This evening I held the chicken in my hand and paused, then paused some more. Then the moment became too long and a little awkward. I had dispatched a chicken twice before without any real hesitation. The first time I simply got on with the job. The second time had to be quick to ensure the already injured and distressed bird did not suffer any longer. This time it was for food and somehow that changed everything.
Earlier that evening the lovely Sharon came home from work claiming that one of her colleagues thought we should simply release our excess cockerels into the countryside. The
lovely perplexed Sharon pointed out that they would not last long, but her colleague said that at least they would have a chance, and instead we should just buy a chicken from the store. This strange logic did not sit well with us at all. Why would we give them a chance….to be eaten by a fox? And why would we buy a chicken when we have these ones of our own that we have looked after, cared for and have had a happy life (until now)?
The moment standing in the woodshed had dragged on embarrassingly long. The chicken was so much larger and more majestic that our other hens, but they are not pets and the males need to be culled before they begin to fight. I got on with the job.
After the plucking was nearly complete the lovely Sharon and the little man were taking their evening walk around the cottage. She called to me from around the wood shed door, “does it still look like a chicken?” “No, I think we can risk it.” She continued around the corner with the little man in tow. This was a dangerous moment and the tension was in the air. He looked at me, “DAAD Deeee.” Then he looked at the carcass hanging from the roof, then he looked back to me with a look of deep thought. Slowly he lifted his pointed hand and raised it to his head declaring, “hat”. One of two things happened in those few brief seconds. Either he comprehended the situation fully, the circle of life, animal husbandry, and then chose to diffuse the situation and demonstrate his maturity to his mother and father. Or, he was proud of his hat and wanted to share one of his new words.
Later that evening a friend of ours called round with a selection of knives. She is our culinary mentor and enthusiastically taught me how to cut up a chicken. I am ashamed to say that this is something I have never done before as we never buy whole chickens. I tried to impress her with my precious Global knife, but it was not the tool for the job and was put to shame by her fillet knife. Mine just didn’t cut it (sorry). During the gutting and filleting we discussed meat quality, ligaments and knife doctors. Our local Spar has a knife doctor in residence and our knives, and our mentors knives are due a check-up soon. For a while we pondered the stock; with or without chicken feet? We opted out this time, maybe next time we will be more adventurous.