Sunday, July 3, 2011

Call Out Our Pluck

2 AM Saturday
"So," Renee asked, "did you ever dream we would be doing this?"
"If I'd have known," Laura groaned, "I'd have gone to bed earlier."

Laura and I were standing elbow to elbow pulling pinfeathers from two little roosters we had just harvested.  You see, a raccoon inspired us to butcher these little beauties.  At about 1:30 a.m. we were all awakened by a ruckus in the yard where the chickens are penned.  Horrendous scream after horrendous blood-curdling scream exploded from the pen of the little cockerels.  The screams only briefly blotted out the flop and drumming of dozens of wings as they were fighting off the intruder.

Peter, Richard and I grabbed flashlights and ran out to find a raccoon scrambling about in the pen.  In the beams of our lights he was groping to find his exit point while we were circling the pen to find his entry point.  The areas we had feared vulnerable were still soundly fortified.  The pen still looked impenetrable but the presence of the coon was chilling testimony to our error.   We three circled and circled the pen, as the raccoon ran to the concealed roofed area of the chickens' roosts.  The poor little terrified and battle-weary cockerels cowered in the farthest corner from the raccoon.  I ran to enlist John and Emory, Peter ran to get the air rifle, and Richard continued searching the pen for the breach.

While circling the pen, Richard tried to keep an eye on the vermin, but with only one flashlight beam to illuminate the area the raccoon was able to slip out. Since Richard was near the cowering cockerels when he noted the raccoon's absence he deduced the breach in cage integrity was on the opposite side in the roofed chicken roost area.  Relaxed that the critter was gone, Peter and Richard opened the gate to the roost area.  Aha, the hole the raccoon had created - it had pushed the fencing away from where the roofing extended down.  Some clips and nails had given way letting a slit open in the construction. Emory held a flashlight while Peter wove taunt wire into the fencing to repair the slit.

As they worked Richard tallied the damage. The count yielded five casualties - one dead and four wounded. Two of the wounded needed recovery time and further assessment later at a more civil hour.  The other two were in critical condition needing immediate harvest.

In the time it took to boil water, Richard sorted out how to butcher the chickens.  He had to reach back in his vintage memories to a time when he was a young boy at his maternal grandmother's side.  For me, I discovered I had no memory of how to process a chicken.  By the time I was old enough to learn chicken butchering my grandparents were all dead, and my parents had discovered a butchery that would process home-grown chickens.  So much for being a farm girl!

Richard slaughtered, dipped in hot water and plucked the birds.  He brought the carcasses in for Laura and me to finish cleaning.  Since he plucked them by the light of a single yellow bug light on the porch many feathers were left behind.  Laura and I had our work laid out for us.  We mustered our pluck (courage) and plunged in.  A half hour later we came up for air. Together we survived our learning and grew in female bonding over the sacrificed cockerels. By 4 a.m. we all went to bed.

We relied on memories to build memories beyond our dreams.

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