Tell me the truth and I will deal with it; force rose-colored glasses on me and I'm totally unprepared to deal with the world once the spectacles are ripped away. I so very very much hate that feeling of the carpet pulling out from underneath you; when you are left viewing the world from a much different perspective after a violent readjustment.
I believe that living wide awake and facing the grotesque with the beauty is an honest, just way to live.
So when the big factory farms try to sell me packages of meat with images of happy farms and chickens living their lives in sunshine and glorious fields of green I get very pissy. The real reality includes enclosed, crowded chicken houses that require the chickens to wade through inches of fecal waste to get to automated food troughs. And then the insane assembly line at the slaughter houses, well...it's absolutely horrifying.
I don't want to support that reality. I don't want my money to tell the proprietors that this is all okay.
"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity." --Ralph Waldo Emerson
So, friends, a few weeks ago - for the first time - we slaughtered a chicken.
It was the first time in my life that I willing chose to end of the life of anything bigger than a spider (that squirrel on 10th Avenue three years ago sooooo doesn't count - I swear it was a kamikaze squirrel).
The deed had been on the radar for several weeks but we were, well...chicken. Choosing to take knife in hand and kill an animal you've raised since its early days is not an easy thing. The animal knows you, knows that you are a provider. And there's a reluctance, because the burden of making it an ethical, humane kill is solely on your shoulders.
It wasn't technically a spontaneous act, but one Sunday a few weeks ago TMOTH and I screwed up our courage enough to proceed with plans. And once the decision was made we got down to business quickly.
There are plenty of websites out there, dear reader, that go into the nitty-gritty details of how to slaughter and butcher a chicken, so I won't bother sharing the technical processes.
I will, however, tell you it was a wide-awake experience, with sounds and smells which are etched in the surfaces of our memories. The girls were present during the entire activity and participated when appropriate (mostly when it was time to pluck). It was a very quiet time, but there were no tears.
In the end, we had a seven-pound (dressed weight) chicken. Since Rock Star was a meat bird, she had met her market weight of three to four pounds at around six to eight weeks of age. Because we had been dragging our feet about the slaughter, she had managed another six weeks of growth beyond that. She was big.
When folks who were in the know later asked, "How did she taste?" my reply was always, "Honest." Crazy honest. There was no trickery or deception in that chicken meal.
Rock Star had a good life. She always had access to food and water and friends. She was often given treats and and had a clean coop. She was never fed the remnants of other animals, and she was never injected or fed antibiotics while in our care. Her slaughter was swift and done out-of-sight of her coop-mates. Her carcass wasn't injected with solutions of sodium nastiness.
She was an honest chicken.
Thank you, Rock Star.