Thursday, November 24, 2011


The day came. And it was different than what I thought it would be. It didn't happen where I thought it would, the cast was slightly different. It was cold, I called that. I had knives and gloves and bags and I had a clear mind. A resolved mind, or a resigned mind. I checked my mind in somewhere else, there would be no complicating this process with how I felt about it. It would be a mechanical series of events. Slit the throat while holding the bird firmly between my knees. Lift the flapping bird carefully not to bruise the wing meat and place it head down into the metal funnels, tie the feet, let it bleed. Repeat, until the rack of funnels was full. No more room at the inn. Move to the next step. Untie the feet and lift the limp bird up and carry it to the scalding tank, where for 3 or 4 seconds I swish the bird from side to side, lifting and dunking, watching the accumulated shit balls stuck in the chest feathers mostly dissolve away. Lift the now dripping bird up and test pull a few wing feathers out to make sure the scalding has been effective. If needed, dip again, swish again. Carry the bird, always by the feet to the plucker. Resting on the edge of the plucker, cut off the feet, neatly, at the knee. Let the bird slide into the plucker until there are 4 or 5 inside. Turn on the plucker. Step away and slit more throats while kneeling on the frozen ground. Tie and untie, dip, swish, cut, pluck until all 25 birds are heaped into a clean white plastic container. Next step. Evisceration. With knives rinsed and sharpened and new gloves on we begin to gut the birds in unison standing next to each other at the evisceration rack. Evisceration station. First, cut off the oil gland which is below the anus, next, cut around the anus and gently pull out the guts. The guts are warm and unless they are punctured are not that disgusting, I am not thinking about anything beyond getting this job done neatly. Pull the guts out, the heart, the lungs, the liver. Save the livers and hearts and some necks. I am not being as thrifty as I should be, my feet are getting wet. If it weren't for the greenhouse where this is taking place, we'd all be much colder. Once cleaned the birds rest in a cold bath of water. There is ice on top, this is a good thing. They float in the water and look cold but like meat and that is a good thing. They are no longer living creatures, they have stepped across the threshold and have become food. This is a good thing. We bag them up. My fingers are numb and I can't open the ziploc bags. The bags, once loaded are pleasingly heavy. We clean up what we need to. I wash the feet and set them aside in a bucket and then bag them up. I hose feathers into a pile and we scrub blood from the metal bleed rack. It's done and we go home and get warmed up. I let myself think again, and the feelings I have the most of are related to accomplishment and righteousness. Once you have killed something with the intention of eating it you have crossed your own threshold from bystander to hunter.

1 comment:

Dreaming said...

I commend you. The emotions and the hard work could not have been easy. But, I can see where the sense of accomplishment would be great. As I drove my dad home after our repast last night I heard this delightful Thanksgiving story - it runs a bit along the lines of your story:

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