Sunday, August 29, 2010

Little Roos

As I write this at 3:48am, Richard is outside processing the next batch of Little Roos. "Roos" is the name we fondly give to the Little Roosters.

He did 20 of the 66, 3 days ago. We kept them in a refrigerator. The Meat seems to relax, or soften a bit. That makes it more tender. Melanie did the last cleaning of the Roos yesterday morning. Fifteen of those 20 Roos are now in bags in the Freezer. I will can the rest. Those 20 Roos will feed our family for a long time.

I need to say up front that we process the Roos differently than is standard fare in our Culture. Most people delegate the processing to some big industrial processing plant out of sight and out of mind. If they have lived on Farms, a lot of Folks have their Gruesome Stories of what they call "butchering Chickens" and they are eager to tell. I don't even like to call it that. Once started, those Folks can go on and on about the details of their experience. Often, "humor" is implied as the Teller of the Tale will laugh and carry on. Maybe that is a likely consequence of an "advanced" Culture which has taught us to distance ourselves from Pain and Suffering in the world. That approach does not work for us on the Farm.

Here on the Farm, we are confronted by the Great Mystery in almost everything that we do, not the least of which is eating Meat. We recognize that for something to live, something must die. Richard says that if ever cannot do this, he will not eat Chicken.

Those Little Roos have been our Companions here on the Farm for about 20 weeks. When we opened their mailing box April 26th, we held them as wee little puffs of Down. We made sure they were well cared for from the "get go". After those 1st few days in their boxes in the garage, they have been free ranging, albeit within what originally seemed to be a generous pen. As the Roos have gotten larger, that Pen which has really not changed in size has gotten smaller.

We watched them grow into rambunctious Adolescents and now stately, almost Adults. We heard their 1st Crows. We even watched as Freddy, the Buff Orpington Rooster, would perch himself on a lawn chair outside their Pen, and go "crow for crow" with the "Littles".
As they have grown, we have watched them play their Rooster games. At this time, that's a lot of Testosterone for 1 pen. Some have become more dominant. One has especially gone a little farther beyond. All in 1 place, 66 Roosters are far too many for this Little Farm. These last 2 weeks, we have increasingly known the time was near.

We have taken special care to Thank them throughout, and especially before the processing has begun. I think they have known they will feed us, and they are good with that. Richard takes very special care as he "takes their lives". He wants to do it very mindfully. He is careful not to do too many that he becomes numb to what he is doing.

I am not sure how many he will do this morning. This is a very private time for him, because he has a very serious and mindful responsibility. He works quietly. He will open the Rooster House door and take the Roos 1 by 1.

He finds the very early morning time when they are sleeping quieter and best. It is least disruptive to all the Chickens (including of course the Roos) rather than doing it during the day when they are very active and alert.

The very early morning time is least disruptive to the Family too. But we all know what he is doing. He is taking their Lives to support our Lives. We sleep lightly at these times, if at all. This time, I choose to be up and clattering away at these keys.

Over the coming days, we will be confronted with the seriousnes of this part of the Farming Enterprise every time we open the Freezer Door and every time we have Chicken for a meal. Lessons of the Great Mystery abound. At the very most basic level, it's a celebration of Life itself. It's a Prayer of Gratitude for the Gift of Life to the Little Roos and the Creator who has provided for us all.

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