By Janel Twin Oaks
In just a matter of weeks, Twin Oaks’ 150 laying hens have become frozen fodder for future community meals.
Luckily, we had former Oakers Jim and Shana to turn to. Jim and Shana dabbled in raising poultry for profit and built an impressive slaughtering station in their back yard--which happens to be two miles from the community. In exchange for LEX hours (labor IOU’s traded between communities) and a few chickens, Jim and Shana agreed to help us turn the entire flock into tomorrow’s main course, 50 birds at a time. Thus, every Monday in October became a meat processing field trip.
Halloween day marked our final slaughter with Jim and Shana. The air was warm and crisp as June, Valerie, Kele and I took off down the road, five pens of chickens in tow. Once at Jim and Shana’s, I stood next to the crowded cages of birds awaiting their fate and surveyed the scene: the upside down traffic cones in which the birds would “bleed out,” the de-feathering machine, the stainless-steel evisceration table. Trying to calm myself in the face of the lurking question, “Is this the right thing to do?,” I put my hand on a pen and whispered a thank you to the birds whose bodies would feed me throughout the winter. Then, I moved to my position at the evisceration table.
A couple hours later, 50 carcasses were cooling in vats of ice water, and Kele, Valerie, Shana and I were peeling the tough inner tissues from gizzards to prepare them for consumption. Our rambling conversation turned to the subject of birth and as I listened to the others swap stories of the human births they’d experienced, I was struck by the irony of discussing new life on a day of death. Yet the subject was comforting. It reminded me that spring will bring with it a rebirth of the Twin Oaks poultry program--and that I’m a part of that rebirth. I took a deep, healing breath, and I allowed myself to smile.Share on Twitter Share on Facebook