Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Seven Treasure Chicken

Or was it 8? I don't remember! This was a recipe Larry found, and cooked for our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple. Instead of cooking an entire turkey for the two of us, we cooked up a whole chicken. The "treasures" are the ingredients used in the stuffing. Unlike typical American Thanksgiving turkey, this isn't a bread based stuffing. It has rice, carrots, peas, mushrooms, water chestnuts and other stuff. It's really good.

The point is, we ate this last night. It was wonderful. And it was a rooster that we raised from a day old chick until Monday night, when I told it goodbye, and gave it one last pet on his nice feathers. Our chickens are ready for slaughter, and this one had to go. It had already been crippled by its own weight and couldn't walk anymore. To leave it would mean it would slowly starve to death. So we did it and ourselves a favor. And we had it for dinner.

I'm writing this not just to tell you that we killed a chicken and ate it. I am writing because SOOOOO many of my friends are surprised by my ability to handle this. This was our third chicken dinner from our own chickens. I've watched all 3 slaughters, and mostly was there for the complete feather picking, gut emptying, feeding the dogs the liver experience. And no, I haven't cried yet. I may have to turn my head when it's Tweety's turn. But so far, this hasn't upset me as much as I thought it would, nor as much as my friends assumed it would.

I attribute part of it, honestly, to the whole "running around like a chicken with its head cut off" thing. Seriously, they do. They move a LOT. And just when you think the twitching is over, they'll give you one more go - with or without a head. it's really weird. I watch the birds. I want to make sure they are not suffering, and that it is just passing into sleep for them, despite their twitching nervous system. And the moment you just can't see - what they make dramatic flare out of in movies - is that precise moment when their life leaves them. Sure, you see their eyes close and their heads drop and think "bye, sweetie!" Just for them to pick their heads up again, open their eyes and flap their wings some more. Even when the eyes have closed for presumably the last time, there is still movement. Twitching feet, flapping wings. You really can't tell. There isn't a big SIGH. There isn't one final flop. You just can't tell. They go to sleep, slowly, and twitch while they are at it. It isn't gruesome. It isn't cruel. And that's why I don't cry. Granted, I never stick my hand up their bums to pull out their organs, either! So don't think I've become some hardened farm girl over night. I'm still me. I'm still deathly afraid of spiders (and we have some doozies out here!) But now I get to eat the freshest chickens that are never fed chemicals, never confined to a small cage, never left to trample all over their dead brother or sister. I know, because I see every day that these guys get to hang out outside, eating feed and bugs, with fresh water. They get sunshine and fresh air. They get to keep their beaks, their feet, and are not genetically mutated in any way. And in the end - they taste pretty good too. It's the circle of life. And it really isn't sad at all.