Phew. Phew. Pheeeeeew. We have successfully accomplished three major tasks on our giant season-long “to do” list, and I can now let out three giant whopping sighs of relief. In the past two weeks we slaughtered, processed, and sold 90 chickens for the first time, we had our first CSA box pick up, and have finally moved our cabin into its final resting place. Each of these events provided yours truly with plenty of anxiety, and each one warrants a little attention.
Let’s start with the chickens. We had been raising these chickens from day one knowing we would be slaughtering them ourselves. The idea of slaughtering and processing chickens was not causing me anxiety; in fact I was looking forward to taking part in this ritual so I could better understand what it is I was actually putting into my mouth and body on a regular basis. The logistics of processing 90 chickens in two days, with (on average) three people working, was what worried me. We had to lug in a giant container of potable water since we haven’t had the farm well tested. We had to rent equipment (kill cones, a giant scalder, and a cool contraption that pulls the feathers out). We had to set everything up so we made sure to capture all of the offal for the compost pile, and keep everything sanitary throughout the process. I am happy to report that other than a few hiccups (like over-scalding a few chickens, and Andrew starting a fire), things went really well.
I have to admit that I did not actually kill any chickens. I was going to try, but between the fear I might not do it right the first time, and that I might cut myself in the process, I left it to Andrew. Instead I spent the days slicing into them and scooping out their insides. I am actually quite skilled at this now, and take pride in doing it well. Just like most difficult things in life, once I got good at it I rather started to enjoy it! There is something innately satisfying in preparing nutritious food, and while I get that healthy vibe all day with the veggies, I feel more connected to the great circle of life when I am dealing with a creature I raised for its meat.
Our second great accomplishment was having our first CSA pick up day. If you’re not familiar with a CSA, read my previous post for the run down. Each week our members get a full box of produce, and I think this first week went off quite well! We have been extremely lucky this spring with warm, sunny weather and our vegetables and strawberries are going gangbusters. The boxes were stuffed with gorgeous, bright, colorful vegetables including butterhead lettuce, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries and much more. Throughout the day on Friday our members arrived, many with small children. We chatted, they visited our pigs and goats, and I felt a wonderful connection to this community, despite having only been here for four months.
Last but certainly not least, we moved our “tiny” house into its permanent location (assuming it doesn’t roll away!). Of course when I say “we” I mean Andrew and Eric moved the house. Four different pieces of heavy machinery were put to work pulling, pushing, angling, adjusting, nudging, and heaving before everything was just right. I didn’t think I would have anxiety about the house moving, but when they actually started to move it my stomach jumped into my throat. There were a few moans and groans from the house and I could just visualize it tumbling down and smashing into pieces, taking Zephyr out for good measure (does that make me a pessimist?). Fortunately Andrew and Eric are extremely capable and creative, and everything went swimmingly, even if it did take three hours!
I’d like to report that now we can relax a little and enjoy the fruits of our labor, but you know better than that. We’re farmers! We have to make sure we have delicious boxes ready every week until November 1st. We still have to finish working on the house so we can actually live in it, although I feel confident things will start moving along rapidly now that we can see how amazing our views will be. In the meantime you will find me huffing along with my fingers in the dirt, pausing now and again to squint up at the sky and wonder when the rain will come so I don’t have to drag sprinkler hoses around the whole farm. Can you believe this Cali girl just said that? Washington has certainly gotten itself underneath my fingernails, and I like that just fine.