Handy hubby shot a coyote today and I was his accomplice. I alerted him to the presence of the pack after having spotted them from my office window. I considered keeping it a secret and simply watching them prowl, maybe even taking out a few more of our chickens, just as I had a few days before.
He’s a decent shot and aiming from the bathroom window from at least 200 feet away, it went straight though one’s heart. I said a prayer for him and held back the automatic tears, just as I do for the chickens. There is enough death and violence in our world without my contributing to it mindlessly.
This spun me headlong into a dilemma I’ve repeatedly had to face since moving to the country and never before previously-considering how much killing bothers me, maybe I should become a vegetarian.
It still surprises me how rarely most meat lovers contemplate this quandary. Just because y’all aren’t the ones to do the killing, doesn’t mean the killing doesn’t get done. So my mind begins its workings to try to deconstruct my own hypocrisy on behalf of all us carnivores. Actually on behalf of you vegetarians, too. Allow me to demonstrate my sketchy web of logic. By all means, should you find it false or twisted, let me know, I’m all ears.
First, vegetarians eat eggs. Eggs require chickens. Chickens require protection from predators. So the coyotes still must get shot. Sorry veggie folks, I know you mean well, but the cold hard reality’s still got the upper hand.
Second, and far more serious, does a pack of coyotes spell potential harm for our dear pooch? I can hardly bear the thought.
So obviously simply becoming a vegetarian does not solve the issue. Should I consider becoming vegan instead and keeping our beloved pet forever indoors? Reality check on the latter, because he’d rather die than be eternally imprisoned.
Becoming vegan would be closer to making the killing unnecessary, but let’s look at it from the point of pure practicality. Vegans eat loads of vegetables. Growing enough vegetables consistently to feed even a small family requires lots of regularly applied organic matter and/or fertilizer. I don’t believe in using chemical fertilizers for many well-established reasons I’ve discussed before and will continue to do.
The chicken litter is our main garden fertilizer. Purchasing manure from others hardly solves the issue, because that once again leaves the inevitable killing to someone else. Buying non-manure organic fertilizer from the store solves one problem but invites several more, mainly because they are terribly expensive and there are hidden environmental costs as well in their transportation and packaging.
To be a vegan without shopping in a major metropolis is quite a challenge. Not to mention I rarely eat wheat or other easy-to-find grains for health reasons. Also, our goal out here is self-sufficiency, so even though we are still a long way from it, I can’t discount the discomfort of basing my diet on foods I can’t grow. So, as a vegan, what would I eat? Even if I fancied living on tofu, which I don’t, it’s not readily available in our “neighborhood” markets. It’s also highly processed, which I try very hard to avoid.
I’m something of a gourmand and can’t imagine being happy with a diet filled primarily by beans and kale. One’s got to draw the line somewhere. I’m not going for austerity out here as much as moral alignment, sustainable solutions and simple experimentation.
So maybe veganism is closer to a solution than where I now sit. But still, I can’t help but wonder–how quickly would my taste buds trump even my most perfectly laid plans of moral alignment? Considering there is the delicious aroma of roast turkey wafting from the oven as I write, I’m guessing not very long.