Monday, 9 March 2009

Taking stock

When you suddenly find yourself on your own, you quickly realise how many activities there are that require at least three hands to carry out easily. Not so much two people. Just that extra hand that holds, lifts up or supports something or other. It is not absolutely essential, but it doesn't half make the job easier.

For me, one such job is dispatching a chicken for the pot. If you are a carnivore and subscribe to the Tom & Barbara thing, then at some point you will have to kill a chicken.
There is nothing pleasant about this, but I always feel much better about it if the bird has gone within 30 or 40 seconds of being picked up from the coop. And for this I need another hand - to open the lid of the coop, to open the gate and to wield the all-important broomstick. I could do this on my own, but it is a much swifter, calmer and thus humane process if there is another person there to help.

So I am fortunate in having a number of friends who also raise chickens for the freezer. When one of us has some birds ready to off, the travelling circus meets up at their house to do the deed together, fortified by lots of cake and homemade soup. Once the initial squeamishness about what you are doing wears off, it is an oddly collegial activity in an Amish barn-raising sort of way.

And when the birds have all been plucked, dressed and packaged for the freezer, what remains are several carcases and a large pile of giblets. Combine these rather unprepossessing objects with a bunch of root vegetables and aromatic herbs and the result is tubs and tubs of fragrant and golden chicken stock.

I feel there will be a risotto in my not-too-distant future.


  1. Despite the whole killing-an-animal thing (BROOMSTICK?? Excuse me...), this story is warmer and fuzzier than my version: I knew I was really alone when I had to take a splinter out of my own foot.

    (it really does sound collegial, and i love soup and roots).

  2. Help with splinters? No way! I am a fully independent woman in that respect.
    Not sure when my first realisation came. Could have been the time the dog nearly tripped me up going downstairs and I pictured myself lying there with a broken neck undiscovered for weeks. Then again it could have been the Incident of the Nearly Flat Tyre. That produced a meltdown of epic proportions.

    (BTW, the broomstick is for leverage, not for use as a blunt instrument!).