Note: This post might be a little gross for some.
Last night, I watched my boyfriend butcher a deer that had been living only hours before. Don’t worry; I didn’t take any pictures for the blog. I had never seen anyone butcher an animal from start to finish so it was important for me to watch this process. It went better for me than I expected it to. I thought I would have been grossed out, but I actually did very well until my boyfriend went to remove the horns and a piece of… ahem… brain matter…. fell on the ground. Thankfully, that was the one of the last things he did.
I have been contemplating going vegetarian for many years, which is why it was important for me to watch this process. I’ve tried to compensate by buying soy or almond milk, using eggs from our backyard chickens, and buying meat from companies that are ANIMAL WELFARE APPROVED. My goal is to one day only consume meat that I have either personally raised or that my boyfriend has hunted. The death of any creature seems unfair to me, but I would rather the animal have some sense of freedom and happiness.
The other day, I was reading one of the blogs I follow. It was slaughter day for their pigs so she spoke of how hard it was to watch them disappear into the truck to go to the slaughter house. Someone made a comment that they could never raise an animal and then eat it. They commented back and forth and finally, the woman confessed that she had no problem eating meat from the grocery store, even though the meat she is consuming has been factory farmed in inhumane – cruel – conditions. She has that disconnect between her meat having been once a living creature that feels pain and she needs that disconnect to continuing eating it. To me, that simply is not right.
All my squeamishness aside, I had mentioned to my boyfriend that I wanted to try tanning a hide. I hesitated when he told me that brain tanning was the most traditional method. I researched alternative methods, but most seemed to use chemicals. That’s not what I wanted. If I was going to go through the effort, I wanted to do it the natural way. So last night I, wearing gloves, gingerly picked up the piece of brain that had fallen and put it in a zip lock bag. My boyfriend cut me off a small piece of hide which we put in another bag to freeze until I can get started today.
Fun fact: Apparently every animal (with the exception of buffalo) has enough brains to tan their own hide.
Why did I want to try tanning? I want to simply remember what I am eating and to preserve a part of it in a show of respect. I can’t stand the thought of so much of an animal being wasted.