About a month ago, I publicly shared about how I didn’t have the right to eat meat. The reason was that I found every excuse possible to get out of butchering my first chicken. I was intimidated and scared and in the end didn’t do it. Almost 4 months ago, we bought 9 chicks and 3 ducklings. As of earlier this week, we had 6 chickens left and unfortunately two of the ones that disappeared went to nourish some nearby predators. Of the 6 we have left, 3 are roosters and they are beginning to fight with each other so it was time to get rid of Jelly Bean and Meanie as the children have named them.
Well, the moment that scared me the most about raising chickens (for meat) came and I was able to pull myself to do it. I don’t think many Americans know what it actually takes to harvest the food they find in the grocery store. They buy meat that requires farmers raising animals on as little a budget as possible. Fruits, vegetables, and grains that require farmers to cut every corner possible to get maximum yield. Using processes that would cause the farmers of yesterday to turn in their graves. Some of the processes are thought to be the cause of new intolerances such as to gluten. It’s a time for America where the mentality is that buying food shouldn’t impact your non-discretionary spending. A trip to the grocery store to buy the most important item a body needs to survive shouldn’t get in the way of getting the newly released version of an iPod or the latest video game or for gosh sakes having cable tv. phew…just had to get that out. Forgive me but y’all are going to get a much more in depth talking to someday from me.
With my fears hanging out in the back of my head, I gathered up the courage to experience the process of putting chicken on the table. I have been reading over and over again about the process to try and understand the options and figure out how I wanted to do it. I wanted the slaughter to be as quick and effortless as possible. I wasn’t ready to break the neck with my fingers, so I chose the ax route. I swung the first time and got to experience the minute of activity that follows. I didn’t know if I missed or didn’t swing hard enough but the bird eventually calmed down and I could see the job was done.
The experience that follows this moment of taking the life is probably not as interesting to many , but it was to me since I have never cleaned an animal. If I had learned to hunt at some point in my life, a lot of the actual plucking and dressing part would have been familiar. But since I hadn’t I was stuck following step by step instructions. I plan to write up my own set of instructions some day since I was really left guessing on a few of the steps. It would have been tremendously helpful to have had someone standing behind me with experience but I didn’t have that luxury. Needless to say, in the end I have two roosters in my fridge and will be trying the meat soon.
I worked my way through the cleaning process the best I could based upon the steps my wife found in the following blog post: http://www.cultivatinghome.com/2008/10/how-to-butcher-chicken-easy-way.html
Since this process I have a read a little more about it. I came across a section of a book that shared what they called an old farm idiom. “If you’re going to raise animals for meat, you had better be man enough to kill them”
This was not true of me at first, but I have overcome my fear. It feels like an accomplishment to me. Let me remind you that my day job involves working on a computer and I’ve lived my whole life in the city caring nothing about where my food came from or what chemicals were in it. Things are changing for me.