Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chicken Chokin'

Portland is crazy right now about raising poultry and I have three hens myself, so how did I end up driving across town on a bright, windy morning to a chicken choking? (I use the phrase literally so you can take your dirty minds to another blog right now.) Last Tuesday I taught Seth and Matlida how to kill chickens. As kid on a NC egg farm this was a regular occurrence. I was surprised back then and remain surprised at how calm and passive the animals become as you prepare them. They run like hell to avoid being caught but settle way down into themselves once you take hold of them, even as you grip the feet, tighten your hand round the neck, and give a sharp twist. Seth and Matilda (who is 13) went about the killing with a gentleness that came from both respect and inexperience. The roosters may have been strangled more slowly than is kind but they barely resisted. Without much struggle by man or beast, their eyes closed, their wings flapped in an empty imitation of flight, then they were still. Off came their heads, up went bodies for bleeding, and we set about plucking. Their skin was warm under our pinching fingers and loose feathers caught the light and mingled with the pollen blowing in the air.