The Big Day
We met at 1:30 to “arrest” the chickens, as Uncle Timo, a chicken staff from Ghana, calls it. The men were very violent grabbing them and throwing them in to the cages and holding three or four of them by their legs. I picked them up one at a time after chasing, catching, and calmly petting them before putting them into their crowded cage. There was not enough room for one so I carried her with me. Soni, a participant from Indonesia, teased me as I talked with her and pet her. He said “It’s just and animal.” and I told him that she was a living creature and that I could tell she was scared by the pulsations of her heart against my hand.
We got to the butchering area and people were still happy and excited. Uncle Timo explained the process of killing while we all watched as he held her wings, held her neck back, inserted the knife and cut the two main veins in the neck. The chicken flailed a bit as blood drained and he put her upside down in the spinning metal rack. People were excited to show the way that they killed chickens in their countries. Emma, a participant from Uganda, immediately grabbed a hen attempting to cut her head off and eventually succeeding as some laughed because he wasn’t supposed to do that. It was a nice thing to giggle to release tension, but I could not help but feel disgusted that they would take things so lightly.
The next half an hour or so consisted of endless and what seemed like too much excitement of mutilation. I know that people are excited to learn and to be a part of the groups first butchering session, but I couldn’t help but cry watching blood drip everywhere and the excitement and attitude of people killing. I felt lightheaded so I sat with my hen in my arms for a while feeling the warmth of her body next to mine. I stepped over to the area a few times to watch how it was done, knowing that I would have to do it too. Sakura, a Japanese volunteer, had training at her high school and her way felt best. She took the wings, crossed them and held them between her left thumb and index. She then took the neck, pulled it out a bit and gently folded it back, placing the beak under her finger. From there you can feel the main veins to cut.
I sat back down for a while and waited until my hen would be the last. When it came time I think she knew. She had been looking at me with her beautiful green-yellow eyes and there was a calmness to her. I asked Sakura to help me so she demonstrated again and helped me. I followed her steps and it was quite hard to hold my hen still and between my fingers. I took the knife and it was hard to puncture the neck. Once I did I cut one vein and the blood immediately started to pour. Sakura said I had gotten it and I took her to the metal rack as she gargled her blood. I gently placed her upside down and she flailed a bit.
Tears were coming so I walked away and sat with grey and pirate kitty for a bit. I felt pirate kitty’s pregnant belly and realized that life ends and new life comes as I felt her babies move. It is the way of the world. I thought of how that morning I had harvested crops and that these things, killing living things, must be done for the nutrition of our bodies.
After I had calmed a bit I returned to see that my hen was still moving and that not much blood had fallen. I asked Uncle Timo and I had not cut her main vein. He cut it for me and spun her in the machine to quicken the process. He grabbed her when she stopped moving and put her in the boiling water but she stated to flap when her took her out. I felt so guilty. He assured me that she would die in a minute. She went into the de-featherer and her life was finished when she came out. I took the remaining feathers off and looked at her face. It scared me a bit but was peaceful in a way to see that it was her. I soaked her in the water with the others but watched to make sure that no one else took her to clean.
I wasn’t sure if I could go through with pulling her insides out but I was reassured to see Rachel doing it. I took my hen next to Rachel and she instructed me on what to do. It was actually really good to see parts of the hen’s body and to find her half formed eggs. I didn’t like the feeling inside of her though. Her parts were still warm from her life and it was very tough t o pull some of the parts out. I took her heart in my hand and remembered how it had beat. I immediately showered and tried to wash the smell and icky feeling away.
I am so proud of myself though. I feel like I really respected the process and my hen’s life. I got made fun of and criticized for crying because most people here grow up doing this and cannot understand my sadness. I now know that sacrifice that is made behind all of the chicken nuggets that I have eaten in my life and I have so much more respect toward the chickens.
I did it. I was there and watched as the rooster that I hand fed’s life was taken and I took the life of a hen. She will live with me forever now. They say that animals don’t go to heaven, but I believe that their spirit stays with you .When that time comes for me she will go as well.
This is why I didn’t want to come to ARI, but I thank God so much and believe that he knew what he was doing. The endless learning and love that I have received here are irreplaceable. I am so happy that my life has changed.
Being in the office allows for many great opportunities from design work to seeing how ARI operates. I recently have been able to access the graduate updates from ARI. It is so amazing to see and read about what impact ARI really has on the World. The graduates go into detail about difficulties they have faced to things that have really helped. I can see that it is also helpful to have a place like ARI to vent to knowing that there are people with similar trials and people who support and believe in the things they are doing.
Baby Ducks, Piglets, & Kittens!
This month we got our baby ducks for weeding the rice paddies, a new set of piglets were born, and our cat finally had her kittens. It is really refreshing and exciting to have new life. The seedlings and babies remind me that life must be taken, but life must begin as well.
Crops & Veggies!
Ah, back to where I started. The simple mornings of weeding, bed making and buyo. For this month’s foodlife work I was put in Group 2’s field. Their field is a little smaller than others and they were able to organize it very beautifully. Small things like organizing the different kinds of vegetables and having section signs, leaving enough walking space for pleasant work, and their use of beautiful bamboo structures for support really made a difference and allows the user to enjoy their time there. I also had the opportunity to make them a simple rain water collection system out of used umbrellas and bamboo.
Out & About
Flower Colony & A 1300 Year Old Onsen
Some of the volunteers and staff went on a small hiking trip in the mountains to see this beautiful flower colony. It was a really beautiful day and we enjoyed lunch together and even got to visit a historical and relaxing onsen, hot spring.
Nana & Nikko!
My Nana came to visit this month. We enjoyed time together at ARI and it was really nice to have someone from home see and experience my life here. It is one thing to read about a place and look at pictures but to know a place like ARI you have to visit.
We also went on a trip to a nearby town that is really rich in Japanese history and culture. We were able to visit a beautiful waterfall and one of the most beautiful and ornate temples in Japan.
Plus it was really nice to have my Nana’s hugs. There isn’t anything quite like them.
Korea was so much fun and the food was delicious. It was really nice to see friends and to have a short vacation.