So today I butchered the fat roaster that had gotten left behind by the chicken catchers last week.  I was in the middle of Monday morning sorts of things when Certain Man came in and said, “I am going to just wring the neck of that old roaster that got left behind.  I need to set up chicken houses, and I want him out of there.” 

 

 “Please don’t do that,” says I.  “I will put water on right now and come out there and get him.”  Certain Man looked dubious, but I grabbed my biggest kettle, and filled it to the brim and put it on the burner.  I finished straightening my kitchen while it started to cook. 

 

When it came to a boil, I said to Blind Linda, “I am going outside to catch a chicken.  I will be in really soon.” Blind Linda didn’t say anything.  I sharpened my biggest butcher knife and headed out to the chicken house.  When I got out there, Certain Man was in the Manure Shed working on his tractor. 

 

 “Did you catch that Chicken?”  I ask him brightly. 

 

“Oh, no.  I forgot all about it.”  He stopped whatever it was that he was doing and came through the mud to where I was standing. 

 

 “Which house is it in?” I ask him. 

 

“It’s in house two, I think,” he says, “Unless the fox got it.  Could’ve gotten it.  I didn’t see it this morning, I don’t think.”  We enter the darkness of the empty chicken house and Certain Man flips on the lights.  There was the object of my intentions, fluttering about down near the end of the house.  Certain Man turns off the lights, and we edge our way down towards our hapless victim.  I wasn’t much help at this juncture, I tell you, because I do not go running about in chicken litter chasing an 8-lb ball of feathers that has those spurry things on the sides of its legs.  I will “herd” but I usually do not chase.  Certain Man had some ideas up his sleeves, and he shortly had the roaster in a big bucket with the lid on. 

 

“Are there any others?” I question hopefully. 

 

“I don’t know,” he said.  “I’ll go look.”  At this point, our Australian Cattle dog, Shepherd, who has proven trustworthy enough to run about the place comes eagerly up, hoping to partake of a chicken dinner.  I remember that he is not easily controlled when he sees a flopping chicken.  So I carried the bucket with the chicken in it up to the dog pen.  Shepherd follows, panting happily.  Whenever I go to his pen with a sort of container, it usually means that he is getting fed.  He ran quickly to his dog pen and got inside.  Oh, disappointment.  The gate got locked and there was no chicken for the doggy.  He looked reproachfully at me as I walked away.

 

By this time, Certain Man was back with the news that there were no other chickens.  So he helped me rig up the baler twine to hold the roaster in an upside down position, and we got him properly restrained. 

 

Then I asked Certain Man if he would take the bucket into the house and bring out the boiling water that was on the stove.  The execution of the chicken is always my department because Certain Man cannot bear to take a butcher knife and cut their throats.  I don’t particularly like it, but I realized a long time ago that if we were ever going to eat chicken from our own flock, I was going to have to do it.  So he went after the water, while I removed the head from the body of the unfortunate chicken. 

 

 When he got back, the atrocity was over, and I plunked the body up and down and up and down in the boiling water until the feathers were loose, then I hung it up and plucked the feathers off with the help of Certain Man and a pair of latex gloves that he had procured for me from the house. 

 

When the Roaster was sufficiently naked, I cut off the feet and brought him into the house where I could scrape off the pin feathers and butcher him.  He was a fat old bugger, and I had some trouble getting him properly ready for my pan.  But tonight he sits in a tub of salt water, and tomorrow I will put him in the freezer until Saturday night, then we will take him out, and I will stuff him with some stove top dressing and plunk him into the oven before we go to church and we shall have him for lunch, if the Lord so wills. 

 

This gray day has held many good things. . . That old roaster is butchered, I made the party mix that usually is a “before Christmas” thing.  I baked bread and I am planning to still sort the laundry for tomorrow.  Certain Man and Eldest Son are on their way home from the airport, and I have already gotten a run-down on his happy weekend, so once Certain Man gets here, we should all be able to get some sleep.  If the Lord tarries, and the plan carries, we will work on the Yoder Calendar for this present year.  The Yutzy side of the family has been long done. 

 

Oh, well.  Some things are out of my control.  Which is a good thing, really! Blessings for a wonderful new year.

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  1. The Only time we butchered a chicken was when we saw one fall off a chicken truck in front of us onto the road.  DH was quite gleeful as I recall … I was disbelieving as I was sure the two of us knew next to nothing about the process.  It got done … and we enjoyed the fruit of our labors.  Happy New Year blessings to you, too, my friend.

  2. The only time I had to SEE a chicken being butchered was at Leonard and Bea Stutzman’s house as I was good friends with their daughter, Paula.  I think it scarred me for life!!    I don’t know how you make yourself do that!!!  On a happier note, I enjoyed reading your story.  Blessings today!!  Love you!

  3. Mary I just don’t see how you do it!!!! I’m on Uncle Daniels side on this one. I would be a vegatarian before I would butcher a chicken.

  4. Thankfully chickens are tasty and many people out there agree that they are… and if it were for that.. many of us would be out of a job.  Lord Bless you and that ‘certain man’  –and Thanks 🙂

  5. Ahh that wonderful goot story took me back.  I’ve butchered many a chicken in my time altho’ there have usually been manly men around to do the actual murdering part!  errr….not that Certain Man is not the manliest of men!  When you have a chicken house you just get hardened to doing what as to be done.  I remember at first I thought I just COULDN’T kill those culls on a daily basis.  But I learned and I did.  I don’t miss taking care of chickens one little teensy tiny speck!!  I do still like to eat ’em though!  =)

  6. I remember as a small girl my dad chopping the chicken heads off and those headless birds would go flopping.jumping all around the yard squalking their silly heads… ummm… [already] off. It never ceased to totally amaze me. I don’t get sick butchering, but I get irritated because I can’t grab onto the guts and hang on to get ’em out of thar… Now if I had a glove like I see up north that you can hang on to a fish when you filet it, then I think it wouldn’t be too bad, but I ain’t asking for no job cuttin’ up chickens.  But I’m like my grandpa.. I can eat chicken every day and twice on Sunday.

  7. The only time we killed a rooster after our marriage was quite a story. The Man was chasing after it with a shepherds hook thing that he had fashioned, and I stood at  the back door, counting the laps he took around the house! The rooster had great stamina!! After the kill, I put it in the crockpot all day, and it was still tough. My daughters cried and refused to eat it, even after considering that this was the one that had attacked them on different occasions!

  8. You articulate so well.  I picture that roaster catching process, feel the emotion of your losing your dad, and relate to the normal activity of a household.  With your acuity, I am certain you will be feeling the sun’s warm rays. God bless you!

  9. If any chickens get butched from our house it is definately Oscar who does it.  I’m not sure I could handle it.  Well, maybe if I was hungry enough I could.

  10. ack!  i don’t think i could do it.  i would vomit.  mom has told us she can still smell the scent of those feathers after the dipping when she helped my great mommom butcher.  bleh.  you would’ve made a good pioneer. 

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