A recent walk at the Plains Conservation Center brought the omnivore's dilemma into sharp relief. Located at the far edge of Aurora, the center represents 1,100 acres of preserved prairie (a second site near Strasburg protects nearly 8,000 acres). To the south and west countless putty-and-beige houses break the horizon but north and east--mostly clear, wan sky and mile-after-mile of tea-colored grass.
It's a delightful place to ramble; the center has replicated the Laura-Ingalls-Wilder experience by constructing a series of furnished sod buildings that include two homes, a school house, blacksmith shop and barn. There's also a working heirloom garden and chicken coop, where we met the flock pictured above.
We were completely charmed, especially when Tom, obviously a bird with strong preferences in textiles, began aggressively pecking the Garlic Queen's crocheted purse.
Which brings us to the dilemma and the impending holiday. When we approached the center's small clutch of chickens and turkeys, they ran to us like we were made of popped corn then followed us throughout the homestead certain our pockets were filled with good things to eat. We stooped down to talk a little turkey and they clucked and barked and showed us their beautiful feathers, which in the sunlight gleamed torquoise and bronze.
Because this is a working farm, occasionally a member of the flock is harvested and served to visitors in the large soddy--with dumplings.
Somehow I managed to gobble down turkey and chicken and beef for 50 years without question. Today, in spite of our omnivorous ancestery and need for protein, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to justify that these lives lived in the Colorado, California or Kansas sunshine are being ended for mine.
Not sure I'm there yet, but getting really close to saying, "Pass, the Field Roast, please..."
Photo by Susan Permut