Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Killing Time

When we moved to Abingdon, it was a step toward "the country." Abingdon itself is pretty rural compared to our upbringing in the suburbs of Dallas and then subsequent life in the suburbs of Austin. (Heck, Bristol was rural compared to those places!) We're on a whopping three-quarter acres of hillside, but we're hoping to make the best of it. We've planted a garden with several lettuce types, carrots (not doing so well in this rocky soil), peas, corn, potatoes and pumpkin. We're running late, but still hope to get some green beans and squash in around the corn in the "three sisters" method. We also have blueberry and cherry bushes, and two cherry trees. We won't get blueberries until year three, but we're hoping for cherries this year.

I never had "farm" animals growing up; only a plethora of furry house-pets: cats, a dog or two, and a rabbit once. But since we moved here, I've wanted to get some animals, starting with something small like chickens, then moving "up" to goats, pigs, and cows, etc. Even though my boss is famous in our circles for being the World's Worst Chicken Farmer, several other folks in our community have made a pretty good go of it. One friend, in fact, has begun selling us his farm-fresh free-ish-range eggs. They're delicious!

I mentioned in my last post that we have been reading Herrick Kimball's excellent book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. We've really been enjoying Mr. Kimball's delightful delivery of his exploits into a simple, separate and deliberate life of agrarianism. Though reading, you're first response might be, "It can't always be all that he cracks it up to be," you still come away with a sense that, "Yeah, in most ways, I think he's on to something." Until...

Chapter 17 has the ominous title, "Pulling Chicken Heads Off." Mr. Kimball, assuming you didn't read the chapter title very well, graciously includes a warning here:

WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions that may appall and offend some non-agrarian readers.
After reading "graphic descriptions" of Killing, Scalding, Plucking, Head Removing and Gutting, I realized even more clearly how non-agrarian (read: "squeamish, sissified suburban boy") I am. But, still, this is the direction I believe God would have us move, so I'm willing to take on graphic descriptions and take them captive to the obedience of Christ.

Now, though, we're really going to get the opportunity to get our hands dirty... literally!

I spoke with our egg supplier yesterday and he was lamenting the fact that heat had claimed 10 of his birds, and that we wasn't able to take off work to "process" them. "Need some help?" I offered. "Oh, man... we were just talking last night about how we were going to need some help processing them and were wondering who we could ask. That would be great!"

So, this Saturday, the Howards are going to his house to help process their chickens. It'll be a great day of taking dominion over the earth—and getting disgustingly messy. What more could a boy ask for? :)

Stay tuned... I expect to have my own "Pulling Chicken Heads Off" chapter very soon!


HomesteadHerbs said...

Beware of the chicken running with his head cut off!! :-)

Found your blog from Herrick's blog. We're enjoying his book also.

We'll be waiting for an update to the chicken processing...and maybe you can promote Herrick's Whizbang Chicken Plucker machine while you're at it.

Jim Bob Howard said...

Dear Homestead Herbs,

I've heard of that... but I expect it will be my boys who are most likely to run around that way. ;) According to the order of things in Herrick's book (did I mention this will be my VERY first exposure to chicken processing?) you don't remove the heads until they're already dead... right? Guess I'll learn on Saturday.

I expect I will be wishing I'd build the Whizbang when the day is through. I'll mention it to my friend.

I made a quick view of your blog and look forward to reading more. I was happily surprised to see my wife and my employer both listed as Christian mentors! ;)

May the Lord bless your efforts to live a more simple, separate and deliberate life, for His glory and the building of His kingdom!

Jim Bob