Sunday, June 9, 2013

And then there were none.

You might remember that a few weeks ago (seven actually), I brought home a little box full of Cornish Rock meat chicks.  Since we were loving our laying hens so much, we thought we'd try the full range of chicken-ness and decided to give meat birds a go.  The chicks ate and grew and ate like crazy, quickly transforming from these fuzzy little puffs

to chickens that clearly needed bigger quarters

to birds that were ready for the butcher.

I had mixed feelings about this.  We tried not to love them.  Really, we did.  We did not snuggle them, name them, or whisper sweet nothings to them.

But, in the process of feeding them, watering them, moving them outside for daytime, moving them inside for nighttime, protecting them from harm, keeping them warm enough, and shielding them from direct sunlight, I have to admit that a tiny bit of love was starting to take root.

And yet, at 7am this morning, I loaded them up in the backseat and drove them to the butcher.

It was a charming place, a farmhouse with a few small barn-type buildings and the requisite pick-up truck.

The farmer and his wife were welcoming and did a quick, clean, and thorough job.  Within 15 minutes, my chickens were loaded in the cooler, packed on ice, and ready for dinner.

This, I was prepared for.

I was not prepared for watching the farmer do his job just 10 feet from me.  I was not prepared for the sounds.  I was not prepared for the barn cats helping themselves to the scraps.

I was not prepared to feel this emotion which was borderline love.

The farmer took one look at my troubled self and said kindly, "Is this your first time?"  All I could do was nod and blow my nose.

I pulled myself together enough to drive home and show the cooler to my waiting family.  We decided that in order to move past the events of the morning, we needed to allow one chicken to fully serve its purpose, so into the crockpot it went.

I chose a recipe with a curry rub, because the smell of curry seems to take all bad feelings away.  We left the house for an afternoon birthday party, and by evening the meal was ready.

Tender, fragrant, clean, tender, chickeny, juicy, and did I mention tender?

Alive, these chickens were bad at so many things.  They were not charming. They were not pretty.  They were not smart.  They did not even like to walk around and peck at bugs, like good chickens are supposed to.  But as a meal, they have finally found something they are good at.  Dinnertime is their moment to shine.

Thank you, chickens, for feeding my family tonight.