5.05.2014

Butchering Day

On the chopping block...

I remember the last time my family butchered chickens.  I was three years old.

I had spent the summer wandering around our yard, curious about the woods, but afraid to explore them yet.

The smell:  hot water mixed with chicken blood and feathers in the old copper boiler...

Running around the adults as they dispatched bird after bird, I stayed away, keeping a distance so I could see, but not so close at to get in the way.  I was told "don't get close" - sharp knives, hot water, blood and guts.

My grandmother and mother took them after their heads were cut off and they were hung up to bleed out. Grandma and Mom did the butchering in the yard right outside the kitchen, between the house and woods, just east of the big tree swing.  They worked on a table of planks over some saw horses; the birds were gutted, sliced open and bare hand reaching in, organs pulled out.  Smokey the cat milled around not far away, hoping for some fresh giblets.  Next they were put in the hot water, to help with removing the feathers. Final step was rinsing them inside and out.  In the end, they had went from feathered friend, to Sunday dinner, all in an afternoon...

I didn't know it then, but it was a sort of initiation.  I now knew what fewer people know nowadays: Where my food comes from.  My family didn't do it to save the earth, or eat healthier, but because they needed to, to get by. Our family was able to help themselves by having a garden, some livestock, and skills to process them into healthy delicious food on our table. What a blessing!