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I lived on a farm about an hour or so from Manhattan as a kid 45 years ago. I'll never forget the City people who drove up one day, a bit lost. They got out of the car to stretch their legs and ask for directions. Just then, the child, maybe 7 or so, saw our chickens and pointed excitedly to them saying "Mom, LOOK! : POULTRY!"

Funny what you remember in life.

FYI, City Kids to upstate NY in summer back then was called the "Fresh Air Fund"

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Wonderful article!

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The delight on that beautiful little face as the little boy (girl?) is handed a chicken to pet just made my week.

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Jun 18·edited Jun 18

Yeah, exactly. Nothing beats watching kids enjoying themselves in nature. Although I made a smart-alec remark earlier about a question in this article, I did wind up saving the photos in it just because they are so delightful.

I grew up in a small village. Many of my neighbours were farmers and when I visited some of my friends' houses, we used to chase their chickens around the yard. I'd forgotten how 'normal' that used to be - how in touch with the land and the seasons people were, even two centuries after the industrial revolution.

People really need to get back in touch with the wild, and it's amazing how kids respond well to the natural world.

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"By the time today’s toddlers reach adulthood, it is expected that 80 percent of humans will live in urban areas."

I wonder if this projection is based on figures from before or after the pandemic. I think there will inevitably be a backlash (more of what we've already seen) towards urban living, especially as more people get access to working remotely (if you have a job that allows that). Something can't keep growing and growing like that - less people will opt for college, more people will want to have a little land and a little farm, and that 80% seems outlandish - unless the cities just expand to swallow the suburbs/exurbs.

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What a wonderful article, and what a great service the author is doing. I wish I had had the opportunity to do this as a kid. Thank you, Free Press, for giving us the occasional respite from politics and other crushingly depressing world news.

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I agree - I can't believe I am typing this but more 'human interest stories' please.

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To the folks who have responded to my earlier comments questioning the rather cavalier way this article handles the killing of animals: To be clear.

1. I am not calling anyone names. I am not demanding anyone change their behavior. And I have not said anything about my politics or the way I relate to animals.

2. I am raising a very simple question--what is the justification for killing/exploiting animals, given what we know about their ability to feel pain and have emotionally tinged relationships with other animals and with humans?

3. Since the vast majority of humans don't need animal flesh or products (eggs, milk) for health, what is the justification?

4. 'They taste good', 'we've always done it,' 'vegans are jerks', 'I bet you wear leather shoes', 'real men kill animals,' 'this is the way nature works,'--I don't see any of those as valid justifications. Pleasure doesn't justify an action if the action affects other living beings. Long term habits would also include the domination of women, child marriage and lots of other things. The moral condition of the person (me) who raises the issue is not relevant--I could be the biggest jerk in the world and the question would still be a valid question. And I don't see killing defenseless animals as the proof of manhood, being tough, not being a sissy, being 'in touch' with nature (at least not in a good way--there are ways of being 'in touch' that are immoral).

5. So, outside of "God says so" which is kind of a non-starter for an argument (though there are many quite religious people who are vegetarians, for what they think are religious reasons) where is the justification for killing/exploiting animals?

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They are lesser beings, subject to humans. God says so is a non- starter for hundreds of millions .Their non-belief is their business. The animals, plants, and minerals are for our use. Inordinate affection for animals is disordered. I cried when our beagle died, she was a great companion, but her death was not the same as a family member. Human beings are of a higher order. The difference between a chicken and a cabbage is almost nothing compared to the difference between a human and a chicken. Again, negligence or deliberate cruelty to animals,in my view, is heinous, and justifiably punishable by the criminal code. The slaughter of fish, poultry and livestock is legitimate.

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Jun 17·edited Jun 17

Roger, as someone who is not a vegan (like many others I tried and failed), and who has also worked for animal welfare causes, I think you raise really important points. I don't think the author showed a cavalier attitude about killing animals, just a very matter-of-fact one. She even talks about the difficulty and dread of having to do it. I trust and hope that she gives them a quick death.

I don't eat the meat of four-legged animals but I do eat poultry, so I can hardly condemn anyone who kills chickens on their farm. And the lives of those animals up until the time they are slaughtered are infinitely better than the lives of animals in the nightmare hellholes that are factory farms. I have come to see family farms as the best alternative we currently have, so I like to support the people who operate them.

Having said that, I share your dismay at the callous attitude a lot of people have toward meat eating and killing animals for food. I hate the "they're only animals" mentality, as if they're inanimate, insensate objects. Almost everyone who talks like that has never slaughtered their own food but relies on others to do their dirty work (Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" is a recommended read because he describes how he actually did that).

Paul McCartney said it best: If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.

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they are food

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Fabulous. Awesome. There aren’t enough superlatives.

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My wife and I recently relocated to South Carolina for work and I explicitly looked for some acreage just for this reason. We'll be starting with honey bees and chickens in the next few months and hopefully someday, have grandchildren running around helping and learning. Great stuff.

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It seems there is a growing popularity in hobby farms. I hope this is true and I hope the trend continues. As this wonderful essay illustrates, valuable life lessons abound in the process of growing your own food, being outside in nature and doing the physical labor that goes along with farming. It was my great good fortune to grow up on a farm in South Carolina. Next to winning the parent lottery with two loving parents, it was the greatest blessing in my life.

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I own a horse for a while. It was an awesome experience because I understand the work involved in owning animals. Also, I moved to a more rural area when I married my husband. When I have to go to the city, I can’t wait to get home!

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I’ve kept pigs, chickens, turkeys, goats and donkeys. Animals of a barnyard nature give live a different meaning. A routine, entertainment and yes, manual labor. Loved it.

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Jun 17·edited Jun 17

You are doing God's work with these kids. They will always remember these real farm lessons. So many will not get the chance, and grow up ignorant. Meat comes from the grocery store. Electricity comes from the wall socket. Bless You. Teaching kids what is REAL, is so important.

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Jun 17·edited Jun 17

So much to love about this.

Might sound odd to some but my most cherished memory of my grandmother (she died 40 years ago) was slaughtering chickens, then scalding and feather removal, then butchering them, etc. that night I had the best fried chicken in my life.

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I'm glad she scalded them after and not before, lol. My grandmother, who died 38 years ago, would talk about keeping backyard chickens in the city and told the story of one that went off running down the street after it had its head cut off! That expression, a chicken with its head cut off, is meant quite literally because they really do that! Imagine a human doing that?

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Pretty sure the live birds would not consent to that hot of a bath. 😉

Yup, gotta hold them down. There was a steep drop off about ten yards away... nobody wanted to go down there and try to find them.

There was a funny movie bit from Doom Generation when Margaret Cho, who runs a grocery store with her husband, she gets decapitated and the head lands in ice with cauliflower or some such. Her heads lives for days with her constantly berating her husband.

More seriously: Found this academic paper on the topic of decapitated humans. "The Most Gentle of Lethal Methods": The Question of Retained Consciousness Following Decapitation

So, consciousness probably takes a few seconds to pass post decapitation.

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Great piece. Thanks for helping our society, one family at a time. For every species on Earth, the young are quickly exposed to the dangers and rigors of nature and learn/adapt/mature to become functioning adults. Somehow, we have come to believe that humans need extensive coddling through childhood and adolescence to manage life. Please let's stop turning our children into snowflakes.

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sorry, error entry

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About time.

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