The butchering of chickens and other forms of protein happens all of the time, by individual hand and factory. It’s an ordinariness that never loses its unease. Picking up your protein from a local butcher does however take the edge off.
What I wonder about is, when it took two urban farmers plus one 5th grade farmhand all day to butcher, prep, make stew and stock from two hens how anybody had time for the quilting, sewing and woodworking. Hell, even just splitting wood for a fire seems like it would go by the wayside.
post butchering cleanup
remains of the day
“We all go a little mad sometime.” Psycho
I’ve got friends that won’t let me choose a film because no matter the effort it’s bound to be disturbing on some level. There’s a brevity in the social media realm that was brought indirectly to my attention this weekend when a friend who knew “just the facts” of butchering mean bunnies observed that perhaps one should be uneasy because I was seemingly unaffected by the experience. This could be the ebb and flow of my communication, the perception of time constraints, of stepping into anything deeper than the obvious. And there’s that character limit shifting the focus back to social media.
So yes, I participated in the butchering of two mean bunnies, “mean” being the determining factor in the selection of who became dinner. Mean defined as pet at your own risk, chances are blood (and not the rabbits) will be drawn. Intellectually knowing this somewhat helps rationalize the process. I was after all a vegetarian for twenty plus years. Not a strict one, there was fish included in my diet and I also had the indulged in the occasional slice of prosciutto because there was and is nothing better than a slice of melon or fig wrapped in the substance. It was more of a taste versus moral stance on my part.
Participated in that I’m an observer, a witness. My camera functions as a politically correct prop, the way a cigarette used to do at a party. There was not queasiness, just slight free floating, a bit out of body anxiety steadied with yes, the camera. This works for me in large crowds too. I somehow felt it important to see it through start to finish. A sliver of comfort stepped in when the rabbits were half skinned as then they resembled something I was familiar with the cliche of tastes like chicken. Steaks, chicken and fish, we all are used to seeing in the grocery store. There’s no shock value there it’s like overdosing on an excess of action adventure films. We become immune to the violence.
Did I enjoy the barbeque rabbit hours later? Not really, there was a certain unease but appreciation for how it got there none the less.
Coq au Vin, the authentic version and a vast amount of chicken stock for canning was on our minds when my friend Cassie needed to dispatch four of her roosters for various reasons. I had Henry as a captive audience in the car so was inclined and able to give my “Where do you think your food comes from?” talk and tossed in “Chickens don’t poop out breaded nuggets.” for good measure. I didn’t know how he would react to the butchering.
The sharp knife option, you know they are dead
By the time we arrived at Garden Girl Farm Cassie had already butchered two of of the four roosters but we were up close and personal for the remaining duo. It’s not an urban or in this case farm myth that chickens run around once the beheading has happened. It’s unnerving just how long they are still active. In the moment it feels like forever. Once the birds was killed we dipped them in boiling water to ease the plucking off of their feathers. I have no plucking shots because, well I was busy with handfuls of feathers, going back in for the stubborn quills.
Cassie waiting for the headless chicken to quiet down
Once plucked Cassie butchered the chicken. Also a bit unsettling was the behavior of the remaining flock. Those hens were hanging around waiting to be tossed the bits and pieces of what was an outstanding anatomy lesson. Apparently there is nothing more tasty to a chicken then a fellow bird’s lung or liver. Moving on to the portion of the day that most of us are more familiar with we browned the now salted chicken in some olive oil.
The browning chicken
Into a stock pot the size of which I’m envious went the browned chicken, onions, celery, carrots and various herbs from the garden. Another portion of the chicken along with the above ingredients and a couple of bottles of Merlot went into another pot for the start of Coq au Vin. Remember scratch n’ sniff stickers? I wish there was that option for the simmering stock image.
The simmering stock
There had been a whole bunch of verbal bravado from the boy. Would Henry swear off of meat? Would there be tears? Nope, I think he’s just fine. A chicken pot pie was consumed for dinner that night.