Our non-human family grows...

Photo: Yani gets some ‘help’ with his morning drawing from 'Phoenix', the cockatiel.

Photo: ‘Olivia’, the chicken, thinks it belongs inside the house…Pacha has a soft heart!

Slow Mother Blog

June 28, 2011

Here in Australia the darkest day has passed and the light grows slowly brighter. We shared ‘candlenight’ with our good friends, cooking home-grown pumpkin and chickpea soup on our pot-belly wood stove, singing and playing the guitar, appreciating what we have and praying that everyone in the world finds a way to live in peace and simplicity.

Our family (of 3 humans, one horse, 6 chickens and many trees!) has grown slightly largely since a small tame ‘cockateil’ parrot landed in our garden, allowing Pacha to joyfully pick it up and take it inside. Despite putting up signs around the place asking if anyone has lost the bird, so far no-one has claimed it.

So, we have a new teacher! I didn’t realise just how much love and affection a small bird needs to be happy, snuggling up to our faces for a scratch and a whistling conversation. Phoenix insists on sharing our food (sitting on the edge of dishes to sample our meals), although she is well supplied with healthy millet. She spends many hours each day preening its feathers– even jumping into the dishwashing water for a warm bath. And the rest of the time she needs to be busy, mischievously active! As I write on the computer it chews up paper and threatens to peel off my computer keys…a little distracting.

I find it very hard to confine her in a cage – but outside she would be quickly killed by a bigger bird, so most of the time she sits on my shoulder, nibbling and whistling in my ear - flying around the house when the urge takes her.

We are lucky to be sharing our lives with such a wide range of animals that seem mostly just to ‘come’ to us and it is fascinating to watch the interaction between them and between the wild birds and animals too. It reminds me of the way of life of the Penan of Borneo, one of the last tribes of nomadic hunter-gatherers in the world. In their camps they keep many ‘pets’ - orphaned baby animals from prey they have hunted. They feed and look after these animals until they die from old age; they would never eat an animal they have fed even once, considering it barbaric.

Here in Australia recently the issue of exporting live animals for meat production in Indonesia has captured national attention after a documentary was shown on TV. People are outraged at the cruelty inflicted on these cows and have demanded an end to it. Perhaps this issue will help people ‘make the connection’ between their own consumption of food and where these products actually come from and how they are produced. In today’s industrialised food system; very few cows are treated humanly at any time in their life – and I think most people would find it very hard to actually kill an animal to eat it.

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