It only felt odd when I started to really think about it. His ankles were crossed casually, wings tucked under with such innocence. I pulled out the warm innards, noting each part; liver, lungs, heart, intestines, esophagus. I cracked the legs off with such ease, only having to slice away the elastic skin to free the yellow curled up claw. The smell of scalding chicken lingered in my nose, not to be forgotten for some days I can imagine. Feathers were glued to my apron covered round belly.
Slaughtering and processing your own chickens shouldn’t feel all that different from gutting a fish, and truthfully it doesn’t, though the stigma and response changes. There is more blood, there is more noise (occasionally), and there is certainly more work, but all in all it is quick and efficient and it feels right to be the ones getting your hands dirty for your own nourishment. The boys stayed busy making paper mache while the actual killing went down, and then for the cleaning, it was a science lesson to say the least. Questions, mostly about the amount of blood, or lack of head, were asked over and over again. A few apologies to the chickens were tossed out there, sweetly and gracefully. We never hid that this was going to happen. We said a simple blessing before it all began, the boys participating with such intensity. But once the sight was seen they honestly hardly reacted at all. I suppose they normally don’t when I expect otherwise. These normal things, these real, everyday life things do not phase them. Life and death are as normal as breakfast and supper to a being that is new to this world.
So, I froze all the meat, thinking it would be a few days before I felt the inclination to cook our feathered friends. But, I could stomach a nice fresh stock. With all this lovely produce and all these refreshing herbs coming off our hill, it only made sense. The largest pot I own simmered those carcasses all afternoon, allowing us to savor every last bit of the boys just learning to cock a doodle. I fried dumplings, vegetable dumplings stuffed with goat cheese, and finished them in a ladle full of the stock still rolling.
While the chickens were on our mind prior to the d-day, we had lots to distract us over this long weekend. A party with friends both new and old to celebrate this country’s birthday kept us busy and smiling for all the days before. Kids were every where you looked, rolling down hills, cruising on bikes, munching on macaroons. Adults were having some laughs and drinks and hoping their kids weren’t the ones hollering at the moment. Though we all had our turn in time.. That is just the way it works. Sparklers and fountains ended the nights festivities, before the little ones in the crowd could even melt down. It was perfection.
A weekend as full as one could imagine. Mindful appreciation, on both ends of the spectrum.