The Silence of the Lambs

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ao's picture
ao
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The Silence of the Lambs
I had an interesting experience this weekend.  A friend had talked me into getting a lamb (to eat, not as a pet) from a local farmer.  Being a lover of lamb and also wanting to learn to how to do the whole slaughtering/butchering process from start to finish, I agreed.  While I've hunted, the thought of killing an animal up close was disturbing to me and I wondered how I would handle it.  I know it's a lot different than putting a bullet into an animal at a distance.  The lambs are slaughtered by slitting their throat.  Despite sounding brutal, this method seems to be more humane than shooting them or other methods of slaughter.  The exsanguination process is rapid and the animal loses consciousness almost immediately.  As the farmer expressed it, think about an older person who stands up suddenly and immediately becomes light headed.  I identified with this statement since I've witnessed this phenomenon in patients many times.  I'd also seen kosher slaughtering done on a cow many years ago and it was quite evident that with the rapid massive blood loss, it lost consciousness immediately.  Another reason for this type of slaughtering is that the still beating heart pumps most of the blood out and the rest is then drained by gravity, yielding a better quality of meat.  This is the method not only used by kosher Jews but by Muslims and many other people around the world.  For those of you concerned about the pain that the animal may experience (as I was), a reference from Wikipedia says this:
A 1978 study at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover indicates that these traditional methods, when executed as prescribed by the religious authorities, do not cause suffering to the slaughtered animal.
  1. Schulze W, Schultze-Petzold H, Hazem AS, Gross R. Experiments for the objectification of pain and consciousness during conventional (captive bolt stunning) and religiously mandated (“ritual cutting”) slaughter procedures for sheep and calves. Deutsche Tierärztliche Wochenschrift 1978 Feb 5;85(2):62-6. English translation by Dr Sahib M. Bleher
 
The farmer had already segregated the six lambs to be killed.  He carried one out (which is easier said than done since they weigh about 100 lbs.).  The lamb was laid on its side with its head downhill with one person holding the head and another holding the legs.  Either the person holding the head or a third person slits the throat.  I watched two being done and did the third one.  I said a little prayer beforehand expressing gratitude for the lamb that was giving its life for us and also asking that it not suffer.  With a sharp knife, the deed was quickly done.  What surprised me was how passively the animal seemed to go to the slaughter.  There was no bleating or other noise and no struggling except for some twitching of the legs and tail afterwards (due to reflexive spinal cord flexi-burst generator activity).  We weighed the animals and then proceeded to skin and gut them.  Then we trimmed the fat, cut up the meat, packaged it, and took it home.
 
Several things in particular struck me.  First, the whole process was a lot of work (more than I thought) but specialized tools helped the process and working with a group of other people imparted a sense of community to the chore.  Second, something that a PETA supporter would consider barbaric was actually almost peaceful and there was an aura of gratitude and respect during the process.  Third (and this was the most profound), was what my friend and I discussed on the way home.  Both of us saw the parallels to the situation going on in this country and the term "sheeple".  We are as a people, by and large, rather passively accepting what is going on with little opposition or resistance.  At the farm, other sheep saw what was going on but didn't seem to show much concern or alarm.  They didn't even bleat.  They certainly didn't come to the aide of their fallen comrades.  I commented on this situation and someone said, "That's the difference between a herd and a pack."  The profoundness of that statement hit me.  A wolf pack will work together to accomplish their goals and oppose a common enemy.  Sheep will not and will either be victims or flee and the fleeing is usually futile.  It was also noteworthy how were the sheep were lured to their slaughter.  By food, interestingly enough.  Much to ponder here.  All in all, an interesting day with lots of life lessons, some practical and some symbolic.            
radishcake's picture
radishcake
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Re: The Silence of the Lambs

my comment - "Do not go gentle into that goodnight"

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MarkM
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Re: The Silence of the Lambs

ao,

Thanks for sharing your experience and your thoughts. There is a reverence to be associated with our food, I believe. It has been all but lost with the industrial food complex that is required to feed our nation. That reverence can only come from a close association with the actual process and thereby an appreciation of what is necessary to feed ourselves.

It seems as though most want their food in pretty packages on the store shelves every time they show up and the end products of eating that food to be whisked away to somewhere else. They have no interest in how it happens, or how damaging the process may be, only that it happens.

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xraymike79
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Re: The Silence of the Lambs
ao said"
...
Third (and this was the most profound), was what my friend and I discussed on the way home.  Both of us saw the parallels to the situation going on in this country and the term "sheeple".  We are as a people, by and large, rather passively accepting what is going on with little opposition or resistance.  At the farm, other sheep saw what was going on but didn't seem to show much concern or alarm.  They didn't even bleat.  They certainly didn't come to the aide of their fallen comrades.  I commented on this situation and someone said, "That's the difference between a herd and a pack."  The profoundness of that statement hit me.  A wolf pack will work together to accomplish their goals and oppose a common enemy.  Sheep will not and will either be victims or flee and the fleeing is usually futile.  It was also noteworthy how were the sheep were lured to their slaughter.  By food, interestingly enough...
This is what has happened as our society has become atomized and a sense of "community" is something only commonly-experienced from the distant past. Most people either don't know who their neighbors are or only know their name and nothing more. One hundred years from now, this won't be the case.
... a need for survival will force people away from their televisions and their computers and into what Putnam calls “civil society”. The capitalist system has a way of creating its own gravediggers and we might as well enjoy each others’ company while we go about our work with shovels in hand.  

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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Re: The Silence of the Lambs

Having once helped in the slaughter and preparation of a Pascha lamb with a Greek Orthodox family I still have a deep memory of the respect this hands on approach brings to a meal.  It also impressed on me that to eat meat should be for special occasions and not for day to day use.  Thanks for sharing this experience.

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JAG
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Re: The Silence of the Lambs
ao wrote:
 At the farm, other sheep saw what was going on but didn't seem to show much concern or alarm.  They didn't even bleat.  They certainly didn't come to the aide of their fallen comrades.           

As Captain Sheeple, I just wanted you to know that we (the sheeple) have organized Operation Alpha-Omega to deliver a little payback for your blatant attack on the herd. Sleep well my friend.

(Thanks for the post ao....Jeff)

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