weekend.
Camille still talks about seeing Sylvia being born and how she she touched the still pulsing umbilical cord attached to her baby sister.
On the same day, we butchered our first animal ever. I say we, but really it was Papa, bless him, while I was conveniently distracted with a phone conversation with my mom (Thanks, Ma!). Our rooster had become increasingly aggressive about attacking the children. He had been known to jump on their backs and peck at them, and even on occasion, draw blood. Well, he had fertilized many eggs that we are currently incubating, but we couldn't keep him around anymore as the children were scared to go outside.
Camille and Sylvia were excited to see him go, and also fascinated by the process. For my part, I made a stew with wild ramps and potatoes and broth and white meat from the rooster. Eating an animal that you have known is a completely different experience than purchasing chicken from the grocery store. The mere idea makes most people squeamish, but there is no more locally, sustainably, ecological, ethical meat than from animals that you have respectfully cared for on your own land. Why does this freak most people out? I'm not asking this judgmentally. It kind of freaks me out and I'm part of it. I just honestly wonder how we got so removed from our food sources that this seems crazy.
I grew up in the suburbs, I'm sure farm folk don't feel this way. I'm sure I won't always feel this way. And, well, this rooster tasted much more chicken-y than any (even free-range, organic) chicken from the store. Camille thinks it tastes gross, Sylvia is indifferent, and Ayla eagerly asks for "more roostah". I think it might become an acquired taste for me.
Sylvia peeling a rooster foot for the chicken stock / broth.
Now, I'm really excited to see those little chickies start hatching soon...
So, here we are, taking one tentative step closer to the source. The messy, glorious, scary, uplifting cycle of life and death that supports us (and really all life) on this planet.
Do you have any experience with placentas or connection to your food source that you'd like to share? Feel free to leave me a comment even if your opinions are very different from mine :)