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Monday, August 15, 2016

Sounds before the slaughter

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Every month, Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) coordinates protests in front of a chicken slaughterhouse (Petaluma Poultry owned by Purdue – “Rocky the Free Range Chicken” and “Rosie the Original Organic Chicken”).

Every so often we have gone out at night to be there when the chickens are trucked in for slaughter. The other night we went out from 11:30pm – 2:15am.

Unfortunately, it seems the slaughterhouse found out and was quick to call the police.

But that is not what this blog it about.

The last time we did this, I walked away with the burning image of a baby chicken’s eyes when I looked into the crates (again, they are babies when they are killed).

The other night, it was something else.

It was the sounds. The heartbreaking sounds that some of these chicks made - the gentlest cooing.

If you know chickens you possibly know the sounds. The sounds I hear in my head right now are the cutest little sounds. Yet, I know these were not sounds of contentment, but sounds of fear. Fear they endured when they were caught and shoved into these crates with other chickens. Fear as they were driven through the cold at night (a time when they typically sleep – which of course makes this whole despicable process even sadder, if that were possible), and, of course, the fear of slowly being trucked to their deaths.

Each individual bird goes through this – not just thousands, but millions of them.

Each precious little bird, whose body is so fragile, who just wants to live.

To think too much about what each of these gentle birds endures, again, is too much for my mind and heart to process; too much pain, as the reality of it all is too daunting for most of us to ever imagine.

It was not a chorus of cooing, just maybe one or two I could hear. My mind wondered if this was the chick who decided to try to soothe the rest of them with her sweet noises. Her head above the others, looking around and generating this soothing music.

I just wanted to embrace her and hold her and protect her. What I was able to do was tell her I loved her and I was so, so sorry. And that we would continue our work to encourage people to see these birds as individuals who should be able to sing, feel the grass under their feet, and enjoy the sun on their backs.

Thanks to Erika, Eve, Lisa N., Lisa S., Pinky, and Stefanie for being there, for bearing witness.

Thanks for taking photos Erika!