Why do I butcher chickens?
Simple! I butcher chickens because …
No! Why do I butcher chickens?
Ah, the why behind the why. That’s a longer tale, and it goes back to 2009 when Matt and I quit the American Dream and packed up a 26-foot Penske to move in with his parents. Even that truck took some doing. New Life = No Stuff in my mind.
“Let’s get rid of it all!” I’d suggested in a brash moment. Of course I was thinking about the 99.9% of our hand-me-downs staged for the dumpster even before they came to us.
Matt nodded, seemingly in agreement, but then he brought up the 0.1% I’d die on – “And the table?”
Seriously – my family will bury me on my chunky World Market dining room table that somehow looks better the more Troys Boys bust it up (like yesterday, when Tommy was raking his fork across the top with his right hand while using his left to eat his pork). And it’s big. Enter the 26-foot Penske.
To say we were burned is inaccurate; it’s more that we were stupid. Three years prior to The Great Penske Exodus, we’d made another from Muncie, Indiana. We were bored and not living the life on paper we’d always dreamed about, so we packed it all up … for Cleveland! … To go to law school! … To eventually earn some monies! … To live that paper life!
Maybe you see a few holes in our dream plan. Snaps for you, but it took us a few years to clue into how our chosen life owned us. And when we did, we left it as fast we could pack that Penske.
What does this have to do with chickens?
Well. Lost dreams must eventually be replaced with others, right? Enter Matt and Beth’s Homesteading Period. More like Homesteading-Eh Period because I don’t think we ever realized this beyond a couple square-foot gardens, learning how to make bread and beer, and canning some applesauce. Baby steps in our plan to stick it to The Man by going off-the-grid, but you can see why, when folks from our church talked about butchering chickens that coming Saturday, I was there with my Wusthof paring knife, duck boots (to keep chicken guts off my feet), and straw hat (to keep chicken guts out of my hair). Dissecting was the only activity that ever interested me in science class, and I totally sunk into the act of cutting into the chicken, pulling out its innards, separating the breasts from the thighs from the drumsticks from the wings. Bird after bird. It was quite meditative, really. And at the end, I had some chicken to eat (to Matt’s disappointment. Boy wishes I’d learned how to butcher us some cows and hogs).
Fast-forward 8 years to Matt and Beth’s Adult Period. We’ve calmed down. There’s no raised garden bed at this house; we never even tried (because we always quit those gardens in July … right when the peppers and tomatoes for our homemade salsa were coming in). The boys refused to eat any of that applesauce I canned, and we’d rather buy our beer. I still make bread when I have time, which I don’t, but I find time every year to butcher those chickens. One, I own half an interest in a plucker (a modern miracle if you’ve ever plucked chickens by hand). Two, the people I butcher chickens with are the bee’s knees (and legit homesteaders).
And three? I get to laugh at myself. I don’t do it enough, but as I tighten the drawstring on my straw hat and slip on the duck boots still covered with wayward feathers from last year’s Chicken Sesh, I’m laughing about that paper plan, the dining room table that required a Penske, The Man, and the remnants of my failed frontier life … in this case chicken entrails, which make for some interesting scenes in that book I wrote.
Kidding. C’mon girls. That would be grody.