I’d never butchered a chicken. 6ish years of chicken butchering and hundreds of chickens processed since we started farming and I never actually fully butchered a single chicken.
Somehow I managed to always be at the end of the processing assembly line. I managed to be the one who rinsed the birds or bagged them up to be shrink wrapped or ran the drinks and snacks or made the lunches or managed the kids, but I never did the deed. I ‘knew’ how it was done. I’d observed Andy and others dozens of times to have a full and complete understanding of the entire chicken butchering process. But, the knives were always in someone else’s hands. Until today.
Today we invited a couple of friends to a chicken butchering ‘class.’ We actually invited whoever was interested in learning from a local farming Facebook group, but our friends just so happened to be the ones who came out. I’m glad it was them. We knew them. So, when Andy realized that I’d never actually killed a chicken and we decided that it was finally time to stop vicariously butchering chickens and I cried, I’m glad it was my friend who was there to hug me and not a complete stranger wondering what the big deal was.
It is a big deal. It’s a big deal to us, because I often find myself defending our choice to raise our food and especially to butcher our own animals. It’s a big deal to take an animal’s life even if the sole purpose of that animal was to feed our family. It’s our choice to eat meat and it’s our choice to raise it the best and most humane way possible and then to end its life in the most humane way possible.
I can justify it all day long, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. Satisfying? Yes, indeed. Not because I take satisfaction in butchering animals. Not at all. It’s not easy. However, I am deeply satisfied knowing that the food I serve my family was raised by our own hands. I’m satisfied knowing that I can now process, for the table, any bird and that I am no longer the ‘expert’ with no hands on experience. I’m satisfied knowing that Andy can count on me to come alongside him on the next butchering day and from field to freezer I can manage to butcher chickens. I’m satisfied knowing that I can be a little vulnerable and honest and completely confident in my chicken butchering confessions.
There are a few things that make my heart sing. Cardinals, gardens, old houses, handmade goods, Jesus, my family, honey bees… you know big and little things that just make me glad. So, when we moved to this little town (we’re not actually in the town but near enough) and we discovered a little community of artists and makers and shakers, it was awesome! It made life in the country feel a little more rich and full. It made me glad. Something else that made me glad was this mug that I was just given by our friends behind the scenes at Brasher Clay. It was made for me. At least that’s what I thought when I first spotted it at the market…
But, I left it on the table and took the kids to the bubble snow that was blowing after the Christmas parade, because real snow and Swainsboro, GA don’t have a lot in common. Still, I coveted that mug. Andy reminded me that we have a cupboard of mugs (including half a dozen from the Brasher collection but we didn’t have one like mine…
So, a few days later when I took some honey over to Jacquie she handed me a bag and in it was MY MUG!!! MY MUG!!! MY MUG that looks like a.bee skep and matches my beeswax. It’s just the little things in life that can make me do cart wheels sometimes. Handmade goods and thoughtful friends are definitely some of them. XO.
Every winter Andy takes inventory of our unoccupied beehive boxes and frames and repairs, cleans and assembles them to prepare for the Spring honey flow.
Some frames need to have propolis scraped off or wax moths parts removed (we don’t fumigate and they don’t survive in empty boxes) or boxes just need a good dusting. I love seeing how our beehive collection has grown over the years and remembering the ones that were painted with ‘oops’ paint or that are so chippy they’d make the latest shabby chic trend setters proud.
I love thinking about the honeybees that will occupy these beehives and hoping that they’ll survive for years to come. The hives all change year after year. Some strong hives have half a dozen shallow or deep boxes on them. Some weak hives just a couple. It’s always a puzzle and an interesting one to configure and observe.
Andy’s been keeping bees for 8 or 9 years now and it’s something we are both proud of and love to reap the benefits from. Just tonight, Pinecone asked why we have so much honey and simply understood that it’s because we are beekeepers. We are beekeepers.
I did a little marketing. The tiniest bit. I mean the bare minimum amount of marketing that one can possibly do. I shared some photos and a few lines about our honey on social media.
It was so simple. I shared some photos of our honey stash and our bee yards and then I bottled, labeled and delivered the goods. It was brief. It was simple. It was intentional and it felt so right!!!
I’ll get this blogging thing down someday. Maybe. Or maybe not. It’s December already and we went to a local tree farm to pick out a sweet tree for the second year now.
Our first few years of marriage were spent with some major Charlie Brown branches that we scavenged for around the farm properties that we rented. A cedar branch was literally our tree one year. Then a small pine then another pine variety. Bugs and all.
Last year we picked a Leyland Cypress and this year was a beautiful a deliciously scented Arizona cypress. The kids love this season. They might be a little more sentimental than I am or perhaps they just love the family traditions that we’re establishing as much as I do.