Saturday, August 7, 2010

Six-Piece Chicken Dinner

Tomorrow's the big day. I'm nervous.

It's been a good week; I didn't realize how long it's been since I've posted. Keith and I worked on a TV show for a few days, I had my birthday, we ran around Portland for a weekend having a wonderful time, and then we've been busy with gardening and other chores. Yesterday we went to the Bite of Oregon, a lovely tribute to gluttony that is held each year on the waterfront, and today we were going to go back but decided to be productive instead. And tomorrow...

We're killing chickens.

I didn't fully grasp the enormity of it all until we were in the backyard today, debating where to hang the killing cone we've borrowed. My friend Kelley, who is joining for the experience and is also one of its chief instigators, already called today just to talk about it a little more. She's been watching videos upon videos in preparation, and I need to do that too but I've been putting it off. I saw one. It was intense.

And yet this is NOT a big deal in the long run. How much chicken have I eaten in my life? How many chickens are killed for food every day? Or, how many meat chickens get to live to a ripe old age of 16 weeks, outside in the grass and sunshine, scratching around together and enjoying a chicken's natural life?

I went vegetarian at 11 years old, in the Delta of 1990. It wasn't easy; I pretty much had to learn to eat all over again. I remained a committed vegetarian for 12 years, guided by a set of ethics that still guides me today. It might sound weird to say that the same inspiration lay behind my vegetarianism and my plan to slit the throats of six chickens tomorrow, and I don't know if I can really explain this properly, but I do believe that homegrown meat is better for the body, the soul, and the planet than processed soy products shipped from distant factories. And homegrown meat comes with killing. I owe it to these birds, to the universe, and to all the meat I've eaten before, to go through the entire process at least once.

So there it is. These birds entered our lives as a carton of fertile eggs that we picked up on a spring day, from a farm in Scappoose. They were hatched in our garage in April, and moved to our backyard when their feathers came in to keep them warm. Keith and I (and my friend Ashly when we were out of town) have fed them, watered them, given them our kitchen scraps, watched them grow. For a few recent mornings we've woken up to the boys' first crowing attempts. And now that they're fully grown, they will return the favor and nourish us with (hopefully) delicious, healthy, homegrown meat. It's a beautiful thing, really.

Just got to get through tomorrow's bloodbath first.

I hope I don't chicken out.

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