Serge, James and Patrick brought the saw horses, the counter top and the plucker up to the concrete area by the back door. Jason hooked up the hose and organized the children in rooster round up. I don't know exactly how many kids were on rooster round up, but by the end of the afternoon we were minus 28 (birds, not kids) on the farm and that is a very good thing. Patrick and James did the dispatching. Serge, Jason and I scalded, plucked and eviscerated. Maggie and Rachel cooked snacks and venison stew for supper (thanks to venison from the Nunnallys.) Rose (sick with a cold) kept the fires going. Thomas split firewood and gathered up trash.
I believe I read somewhere that the temperatures were supposed to read high forties in our valley, but they didn't make it above the thirties.
Nevermind, we decided that even with frozen toes, it is better to process poultry in cold weather compared to burning sun, humidity and flies.
Farm work requires teamwork and all that teamwork does amazing things for friendships.
You have to keep your sense of humor when you make a wrong move and everyone sees murky yellow pasty fluids splatter all over your face.
"Ew. It's in your hair," grimaced one of the guys.
Jokes are shared, stories are shared.
Butchering chickens is not one of my favorite farm chores. I most certainly do not want to raise chickens as the cornerstone of our farm enterprise. Even so, butchering chickens with our friends is a pretty amazing part of our community life. Even with the temperamental whizbang plucker, the variable weather and the blood and guts.
There is something pretty magical about seeing the seven and nine year olds racing around with the thirteen and almost fifteen year old, doing something that is so vital to our family life. All working together to harvest food that will provide months of soups and curries for our family and our friends. They know that the future pot of soup required constant care and watch as they brooded the chicks we got from the post office and from our own chickens offsprings and from other friend's handmedowns. Those chicks that started out as teeny little fluff balls grew and required food and grass and space to run around. These guys had acres to explore!
Today's work was just the final punctuation of a long haul in animal care. Well, I guess the day each bird gets transformed into a delicious meal will actually be the final punctuation. The feathers and offal will be transformed into fertile soil. The blood that was shed will feed the cherry tree. The gizzards and other organs will be enjoyed occasionally by our dogs and cats.
As we lit the Advent candles at supper and Thomas read the scripture from Mark, I was thankful. Perhaps this afternoon was a perfect illustration of Emmanuel. God with us. With us in the lowly tasks, in the form of dear friends who love us.