last october, the day before my 29th birthday, i took part in my first harvesting of a chicken.

 

in mid-june i started working at my job and i met a co-worker named sue. sue is a true sweetheart and a very hard worker. i mentioned to sue that i had never taken part in hunting or harvesting my own animal food. i told her that it was super important to me and on my list for future homesteading. sue and her husband have been raising chickens for over 30 years. she told me that they had a rooster who’s soon to be harvested. i expressed strong interest in wanting to be a part of the process. at that point i had just left dallas. opportunities to engage in such honest, true telling moments seemed like one in a million. birth and death, those are the real deal. for months sues husband larry would stop by our place of work waiting for sue clock out. he’d ask me how our homestead was doing and remind me that i was going to “do it”. he’d alway say it in such a way that meant I and I ALONE was to do the harvesting.

one day they called us last minute as we were running late to head to dallas. they wanted to know if i wanted to come over because now was the time. i told them i couldn’t and hung up the phone. a moment later i doubted whether keeping our schedule was the right priority. i called sue back but within those few short minutes it was already done.

they let me know that they had an older rooster who was picking on hens and whose days were numbered. we picked a date where mark and i were free to meet up with larry. the day before my birthday. something about each birthday lately having a feeling of my ignored mortality. my brain is saying “there’s something here” and my mind saying ” it is what it is, let’s not think about it”, that’s what my last few birthdays have been feeling like. as though because i hadn’t thought about my morality before i shouldn’t start now. i don’t know.

so the date is set. i keep trying not to project how i’m going to react. i’m choosing to stay in the moment. my brain keeps trying to suck me in with this recurring image of me squealing like a little princess and crying like a big baby. i watched the stories my mind came up with and thought, “i guess we’ll see.”

on the drive over to larrys house, a lot was going on. everything around me was super quiet and still but my adrenaline was a freight train. i kept hearing larry say that i was going to be the one to do it. i kept wondering if i could. i kept thinking of a time 3 years ago when i knew i no longer could be vegan but the feeling of eating an animal was truly overwhelming. the first time mark made me a beef patty i was so overwhelmed, it was a nightmare where i couldn’t move; scared and paralyzed. 4 months went by of me not being able to scale that wall but i needed to. somehow i got to the other side. i thought about an interview with lierre keith talking about all this pro-animal foods stuff (“my diet builds topsoil” -LK) and feeling like she was finally making ends meet. then at the end of the talk she says that we all need to be going to the farm and helping out on harvesting day. paralysis once again.

i thought over and over about what i was capable of and how i’ve thought very weak thoughts in the past. the decade i wasn’t eating animals foods i’m sure i thought “i could but i don’t want to” but when the shoe was one the other foot the story was very different. in the moment of having to really face that idea of “i could” i feel apart. every level of my being said i couldn’t. for 4 months i’d wake up and that feeling didn’t resolve itself. then finally resolution took place.ck1 copy

so on the drive i thought about how far i had come. that it’s okay to have all those mixed feeling while moving forward. i wasn’t being weak, i was going to be strong so i could be fully present to find out if harvesting animals is going to be part of my future like i think it is.

ck2 copy

when we pulled up to larrys house all the chickens were out foraging except you know who. he was in a cage. i went over to the cage and kept breathing. i looked at the rooster and tried to be open to the unknown.  in all honesty i wanted to feel how that rooster was feeling in that moment. larry comes down the stairs and walks over to us. one of the first things he said was “do you want to do it or do you want me to”. instant comfort. clearly the right question. i kept feeling that i wanted to do it but i couldn’t even imagine what it was i’d be doing. he held the rooster by his feet and put one hand around the roosters neck. he kept showing me what to do but my brain thought there was more to the story. i’d grip the roosters neck and he wouldn’d struggle. i didn’t understand. the rooster was not resisting. with my hand on his neck i kept thinking that if i start to really “do it”, i don’t know, maybe he’ll pull out a gun or something. i tell larry that i need to watch the first time. in front of my eyes he broke the roosters neck. i was in shock that it wasn’t more brutal, that i wasn’t more emotional, that the rooster engaged & didn’t resist. i’ve read before that other people have brought agressive roosters to the chopping block who seemed like they were agreeing to process and in their last moments not being agressive at all but willing. i don’t know. i don’t want to be arrogant or presume anything.

ck3 copy

harvesting plants and that rooster, both have felt very natural. like not doing those things makes me feel less human. removing the skin (larrys prefers that to removing feathers), guts and organs was more of my thing. which works out because mark would rather do the harvesting while i do the cleaning. cleaning takes off the pressure of actually doing the deed while still being of use and participating in the realness of feeding   myself.

ck4 copy

larrys cat circled the chicken as we took his insides out. the cat knows the name of the game, food. when the chicken was done being processed it’s crazy how my brain goes from seeing an animal to seeing food. larry takes the chicken inside and scrub it down with water, puts it in a bag and gifts it to us.

ck5

two thoughts worth mentioning:

1: how i wish that i grew up being competent and comfortable with handling such human realities. i have friends that grew up hunting and raising chickens and clearly could take care of themselves better as a youth than i can going into my 30s. i think confidence and skill is key even if you never need to use your confidence and skills… like if we were in some crazy outer space world where all of our foods came from packages… yeah! ohhh, you could just use your confidence and skills to get a fancy job! highhhhhhhhhh five.

2: i am beyond obsessed with my future life being based on my backyard (which includes the town, county, etc) where i live. my driving force to homestead is to take off the mental pressure that everything in my life comes from someone elses backyard. i don’t know for sure whether the things i’m buying were stolen or involved slaves (women & children) or chemicals, or are prisitine goods that truly belong the the poorest of the poor…. (that’s my BIG DEAL in a nut shell).

anarchist kitchen tiny house and land

as always, we live in a tiny house in the woods. for pictures & info go to my website TinyHouseAndLand.com

Advertisements