To Kill a Chicken

chickenI am a member of one of the best online gardening sites — Dave’s Garden. I am a contributing writer and another writer that consistently provides inspiration is Sharon Brown. She recently had an article published entitled Goldenseal and the Boxed Pie Supper. Though the article was primarily about the medicinal and practical uses of Goldenseal, I was more infatuated with the background story.

The first half of the article discusses a now forgotten tradition of creating boxed dinners in the effort to raise funds for her local school. As she described the event, I was right there in her small town and could smell the food and picture the box Sharon had beautifully decorated. There was one sentence that particularly stood out as I read: My mother and Granny Ninna always fried chicken, usually two old hens, and they added green beans and cornbread, a lot of other vegetables, and most of the time Ninna made a stack cake for dessert.

I could not help but notice the casual nature of this sentence. Her mother and one of her granny’s found two old hens and prepared them as part of the complete meal to be auctioned off. There was no trip to the supermarket for a conveniently prepared whole chicken or pieces already cut up tightly sealed with plastic wrap. No, they went outside, found two hens and did what was necessary to prepare them for dinner. This of course included killing and plucking them. I am sure her mother, all of her relatives and most likely everyone in her community raised animals for the purpose of food and preparing them for eating was simply part of the routine. If I were to go into detail of the steps involved, I am sure I would receive a lot of hateful comments from those who think killing anything for food is cruel. Conversely, I might also receive comments of praise for reminding people that the beautifully, tempting packages of food began as a life somewhere.

The overall theme of today’s modern society seems to revolve around how to do things quickly and with as little effort as possible. Why? Do I need to have a box on my counter prepare a meal for me in less than five minutes? I would rather it didn’t. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with preparing a meal from scratch and that is why this article spoke to me to the point where I felt I had to write about it. I imagined the life Sharon enjoyed as a child and the life of her mother and her grandparents. The practical nature of growing and raising your own food for not only your own survival but as a way of helping the community has been lost today for the most part. I would like to thank Sharon for taking me back to a time when life was not about convenience but about living the best you could with what you had.

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5 thoughts on “To Kill a Chicken

  1. Sharon Brown

    Ben, thank you. I am honored that my words became an inspiration to you. Words are powerful things, and you use them well. ‘Making do’ was pretty potent learning as well. and I grew up at a time when survival skills were simply a way of life. I like to believe I was very fortunate. Again, thank you.

  2. Moon Over Martinborough

    You’re absolutely right that we’re losing this skill. I know I have.

    I’m an expat American city boy who recently moved to rural New Zealand. My partner and I have never been so connected to our food source. We’ve got sheep in the freezer from our neighbors, and chickens out by the hay shed that give us our eggs. Recently my partner and I had our first chicken killing lesson. It wasn’t pretty, but as somebody who’s eaten chicken all my life, I figured I should learn!

    I wrote about my experience here: Your chicken killers are here

  3. Benny Post author

    To Sharon:

    Thank you my friend. I plan on sharing more reactions to the beautiful stories you have written. You truly are an inspiration. :)

    To Jared:

    First, thank you for visiting my site. Welcome! I read the entire Your chicken killers are here post. Very well written! I am proud to add you to my Blogroll.

    For those reading this article, I strongly enourage you to read Jared’s article. It describes perfectly the concept of what it means to kill your own food when you are used to simply buying it off the shelf.

  4. Jo

    I have just read Jared’s post. It was extremely well written and very funny. Will definitely be back for more!

    I have been watching “River Cottage Garden” on TV over the last couple of months and love Hugh Fernly-Whittingstall’s way of life. He has been going through the seasons with his homegrown produce and shows some great, easy recipes that anyone can do (especially love his nettle beer/champagne!). I grow my own veges and if I had more land, would grow everything so I never had to shop for fruit and vege again. I buy my eggs from a lady at work who has her own chickens. Again, if I had the space, I would have chickens as well (and maybe a couple of goats).

    The idea of growing your own food it becoming increasingly popular over here in Australia, as food prices soar. Since 2000, groceries prices in Oz have risen 41% – the highest in the western world. A lot of schools have gardens now so the kids can see exactly where food comes from. This is a fantastic idea which all schools should adopt.

    Bring on The Good Life!

  5. Benny Post author

    Hello my friend!

    The Moon Over Martinborough blog is part of my required daily living. You should read the entry about the starling caught in the fireplace. COMPELLING!

    Here is the link: http://moonovermartinborough.com/2009/11/07/saturday-morning-fire/#comments

    Thank you for mentioning River Cottage Garden. I went over to YouTube and saw a snippet of Garden of Eden. I was captivated from the beginning. I am going to watch full episodes now. Thank you Jo.

    For those that want to get a feel for what this amazing show is about here is a trailer:

    I too love growing my own food and there is absolutely no comparison when it comes to taste, freshness and quality between what I grow and the “farm fresh produce” you can purchase at the super marker. I am encouraged by more and more grass roots initiatives to get back to the simpler way of doing things. For many, it becomes a matter of necessity. Once my garden blog is up and running, I will talk more about this and a new project I am about to begin which will help involve more kids with gardening.

    My glass is raised and yes, Jo, bring on the good life! Thank you for your comment and making me aware of the River Cottage Garden!

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