Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The No-Nonsense Lessons Taught by Butchering

I woke up this morning swearing that I was going after the chickens with a shot gun--as if I would know how to use one, yet alone hit anything....Their 5 am cackles and squawks continue to conflict with my desire to live a harmonious life with all creatures, great and small.

I finished my day butchering a baby meat bird with a bum leg who hobbled around pathetically getting trampled by the others. I mixed the meat of the little guy into our dinner tonight which we ate while discussing the chicken who lays translucent, soft eggs. I can only imagine these strange eggs come from Bear-Bare Butt, who likely lost the part of her anatomy that hardens the eggs to the bear who tried to chomp her. I am prepared to butcher her later this week. No point in feeding a bird that doesn't produce.

It wasn't always this way. I moved to Paonia five years ago a staunch vegetarian of 12 years which included two years as a vegan. My friend Emily made the transition from our liberal arts college to the town's leading expert on butchering with little hesitation or previous experience while I attempted to hide the fact that parts of country living made me uncomfortable. I couldn't control the instinct to cover my eyes and run when faced with death.

Rural living has taught me a bit about no-nonsense resourcefulness, though I still have a long way to go. I still haven't killed anything myself, though the blood and guts don't bother me and I'm petrified of facing another mountain lion or a bear. Even dealing with skunks requires me to practice deep breathing and ample self-coaching; otherwise I am no different from our screeching darting chickens. I want to know and experience that I am a part of the natural world. Like a pioneer who possesses a blend of dauntless grit, some day I will be as assuredly pragmatic as I am untamed.

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