I’d never butchered a chicken. 6ish years of chicken butchering and hundreds of chickens processed since we started farming and I never actually fully butchered a single chicken.
Somehow I managed to always be at the end of the processing assembly line. I managed to be the one who rinsed the birds or bagged them up to be shrink wrapped or ran the drinks and snacks or made the lunches or managed the kids, but I never did the deed. I ‘knew’ how it was done. I’d observed Andy and others dozens of times to have a full and complete understanding of the entire chicken butchering process. But, the knives were always in someone else’s hands. Until today.
Today we invited a couple of friends to a chicken butchering ‘class.’ We actually invited whoever was interested in learning from a local farming Facebook group, but our friends just so happened to be the ones who came out. I’m glad it was them. We knew them. So, when Andy realized that I’d never actually killed a chicken and we decided that it was finally time to stop vicariously butchering chickens and I cried, I’m glad it was my friend who was there to hug me and not a complete stranger wondering what the big deal was.
It is a big deal. It’s a big deal to us, because I often find myself defending our choice to raise our food and especially to butcher our own animals. It’s a big deal to take an animal’s life even if the sole purpose of that animal was to feed our family. It’s our choice to eat meat and it’s our choice to raise it the best and most humane way possible and then to end its life in the most humane way possible.
I can justify it all day long, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. Satisfying? Yes, indeed. Not because I take satisfaction in butchering animals. Not at all. It’s not easy. However, I am deeply satisfied knowing that the food I serve my family was raised by our own hands. I’m satisfied knowing that I can now process, for the table, any bird and that I am no longer the ‘expert’ with no hands on experience. I’m satisfied knowing that Andy can count on me to come alongside him on the next butchering day and from field to freezer I can manage to butcher chickens. I’m satisfied knowing that I can be a little vulnerable and honest and completely confident in my chicken butchering confessions.