I have sheep. But they may soon be but a dream.
We bought our 4 little lambs a couple of years ago with the idea of breeding them -- for meat lambs, as they are hair sheep. We raised them and then decided not to breed them that first year as our very sensitive (especially in the animal department) daughter couldn't bear the thought of sweet lambs going off to be "murdered".
So that opened up the discussion that we aren't keeping the sheep for pets, and if they aren't going to "earn their keep" by providing us with lambs that we in turn sell for other people's dinners, then we can't keep them. Daughter decided that she can handle it if we don't get to know the lambs and whomever buys them (and then eats them) does not EVER speak of it to her. Okay ....
We bred the (now) ewes last October; they all gave birth to beautiful healthy lambs in March. And yesterday, the last of them went off to the slaughterhouse. Dear, sweet daughter was beside herself with the emotional pain of saying goodbye to these lambs we raised over the past 7 months. We did end up keeping one lamb, Stella's little white girl, who has just the gentlest personality that she had to be spared.
It's again breeding time for the ewes. But now, after witnessing our girl's reaction to the reality of raising lambs for the table, we need to revisit the conversation: how do we do this, and honor our child's feelings at the same time? Is this something we need to harden her to, to force her to accept that this is what we do if we want to keep so many animals? She doesn't have to come to the abattoir. She doesn't see the carnage. She only has the images in her head. Granted, they are powerful images.
Or do we abandon ship, truly honoring her feelings, and sell our little flock?
Selfishly, I say, but, what about MY feelings? I feel like I have finally found something that matters to me. Providing quality meat to my friends; raising the lambs as healthily and ethically as possible. A very wise person once said, to change the world, you first must change yourself. I want my food raised ethically. So that's what I'm doing. But I may not be supported in what I believe and enjoy, and may have to give it up. And that makes me so sad.