Chicken Soup for the Bowl

We had chicken soup this week. That’s not unusual except that this chicken had a name.  One of my goals from last year was to raise meat birds but I didn’t get to it.  It is still on my list for this year.   “Haven’t you people ever heard of a grocery store?” one of our boys’ school teachers once asked me.  Yes, and that’s why I want to raise my own food.

If you’ve ever had the satisfaction of growing a tomato or even a sprinkling of fresh herbs you get it.  Fresher = better.  During the recent snow forecast frenzy, I commented to a grocery clerk that they were out of eggs.  “We can’t get restocked” she told me.  “I have 10 dozen in my car,” I responded.  The guy bagging looked up suddenly and asked “Are they brown eggs?  Local?  Can I buy some?”  Of course!  The grocery store guy wants farm eggs.  Delicious irony.

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Standard fare

So we are used to spoiled with fresh eggs.  Our laying hens are dear to us.  And that’s why the rooster had to go.  This new cockerel (raised on the farm by Lily) was big, beautiful but way too rough on the hens.  A few of the young girls were losing back feathers and showing bare skin from overmating.  This guy just didn’t know when to quit.  To be responsible to our hens the roo had to go.  (Our reigning patriarch roosters  Taco & Patton are still in charge.)

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Patton – a nice boy

I saw this as an opportunity to test the waters on my meat bird goal.  No sense wasting a 100% free ranged bird.  Paul handled the dispatch quickly and I took it from there.  Because the need arose so quickly I didn’t have fancy equipment.  It was all done by hand (plucking, eviscerating, etc.)  Paul checked in once to see how things were going.  “I found the button that makes it poop!” I replied.  But actually things went smoothly, albeit slowly.  Labor cost on this meat was sky high.  I was drawing on kitchen experience and some faint YouTube memories.  But I got it done.

I was unsure of how the family would react to the idea of eating a familiar bird.  (I do not serve things to people subversively).  They were game.  I can’t tell you how careful I was with the prep.  I spent a full day fussing over the stock.  Several hours building a soup.  This was important to me to do right.  And boy was it right.  It may not look glamorous but a finer soup has not been eaten.  We took time before the meal to humbly, sincerely give thanks for the food before us.  This animal had lived a free, open life scratching, pecking, wandering as he pleased indoors, outdoors wherever.

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Homegrown chicken soup

This must be how meat was meant to be.  We are a family of carnivores.  We hunt.  We farm.  We eat.  And for those items we gratefully put on our table, I know how they lived.  And it is surprising how that changes food prep.  No throwing bits out, eschewing leftovers, or cutting corners.  When we produce something, we use it.  (I saved the feathers).  I value the food.  No longer a commodity but a prize.

So I am emboldened to take on my goal of meat birds this year.  I am encouraged that we can add another wholesome protein source to our farm.  And the boys have offered to help.  And I love seeing them value the animals and responsibility of eating.  Who knows, if it goes well perhaps it will become a thing.  In either case it will be good for both the bowl and the soul.  

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One thought on “Chicken Soup for the Bowl

  1. Pingback: Baby Blitz | buck naked farm

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