Last Monday was so beautiful! I really wish you could have just been there.
Like most days, it started shortly before dawn — and, like most days, it was welcomed by the crowing of a dozen rowdy old roosters!
Aside from that, everything was quiet… 😉
The clouds on the eastern horizon were just barely starting to turn pink around the edges (another beautiful sunrise was on its way), and although there wasn’t any frost on the ground, there was definitely a cold bite in the air. It may sound kinda crazy, but everything just smelled like autumn.
Don’t ask me what autumn smells like though, because I really can’t describe it.
It just has a smell all its own.
But anyway, here’s this breathtakingly beautiful fall morning — our steer and goats were quietly munching on their hay, Ryu was going to town on his dog food, the cats were all flocked around their communal food bowl, the chickens were scratching around in their coops, and what was I up to?
I was ambling in and out of the garage, setting up our outdoor propane cooker, carrying the card table and folding chairs out to the backyard, gathering 5-gallon buckets and lining them with garbage bags, and filling up a big stock pot full of water — and pausing every now and then to admire the sunrise.
Y’see, last Monday was butchering day.
Remember how I mentioned those 12 roosters crowing? Well, 11 of ’em were destined for the freezer…
(We did hang on to old “Ricky” though — he’s become kind of a permanent fixture here at the One Acre Lott). 🙂
But before I get too far into this story, I have to confess something: I REALLY don’t like killing. I’ve always kinda had a soft heart when it comes to that sort of thing. I just don’t like doing it.
But at the same time, I realize that you can’t have life without death.
I mean, it really doesn’t matter whether you eat meat or whether you’re a vegetarian; one way or another, something is going to have to give its life in order for you to live.
That being said, we eat meat around here.
We try to eat it sparingly, and we try to do it responsibly. But at the end of the day, we do eat meat.
Also, if you remember, we’ve raised these old roosters from eggs (see my Hatching Time blog post), and I’ve been out there taking care of them virtually every single day, morning and night, since the moment they hatched.
And let me tell ya, it isn’t easy to raise an animal like that; to look into its eyes and then take its life.
That’s why, before we even started the butchering process, I took a quiet moment and offered up a bit of a prayer.
I’m sure it probably looked kinda strange to see me out there next to the chicken coop, with my arms folded and my head bowed — with a knife and a hatchet in my hands.
You can say what you will, but it was just really important to me to thank God for those beautiful animals — and for the blessing that they’ll be to my family.
Taking a life is kind of a sobering responsibility…
I do, however, take comfort knowing that they lived good lives.
I know that those silly old roosters were well taken care of. They spent their days scratching and flapping and crowing — and pretty much doing whatever the heck they felt like doing!
I also know that they were dispatched quickly and humanely — and (after a long, but enjoyable day of cleaning, plucking, and cutting with my father-in-law) I know that every last bit of ’em was used.
All the meat, of course, went into the freezer, and so did the hearts, livers, and gizzards (in a zip-lock bag labeled “squishy bits”). The feet and carcasses got boiled up into a delicious broth. The lungs and kidneys went to Ryu, and the rest of the gut pile went to the cats. Heck, even the feathers got used! (We shoveled ’em into the garden to help fertilize the soil).
I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but the older I get, the more I realize (much to my chagrin) that I’m turning into a bit of a philosophical old hippie…
I mean, who in their right mind buries chicken feathers in their garden?!
Oh well. It is what it is, right?
I did have to laugh though — because at the end of the day, when we were all gathered round the dinner table (enjoying some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever tasted), Lindsey informed me that she was watching out the window with our fascinated Little Monkey the whole time I was using the hatchet to dispatch roosters…
Apparently while I was carrying out that grizzly job, one rooster in particular was running and flapping around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off, and our sweet Little Monkey started giggling and pointing and telling Lindsey:
“Rooster! It jump! It jump!”
One thing’s for certain, that little girl will definitely know where her food comes from!