I’m not a proud man today. On Saturday I violated my own values in order to make a sale. I didn’t want to share this because I still feel guilty, but I think this needs to be said for those who wish to do business with us and others who may one day face a similar situation.
For the last few weeks I have been advertising our Swedish Ducks and Welsh Harlequin drakes for sale on craigslist. We sold a pair of our crested Swedish to one lady, 10 Swedish and 1 Welsh Harlequin drake to a family for their new property as mentioned in Bittersweet Departure, and another Swedish duck and one Welsh Harlequin drake Saturday. The difference between our first two sales and the one yesterday was that the couple buying yesterday wanted to eat the ducks.
As I stated clearly in my post, Graduation Day, I have no problem with eating meat nor with killing animals for that purpose. I do not raise my ducks for the express purpose of harvesting them for their meat. When I have a surplus of drakes, I will eat them and I will enjoy doing so.
The customers I had Saturday were critical of the size of ducks I was selling them. One was too small, the other too large. Nowhere in my advertisement was I marketing my ducks for eating so there’s really nothing that can be said about misrepresentation. I flatly told the man that if they weren’t to his liking then he did not have to buy them. He still wanted to and paid me the price I asked.
Before this couple came to our farm, I was clear that they would need to bring their own box or animal carrier since we do not supply these. They brought a small blue recycling bin with no lid. The type that you would keep under your sink for soda cans or juice boxes. When I pointed out that the ducks could simply fly out, they reassured me that they had done this before and would be tying the ducks. It was at this point that I should have sent these people away, but I didn’t and I truly regret it.
Both ducks had their legs tied and then both of their wings were tied to each other. So all 4 wings tied together inside of a box that they barely fit inside of. And off they went to drive home with the ducks in the back of their truck in the rain, terrified for the last hours of their lives.
I spent the rest of my day being angry at these people and the way they could have so little care for animals. Yes, they are about to eat them, but there is no reason for discomfort or abuse leading up to their death. They had asked me via text beforehand if I would kill them or if they would have to. I had just finished processing 5 ducks that day and I had no interest in doing it again so soon. I really should have. I should have killed these two ducks and sent the customers home to finish processing, if only to give these ducks a more dignified end to their lives.
We raised these ducks from ducklings. We gave them the best treatment we could at all times. For them to leave the farm this way was nothing short of a betrayal to them.
My wife helped me to realize that I was not angry with these people. They are doing only what is common and accepted in their culture. I was actually, and still am, angry at myself for allowing it. They were my ducks, under my care. I decided to allow it. That’s on me.
I’d like to share with you a little-known secret. Contrary to common wisdom, the customer is NOT always right. I must not violate my values in order to please a customer, and going forward I never will again. If someone cannot live with that, I don’t want them as a customer. That’s a hard thing to say as an owner of a small business that needs as many customers as it can find, but I truly believe it’s necessary if we are to stay true to ourselves and our mission to raise our animals as ethically and humanely as possible, up to and including the end of their lives.