(For the first part of this story click here.)Number 1: So how is the harvest going, Number 2?
Number 2: Overall, very well. We hit a few problems but they mostly worked in our favour in the end. For example, it turned out that most of the males couldn’t breed in captivity. However, the males that will breed are able to produce a more than adequate rate of pregnancy. The males and females that fail in the breeding pens are sent to slaughter.
Number 1: What is that irritating buzzing I can feel in my tentacle tips, Number 2?
Number 2: Oh, my apologies sir, I forgot to warn you about that. Don’t worry, you get used to it after a while.
Number 1: But what is it?
Number 2: It’s the animals, sir. Sometimes they vibrate the air that comes out of the respiratory organ so violently that we can feel it. It’s worse when we tip their upper appendages (we have to remove the tips because they’ve been using them to damage each other and the equipment).
Number 1: Could it be a sign of distress?
Number 2: Oh no, sir! [laughs] It’s just a reflex, they can’t feel pain like we do.
Number 1: Oh good. So tell me about the malnutrition problem.
Number 2: As you know, most of the incoming animals are malnourished in some way or other, sir. The ones that are undernourished have such poor quality meat that we were considering not harvesting them at all. However, we hit upon the ingenious idea of processing them into feed for the breeders (apart from the eyes, of course). [colours up proudly]
Number 1: What a fabulous idea, Number 2, I shall consider a suitable reward for your team. Now, I gather that there have been significant problems with the milking pens…
Number 2: Well, the quality and quantity of the milk drops off radically when the offspring are removed. Also, the females are having to be force-fed and there are numerous cases of mastitis and so on. [blackens with fear] We may have to consider dropping this side of the harvest sir. There are just too many problems and the yields are too low.
Number 1: Don’t give up just yet Number 2. Give our experts a bit more time to work on the issues.
Number 2: Yes, sir. Will that be all, sir?
Number 1: Yes… [distractedly] I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that buzzing…
Number 1: Yes Number 2?
Number 2: We’ve identified a candidate species. Removal is projected to stabilize the climate, increase biodiversity, and halt various kinds of serious environmental degradation.
Number 1: Sentience?
Number 2: No significant telepathic or chromatic communication, no faster-than-light travel, and no ability to optimize their environment. (Sir, [vibrates with disgust] they excrete into their water sources, and dump vast quantities of other waste products into the water, soil and air.)
Number 1: Bottom line?
Number 2: Mature individuals can breed at any time with minimal preparation. Most of the flesh consists of high quality protein and fat. It’s a little contaminated due the animal’s dirty habits but it can be cleaned up. The skin can be treated and used as clothing and so on. The eyeballs are particularly tasty and may turn out to be a highly profitable luxury item. The females lactate, and we may be able to use some of the glands for perfume.
Number 1: So Number 2…, this is going to be a very profitable harvest.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I recently met a Buddhist monk called Ajahn Kalyano. The Ajahn is the first Buddhist teacher that I’ve come across who uses art in his dhamma talks. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll probably have realised that I prefer plenty of pictures with my words, so I like the idea of illustrated dhamma talks. The Ajahn has kindly given me permission to share a “cartoon” that he created recently (see below).
Did you notice the spirals? It turns out that the Ajahn has just become interested in Celtic art. He wants to incorporate Celtic knots into artwork for a book of his talks. So that was a serendipitous meeting, wasn’t it? I was able to help him a little with the designs for inside the book, and I’ve sent him copies of my knotwork dhamma wheel, which may be suitable for the cover.
[Update 30/09/14: I’m told that the Ajahn’s book “The Thread” will be available for download from http://www.alokabodhi.org.uk/ soon.]