the feathers are spread out all over the gravelly ground. spatters of blood add color to a landscape dominated by browns, grays and soiled whites. the air is thick and the mood is somber. death hovers; tears perilously balance on the edges of eyelids. people of many ages stand with me–girls as young as 10 and older men and women in their thirties, even forties. and then, the people my age–we’re all here to bear witness, but we’re also here to make sacrifices.
the life of one chicken seems insignificant. chickens, after all, are certifiably stupid animals. they do little but walk around on their spindly little legs, clawing at bits of earth and, every so often, attempting to fly–a feat they cannot accomplish, in spite of the fact that they do indeed possess wings. a fairly low maintenance farm animal, even the smallest backyards can accommodate chickens and chicken coops. some chickens lay eggs, some chickens are pets, and some chickens are raised to be killed.
some people would call us murderers. standing on that ground smeared with blood and fallen feathers, the slitting of a neck and the squawking–those ceaseless high-pitched screams–as the only consistent sounds permeating the stiff air, it would be hard to argue otherwise. we raised these chickens, named some of them, fed them, loved them. and only to stand by each other, as we each take turns slitting their throats.
i do not derive joy from slaughtering chickens; rather, an emotional void takes over my body in the face of this action. but in the moments following their deaths, i am reminded that this road less commonly travelled is an important one: these killings will fill my stomach and the stomachs of many others. and at these times–when the animals die in my hands–i can eat honestly, filling my consciousness even more than my stomach.
Emma Thacker, Marlboro College ’14