Chickens

We had quite a day the other day  We were slaughtering the first half of the meat birds for this year.  We used to do all 50 or so at once, but since Clothilde was born we limit ourselves to the realistic 20 or less.  We did 21, and tried to arrange for babysitting by offering to trade my mom three chickens if she would watch the baby the whole time.  She had company coming on Saturday, so she was very emphatic that she could only watch Clothilde until 2 pm.  Okay, fine we thought.

Ethan went out alone super early and started heating the water to minimize the time my mom had to watch the baby.  When it was nearly hot, he called and we started on our way.  When we drove up, he was fiddling with the electrical outlet by the well.  It wasn’t working, so we wouldn’t be able to plug in our plucker.  I set things up while he finished fixing that, and all three children commenced to play in Mirin’s pit and became very sandy.

Once the outlet was working and the plucker was plugged in successfully, we realized the well was off and there was no water.  I was trying to scrub out the chill tank and other tubs while Clothilde was simultaneously trying to climb into them, and my mother was “watching” her.  In the midst of this, Mirin began demanding a bucket to use for his pit.  He really wanted to use the ones I was washing for the chickens, but I directed him to some other buckets that had been sitting unused by the truck.  He grabbed one and started dragging it to the pit, stopped halfway and started screaming.  There was a mud dauber wasp nest in the bucket, and one had flown up his pant leg and was stinging him. He was fumbling with the button to take them off.  He finally got them off before I got there, and had only been stung once, pretty badly.  Unfortunately that day I didn’t have my usual basket of stuff, so I had no Echinacea tincture to put on it.  We didn’t even have water to wash it in, but I remembered we had ice for chilling the chickens.  That cheered everyone up, and Mirin even forgot to accuse me that it was all my fault for his pants being hard to take off after that.

Finally the water was on again, I finished scrubbing out the tubs and tank and ominous black clouds began to gather.  It hasn’t rained for weeks, but boy it sure did rain on Friday.  I don’t mind rain, but I am terrified of lightening.  We do live in the lightening capital here.  There’s lots of it.  We ran up and got the chickens into a transport cage balanced on the wheel barrow, and wheeled them back.  The rain began coming down pretty hard then, and all the sand-caked children and my mom retreated to her car.  There wasn’t any lightening, so I just put on my wonderful Chinese cooly hat  (I love it!!!) and felt fairly comfortable.  Even if the rest of you is soaking wet, having your head and face dry makes all the difference.

I think a lot of people who process their own chickens have a nice, snug sheltered spot where they can snub their noses at the elements, but we don’t.  All we have is a folding table, a spigot, and a cast-iron bath tub.  Not very high-tech.  I suppose it stays cleaner that way, with all the rain and sun.  There weren’t any flies to be seen on Friday!  They were all smart enough to find shelter.  We are also lucky that it was so warm, even being soaking wet was not unpleasant.  It was refreshing.

After about 5 minutes my mom started honking the horn.  I ran over and cracked the door just open to avoid the streaming rain pouring into the car.  She was fed up.  She said it was hellish and miserable, and she was taking the kids home.  I tried to get her to leave them, but she said it was fine and she would drive them out again later.  Then she left.  Ten minutes after that, the storm was gone.  It was beautiful, overcast and in the mid-seventies, which is idyllic weather here in August.  We finished the chickens around 2pm and Ethan called her.  He said she sounded like she didn’t want to bring the kids out again, so we started on our chores.  We got home around 5:30, and my mom was furious.  She had been watching the children for 3 1/2 hours too long and she said they were horrid.  She said she had to bribe them into good behavior with gum, and she thought we were leaving when we called around 2 to say we were done with the chickens.  Oh well.  So we’ll probably have to keep Clothilde with us for the next half!

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