Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bambi does not live in my world - the update

Photo -Sean Kilpatrick,The Canadian Press

I use to work with a woman whose family comes from Northern Ontario. Every fall her family would go hunting and whatever was shot became their food for the winter. Long after she left home, her father and brother still went hunting to supply their family with meat. And no, they weren’t Aboriginal Canadians, just plain Canadians living in the north.

This summer when I was out in West I ate elk and buffalo. My youngest son rather likes slow roasted buffalo or buffalo burgers. I, myself am rather partial to elk. It’s a very versatile delicate flavoured meat. I have worn furs for years and have high hopes for a new fur coat soon.

I suppose this makes me a blood thirsty Neanderthal, and yes, I probably would have eaten the heart to if it was offered or gladly taken seal pelts if they were offered to make a coat out of them. I blame Disney for a great deal of this ridiculous squeamishness which surrounds the eating of animals and the wearing of their fur. I wrote this some time ago and I think it still applies with just another caveat – I have found yet another reason to be grateful my family left old Europe.Bambi does not live in my world.

Let me get my bona fides out - front and centre. I once had a seal coat. It was the best coat I ever owned. I bought it second-hand at a church rummage sale in Holtville, New Brunswick for $2 in 1981. It was 35 years old when I bought it and it lasted another 5 years before the pelts eventually dried up so badly that the coat was splitting beyond repair. The only downside to owning a seal coat is that seal coats are heavy but unlike the high end rodent furs such as minks seal coats do not have to be babied. Seal coats can be worn in the freezing rain and you will stay warm and dry without damaging the fur. Furthermore, seal coats do not shed like the dog furs of coyote or wolf do.

I tried to replace my seal coat with another seal but by that time the anti-seal/fur fanatics had so ruined the market that even the wholesale furriers on Spadina Avenue were no longer purchasing any furs but farm fur coats. Hence, I had to settle for mink instead. Say what you will and I have worn all the alternatives to furs coats; down-filled, wool, the new synthetics like polar fleece, but nothing, and I do mean nothing, suits the Canadian climate as well as fur. Nothing will keep you warm like a fur coat in -30C or colder than a fur. It also does not require over a 100 plus years for a fur coat to biodegrade back into the environment unlike a coat made with a synthetic shell.

My grandfather was a fur trapper. He raised five children by trapping and working as a wood’s guide. He trapped my grandmother a bear coat that saw her through more winters than I have lived. After my grandmother died, my mother and my Aunties took my Grandmother’s bear coat and had it made into 5 teddy bears. In that way my grandfather’s labour of love was shared equally between his daughters.

I have a grey tabby cat named Rogue and I really like this cat, but he owes his existence in my home and my life because of his mousing abilities. If he had no mousing ability I would not live with a cat. The downside of living in a 19th century townhouse is that the rodents have too many ways in and places to nest. When the pest control specialist advises that the only way to keep the rodent population under control is to either demolition the building and start again or get a cat; one gets a cat.

I had a Shetland Sheepdog named Mistress. Not only did Mistress protect me and guard my property, she also herded the children when we were out. No child could step more than a few feet away before Missie herded the child back to me with either a nip at the pant bottoms or a pull on the pampers. Furthermore, Missie did not like fighting. Fight in front of Mistress and she would drag you down and bark in your face.

I have eaten beef, deer and moose on occasion. I have killed and plucked chickens. I have caught and gutted fish. I wear leather shoes and have leather clothes. I have marveled at the majesty of a bull moose, respected the power of bear, and the feral beauty of a wolf. I have cared for all my pets and I made sure that their physical needs were met before my own. I am grateful for the bounty and variety the Lord has provided but at the same time I will not place an animal on equal par with the value of a human life. It is time that we all take a deep breath and realize that Bambi exists only in the realm of make believe.

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