Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day Off, with Chicken Guts

But no pictures. Promise.

For the last 3 Sundays, we have been butchering 2 or 3 chickens and putting them in the freezer. We try to raise as much of our food as possible, both to reduce our carbon footprint and to take responsibility for the food we eat. (As a further plus, we know where our food comes from and how it was treated before it hit our plates.)
We treat our chickens with great kindness during their lives. We make sure they have plenty of food, fresh water, room to move, fresh air. We speak to them daily, and give them friendly pats whenever we can. Though the concept of 'patting' seems to be slightly alien to chickens - they do give us funny looks...
Over the 3 years we've been raising them, we've gotten it down to a system. Madman does the actual killing - it's hard on him because he is the kindest of people, so he does it as humanely as possible. I do the plucking, since that kind of task makes him go stark staring bonkers. (I think I have some OCD tendencies - give me a tedious repetitive task and I'm just happy for hours. And hours...) Then it's his turn again - removing the messy bits (I think this appeals to his inner Man-the-Mighty-Hunter), then I take over again for the division of parts and packaging for the freezer. We make a good team, since neither of us wants the jobs the other one is doing.
We aren't vegetarians, nor do we plan to be. (Especially me, since I'm both lactose-intolerant and allergic to soy. A lifetime of nothing but rice and beans just ain't gonna happen...) We do eat the occasional vegetarian meal; even non-vegetarians can enjoy a plate without meat.
Though, actually, I was a vegetarian from the time I was 16 till 19. This was back in the days when saying you were a vegetarian was like saying "Hi, I'm from Mars!" I finally gave it up because I was working a gazillion hours a week, was too tired to cook for myself, and the only thing I could find to eat out was a grilled cheese sandwich. I was starving. And I missed bacon. Really really missed bacon. And pork chops. And my Grandma's fried chicken...
I have the utmost respect for true vegetarians. I admire their commitment. But it's not my path.

And as my final word on vegetarianism: my youngest daughter would tell me about her classmates who claimed "I'm a vegetarian. Except for fish. And chicken."
I wanted to tell them, "Honey, if anything you eat has a face, you ain't a vegetarian..."


Anna M said...

You've just made me super happy!!! Hopefully someday I can come and watch and help, this is something I really want to learn how to do and it's hard finding folks around here that actually do this. I'm finding more than a few folks who only raise chickens for eggs and don't eat them which I really, really do *not* understand!

Joansie said...

How great that you raise your own food!!! I used to be able to do that also and it's very comforting to have a freezer full of food and a couple cord of wood stacked in the back yard (dried, of course).

Laurie said...

Would love to raise poultry, but I don't think I could kill birds I've had interactions with. Even if the rel'ship was one sided.