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I killed some ducks this week

Posted 12/4/2015 1:25pm by Samantha Klinck.

(Trigger warning: This post deals with the topic of domestic violence)

I killed some ducks this week, and I actually feel pretty good about it. And I don’t just mean in the typical farmer way of putting food on the table. I feel good about it because many years ago, I killed a pet duck that belonged to a little girl, and I have felt bothered by the memory of it ever since.  

It wasn’t easy killing our ducks. Killing anything is never easy, but these ducks of ours weren’t pets, although they were loved. The ducks we processed were raised for food. They weren’t taken from a child and killed, to hurt and show dominance over the child. Today, when I killed our ducks, I gave thanks not only for the meat, but for a family that got a second chance.  

So now you are probably asking why would I have killed a little girls’ pet duck. I wasn’t intentional, I can tell you that.  

It happened many years ago. A woman newly moved to our community from Manitoba asked for help to butcher some broiler chickens her family had raised that summer. I was of course very happy to help. She wanted to come and assist so she could learn and become more self-sufficient.  

Butcher day arrived and her husband came to our farm. I asked where his wife, Natsara* was, and he said not to worry about it. But I was worried, something seemed off about this man. My husband and I opened the truck where he had the broilers, and the first thing we noticed was these were laying hens, not meat birds like we’d been told. And there was a duck in with the chickens.  

Something about the manner of this man had both my husband and I on alert. We exchanged a few glances, and when the man was out of earshot, we both agreed to get the job done as quickly as possible to get this guy off our property.  

We began butchering, and after the first few birds the guys’ cell phone rang. It was his wife, Natsara, and he told her that everything was fine, he’d see her later, and he hung up on her while she was in mid-sentence. I could tell that what he was saying to her did not correspond with what she was saying loudly in the background. My pace of slaughtering quickened.  

Then all that was left was the duck. I picked up this white, plump, beautiful duck. I didn’t need to catch it, it came to me. It just waddled over and looked at me. It seemed liked it enjoyed being held, and did not fight to get away. It looked me right in the eye. Something felt very, very wrong.  

Being a farmer, I have killed many things. It is always hard, but something felt so different with this duck, I had never in my life experienced this before, and I wasn’t even really sure what it was I was feeling. I strung the duck up, said a prayer, and killed it quickly. It looked at me the whole time, and I looked back.  

At that time, we had never yet processed ducks on our farm, so I wasn’t sure how the plucking would go as I had been told that waterfowl are notoriously hard to pluck. What I had heard was true, and the plucking didn’t go well. The man tossed the dead, soggy, partially plucked duck into a garbage bag and we sent him on his way.  

I called Natsara to find out why she didn’t come. She was talking very fast, she apologized and said there had been a mix up, and her husband was supposed to bring her. I told her that the duck hadn’t turned out very well. She told me that it had been her daughters’ pet. My heart sank.  

I posted about how awful I was feeling on facebook that night, and immediately one of my childhood friends who now works in preventing violence against women said that killing family pets was a big red flag indicating domestic violence. The idea that something like that was happening right in my own community was hard to swallow, but I knew it was true.  

After that, each time we butchered that year, I called Natsara and asked if she wanted to come and learn how, and even offered to pick her up as her husband wouldn’t let her use the truck. Any time I saw her, I told her that if she ever needed anything I would be happy to help.  

A few years went by and I tried to forget about the duck and the situation that I felt powerless to change.  Then I got a phone call from a neighbour. She said she didn’t know what to do; a friend had called her and confided that she was in an abusive relationship, and she wanted to get out. I immediately knew who my neighbour was talking about. I asked if it was Natsara, and she said it was.  

With the help, support, and advice of some of my friends that work in the justice system and for the prevention of domestic violence, as well as other women in the community, Natsara and her daughters were able to get out of the abusive situation. The husband was charged, and mother and daughters were able to move back to Manitoba to be with their family.  

So why write a blog post about this on our farm page?  

Because domestic violence is happening right now in our own communities, amongst our friends and neighbours.  

Because we need to be talk about it and be aware of it to help prevent it.

Because silence doesn’t help.  

If you would like to learn more about this incredibly important issue, or to help families in your community that are trying to escape domestic violence, then contact your local women’s shelter and ask how you can help today.  

*Natsara’s name has been changed to protect her families’ identity & privacy. This blog entry has been posted with Natsara’s permission and blessing.