In preparation of our Thanksgiving dinner, we went unconventional and roasted chicken. But, not any old chicken. No ma'am. We went local.
This last summer, I had the unique opportunity to attend a workshop meant to take those interested in having a hand through every process of a meal from kill to the dinner plate, essentially. As someone who'd never killed more than a fly (and never a fly for food!), I learned to slaughter and process my own chicken at RiverSong Farm in Taylorsville, Kentucky.
Knowing the farm and the people who raise the chickens as part of their livelihood, I contacted RiverSong again for Thanksgiving chickens after a message to friends on Facebook promised some very tasty poultry.
Fortunately, I didn't have to take the time to drive out to Taylorsville and meet a sweet bird at its end on RiverSong's kill tree. The deal was, I bought a live bird, and the RiverSong folks would kindly clean my bird for free.
I agreed to pick up the two birds I ordered at their regular Egg Drop location.
In my excitement over our untraditional Thanksgiving chickens, I bragged everywhere, to everyone, about our local chickens. Even my 4-year-old daughter climbed on my chicken tractor. She began talking up our "loco" chickens to
anyone who'd listen, still with no clue about what Thanksgiving actually was.
No matter. The chickens were the stars. And at a total of
$45.50 for the loving couple, they ought to be.
My daughter named them Bob and Bob, despite my insistence that we didn't know if they were hens or roosters. But, Bob and Bob they remained. As my mother busied herself with the making of her homemade apple pies, I began cleaning one of the Bobs in a large bowl in the kitchen sink. Bob #1 was beautiful, although its skin was scalded just a little too much--a characteristic a chicken dinner workshop grad like myself could identify. On to cleaning Bob #2, it appeared that the other farmer of RiverSong may have cleaned him. He was cut differently, the neck tucked elsewhere for stock, and yes, Bob #2 was surely a he. His testes were intact, and I had the [honor?] of ripping them out myself.
It's a good darn thing I'd done it before. Just 2 years ago I washed my first whole chicken from the supermarket and gagged, but here I was on Thanksgiving Day removing the testes of a rooster and showing them off like rare, enormous pearls to my parents. I've come a long way, to say the least, and removing Bob's rooster goods is proof positive; however, it's quite possible that my dad was out throwing up in my neighbor's bushes. Perhaps I should have been more sensitive.
Okay, I was proud of my locavore choice to order chickens for dinner just as they were running around a grassy field, eating bugs and clover as nature intended for them. That's what fueled my "loco" chicken worship, and subsequent sharing of the testes.
There's a simple wonder that simmers some complex emotions in eating food with a face--food that breathed freedom as equally as oxygen. It feels right. At least, it feels more right than buying a previoiusly-caged, salmonella-laced supermarket bird. I've never been quite so thankful for the animals I eat as I have since I went "loco." I've also never been quite so thankful for the food I've eaten on Thanksgiving, for food that lived a happy life. It simply makes me happy, as food should.
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Photo: Rachel Hurd Anger