The First Harvest

Today I was planning to post pictures from this weekend when our friends came over to help butcher the chickens, but as I looked through them I realized that probably zero percent of anyone who reads my blog (aside, maybe, from the aforementioned friends) is going to want to see those pictures!  (I was also going to title this blog post “off with their heads!” but then I thought that might not go over too well, either.)

In all seriousness, though, both Manuela and I killed our first chicken on Thursday and it was very, very hard to do.  We’ve butchered chickens here before, but Jon has always taken care of it and I’m not even sure I’ve ever even watched.  It’s been one of those things I hide in the house for and I usually come out around the time when the chickens no longer look like chickens.  A few years ago, I did help to pluck them.  I had a very hard time with it, though, and we haven’t butchered chickens since.

But as we’ve been more and more convicted over the food we eat, and where it comes from (see Here and Here), I’ve become more and more desirous not to leave the responsibility of these animals – both their lives and their deaths – in someone else’s hands.  So this year, I butchered a chicken.

And it was hard.

And it was sad.

And it made me question my carnivorous status all over again.  But I keep coming back to what I’ve said before: For reasons I cannot begin to understand, God has set us up in a world where living things must die so that other living things can live.  None of us is exempt from this.  Whether we choose to eat carrots or beef, we all participate in this truth.

So while there was something horrible about butchering that chicken, there was something beautiful about it, too.  And I am thankful that the kids were involved and able to participate in something that is so normal – something that has happened since the beginning of time – that we as a society have lost touch with, that we hide from view behind closed doors and locked windows and expect “other people” to take care of.

This is the first of our harvest.  As I told Manuela, it will only get more difficult from here (we still have sheep and hope to add a beef cow in the future.)

But I am thankful to be able to participate in this struggle.  I am thankful that our chickens spent their lives scratching around the yard, eating bugs and pooping on my back porch.  :)  I’m thankful that they had a quick death at the hands of those who have cared for them, and although it sounds cliche, I’m thankful their for their sacrifice which will feed our family.

And on a lighter note, here are some pictures I CAN share…

Manuela with (as the kids called it): “the first one on the log”

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Plucking the chicken:

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We were worried about Bitty’s ability to handle us butchering her favorite bird, but she was just fine, and even plucked him herself!

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Michelle, figuring out how to quarter a chicken (none of us had ever done it before!)  We pulled up instructions on google.  What did people do before google?!

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Almost done!

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I didn’t get any pictures of them completely cut up, but I’m sorry to say that none of mine looked near as nice as Michelle’s did.  I kept holding up pieces asking “what is this?” while she looked at my hacked up pieces of meat in bewilderment.  Oh well, it’ll be good in stew.  :)

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Related Articles:

Why I’m Not a Vegetarian

The Sow Stays Still, and We Stay Senseless

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4 Responses to The First Harvest

  1. I could have not said it better Rina. I went to bed that day with a great feeling of accomplishment. Just like when I got my driver license or shot a gun for the first time.
    I felt empowered and thought: ” well if I ever get lost with my kids somewhere in the woods with no civilization around (assuming I am in Alaska- I guess), I could kill a bird and prep it to eat!”
    I wonder if I could offer “chicken butchering” as a field trip to my homeschooling group?

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