For one, I’m not an animal person.
I and another woman, Sarah, have spent these past two weeks farm-sitting in West Virginia for a woman who’s vacationing in Maine. Without prior experience or any supervision whatsoever, I’d say we’ve handled surprises well; namely, a broken freezer full of dead (and thawing) baby bunnies we had to bury, psychotic pigs escaping their electrically wired pens during feeding time, and a spaz-and-die-in-our-hands rabbit that we were instructed to feed to the dog.
On that note, I have become more of a dog person. I used to think that dogs were just excited and eager to please - which are precisely the characteristics that draw people to them - but the dog at this farm minds her business and works with us when necessary to keep the peace. I guess I understand the whole “man’s best friend” thing now. They’re not my best friend, but I do appreciate them a whole lot more as team-players rather than as pets.
Being at this farm has kind of turned me into a red-neck. Any past inclination towards vegetarianism that’s been rooted in sympathy is just out the window now. My standards for ethically raised meat are high and objectively so, but I would much rather an animal be on my plate than in my backyard.
There’s a cool thing going on here. The woman who owns the farm, Quincy, has created a self-sustaining ecosystem (aka permaculture) in which the land, animals, and humans flourish through one another’s contributions. We feed the pigs which plow the fields and fertilize the soil which grows the vegetables which feed us. And we eat a pig here and there. Same goes for the rabbits, the sheep, the chickens, the turkeys. The only pointless animal here is the geese. They’re bums, and they shit everywhere. And the house cat that eats our food off the table when we’re not looking.
I’ve also recently begun thinking of myself as a foodie, which is an identity that I’ve avoided for its connotation with techies raving about which increasingly unaffordable burrito shop is the best burrito shop in San Francisco’s Mission District. There are good burritos and there are bad burritos, but it’s still a fucking burrito, and I’m not going to pay eight dollars for a burrito no matter which indie publication gives it the “Best Of” stamp. I also drink and enjoy gas station coffee, which any foodie I know wouldn’t be caught dead admitting (though they do exist, being as I’m one of them). Anyway, Sarah and I have been creating the most lavish meals practically out of thin air, using whatever ingredients we can find and our combined knowledge of flavors and textures that compliment one another. The majority of the raw ingredients we use are locally grown (within this farm or one nearby), and we take our time preparing the dishes. The only recipe we’ve followed is for a coconut creme cheesecake, but we fashioned the crust ourselves out of ground Brazil nuts, shredded coconut, lime juice, and salt. We roasted a pork shoulder the other day and for an accompanying sauce Sarah simmered peaches and tomatoes with cumin and coriander. It was delightful. Food is amazing, and in creating it you find that the more you learn, the more you want to learn, and the quicker you become at learning it. Not everything is that way.
I’m also sober, which isn’t something I’ve been since I can remember being anything, really. You can think that’s sad but I don’t. The world is crass and will poison you in disguise, might as well have a beer in hand. But for now, I like going to sleep and waking up in a similar state. I like that my clothes don’t smell, there’s money in my wallet, my bodily orifices aren’t burning or running or bleeding. These days my skin feels thicker, my bones stronger, I can handle the world as it is.
Recap: I’m not an animal lover except for dogs and only when they’re chill, the kind of foodie that cooks often and well, and sober within a parenthesis.
PS free range, coop-to-table, over easy eggs will send you into cartwheels down the street. Try to prove me wrong.