I sold three head of cattle a few days ago, and it wasn't an easy thing for me to do. I spent a lot of time wondering what their life would be like especially knowing their life thus far has been a good one. I finally had to realize that there are only two ways off the farm for our cattle, dead and heading to the butchers or live and heading to some unknown place. Both options make me cry. However after much agonizing, I've come to realize that I prefer dead and heading to the butchers. Really this is what it's all about. Every livestock animal we sell as meat is one less animal who didn't come off a feedlot, one less animal who didn't get raised in confinement, one less animal who didn't have to experience the stress of travel, and one less animal who goes off to the unknown. I'm struggling as I become closer to my food source. But when I look at pictures of where my meat currently comes from I find it easier to pull my big girl panties up and deal with everything that comes along with raising our own food. Sometimes though the big girl panties just feel too big for me. Example: Recently we brought the vet out, ran the cattle through the shoot, made some steers, vaccinated and wormed them. It was a great day to finally give the herd the care they have needed for such a long time. However there has been a downside. Mature cows were vaccinated for Bangs disease, and though the vet told us what might happen, we didn't really hear it. A month later I'm finding miscarried calves in the pastures. I'm dealing with cows who have retained placentas because they didn't have a live calf to nurse them and help their uterus contract enough to push it through. I've had to put my arm up a cow to remove the rotten placenta. I've now learned I can put the cow through the headgate and milk her instead if we catch it within 48 hours before her cervix completely closes. But I've watched a cow lick and lick and lick and lick her dead calf trying to get it to breathe and I can't help but feel an enormous amount of guilt. Look what I did. I learned at the expense of life. But it's done, and now I walk the pastures not only looking to see if everyone is okay, but to check the ground for miscarried calves. I wonder if it isn't time to become a vegetarian as I put something dead in a bucket and bury it. No, I don't give up. Not yet anyway. This too shall pass. I have some muscovy ducklings that I bought to keep the lone duckling company. Turns out that out of the five I bought, four are males. As with the cows, I've found I'm unable to sell ducks either. I sold three a couple of months ago and still cannot stop thinking what sort of life they live. I'm trying to build up a flock of egg layers for our CSA and farm store. I guess I could just buy females from a hatchery instead of hatching them myself, but again I run into a moral dilemma; what happens to all the males that no one wants? I guess it's time for me to turn to an all purpose duck, a duck who has egg laying capabilities as well as meat, or not bother. If I cannot butcher the male muscovies, I shouldn't bother... then I either give up eggs altogether or turn the blind eye to the life of a battery hen. I do know some people that raise chickens and ducks for eggs, I could buy from them, but they go through the same things and they either butcher males, or buy from hatcheries. I do it or let someone else do it. What sort of person am I? What sort of person do I want to be? I'm in the process of once again remaking myself. I want to live a sustainable life, I want to contribute to my family. The idea of raising my own food, and selling some of it is something that my dreams are made of. The reality is harsher than the dream. I'm not ready to give up... I've gone this far. Anyone else struggling with this sort of thing?