on trout, life, and death

 My sweet Dad gave us some brook trout that he caught this afternoon, knowing how much I love to eat them. Usually, with food from Dad, it's already 'ready'. Lobsters are cooked (he's a lobster fisherman), fish are gutted and filleted. Today, there wasn't time, so these little beauties arrived intact.

And I wrinkled up my nose and didn't feel very 'homesteady' at all. I did not want to clean them. These perfect, beautiful little fish - it just seemed so barbaric to cut them open. I thought about it as I steeled myself, and came to the same conclusion I always do: I am recognizing the worth of an animal life sacrificed so that I can eat. And it's kind of uncomfortable. And humbling, and good - that's how it's meant to be.

Then over trotted Phillip. "Those are dead now, right, Mama?"
"Yes, they are."
"But they were alive, right, Mama?"
"Yes, they were."
"And Bompie caught them for us to eat."
"Yes, love."
"They're slippery! And pretty. Look at the spots, Mama."
I cut open one of the fish, and found eggs inside.
"That fish was going to lay eggs. But she can't now, because she died."
"That's right."

I silently thanked the trout for being our supper. And that felt right.


  1. Oh we face this daily. It is quite humbling and awful. I realize this every time I look at our sweet little piggies.

  2. I know! I was surprised by how much I felt over these three little fish. And sweet Phillip's innocence and curiosity - it just gets me. Pigs might do me in!

  3. Anonymous6/03/2011

    We give thanks to our chickens too when we butcher them. One day, I may get to a point where I can't process meat anymore, but in the meantime, thanking them for their sacrifice seems like a nice thing to do. :)

    P is darling and so perceptive!

  4. Donald6/04/2011

    One of the things I most appreciate about fishing is that it makes the link between life, death, and eating immediate and present. With our society's spiral toward ever more processed foods, the fact of death disappears a little more from our lives each day. Even butchering large cuts into smaller ones, or chopping up a whole chicken, can bring reality into sharp relief. It is hard not to recognize that the meat I'm chopping up is actually an animal's muscles, not so dissimilar to my own. I have never found this "awful", because I've come to terms with how we eat, but I definitely find it humbling.

  5. I don't know how many times I have felt compelled to pop by to take a look at those gorgeous trout.Look at those beautiful spots.

  6. They are beautiful and their sacrifice was worth it since you appreciated it so much. When we get our intact line caught fish from the CSF, I always give thanks to them. It is interesting how we fell less compelled to thank the life that feeds us when it is already in pieces. I know that I personally do not think too much about it in the moment but rather the bigger picture of sustainable farming, etc. Thank you for this post as it has brought my inconsistency to the forefront and I will take the time to think about the lives (whole or in pieces) that feed me before I consume them.

  7. You guys are great. Thank you.

  8. Beautiful photos and words honoring the trout.


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