I matched with Andrew on Tinderand established first contact.
His photos included no fewer than two farm animals and a quote from The Magic School Bus’s Ms. Frizzle, which established it easy-going to swipe right. I initially messaged him about the goat in one of his photos, but those discussions promptly turned to his four egg-laying hens called after Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia from the Golden Girls . em>
“Dorothy turned out to be a dude so hes gonna have to get eaten. The vicinity doesnt take kindly to roosters. Were having a chicken dinner in March. Sorry Dorothy, ” Andrew wrote to me.
Its not that uncommon to get a astound rooster in your henhouse. Chickens are difficult to sex at birth, so sometimes experts even get mixed up, according to Forbes .
I didnt expect it then, talking about here Andrew on Tinder, but I would eventually be one of the people to be with Dorothy in the final moments of his life.
I should be mentioned that Andrew did not suggest the idea of watching him and his roommate, Colin, butcher Dorothyit was actually my notion. It was our fourth date , not our first, but still not your traditional early hangout. We had done the usual things first: go for a hike, get drinks, compile and examine microbes through some microscopes.
Initially, Colin was going to make a Tinder date of his own are some of processing Dorothy, at her suggest, and Andrew and I joked that we should make a date out of watching Colins date. But on the eve of Dorothys date with destiny, Colins date backed out.( In Colins terms, she “balked.”)
Andrew and I decided to go for the kill. I was sort of curious about the whole thing, and while Ive never killed a chicken, Im not exactly squeamish. In a previous life, when I worked in various research labs, I had to do some grisly things to swine in the name of science. And, as a flesh eater, I was curious to see what it means to prepare your own foodstart to finish.
( Slaughtering your own livestock in your backyard isnt exactly legal in Oakland, California, where Andrew and Colin live. Im not disclosing their last names to protect their identity .)
The big day
I came to Andrew’s house early on Sunday morning. It was sunny and warm enough to wear sandals, a decision I’d afterward repent. Andrew had on a chocolate-brown sweater and some grey-headed gasps. He was wearing tiny wire-frame reading glasses while he was doing his taxes. I had never seen him in glasses beforeI told him I thought they were cute in an old-timey kind of way.
I invited myself into the chicken coop with my camera to take some pictures of the chickens. After helping Colin set up for the main event, Andrew satisfied me in the coop. I was struggling to get some nice photos of Dorothy while also continuing Rose, Blanche, and Sophia from beak my bare toes. Andrew picked up Rose and showed me his favorite play to play with hergently pitching her in the various regions of the coop and letting her fluttering down to the ground. She came leading right back for another round. How cute, I supposed, like when I’ll rub my cat’s belly for video games I like to call “scratchy bitey.”
Andrew likewise grabbed Dorothy to help me take a few photos. But soon enough, Colin said he was ready to do the deed. We handed Dorothy off to him as we exited the coop. I stood uphill of Colin to be sure I wouldn’t get splattered with any blood.
Things quieted down we watched Colin ready Dorothy on his lap. He had suffer slaughtering chickens, but he had never slaughtered a rooster. He relied on YouTube to teach him what he needed to knowciting the visual steer as being more helpful than a written one. There he found the Chicken Lady, Alexia Allen.
( Warning, Allen’s tutorial video is graphic .)
Colin said he turned to Allens videos because of her increased emphasis on respecting the animal while maintaining some emotional distance.
Our nerdy flirting was cut short by Dorothy, who began to strive in Colin’s lap.
I reached out to Allen to talk to her about the ethics of elevating and eventually butchering livestock. Allen herself was once a vegan, but after a particularly grueling period in her old battleground biology job, she couldnt say no to some beef jerky. She said her body started craving flesh again, so she decided to find a way that she could nourish her body with meat in a way that she could morally abide.
“The answer is, for me, to do the processing. To know what that is, to do it intimately, and to do it as well as I can, ” Allen told the Daily Dot. “I butchered my first chicken in 2002, and it took me all day.”
Now its like second nature. Allen teaches grades on butchering chickens to her community in Washington state. She said that she is often made chickens to butcher and devour as well if their own families keeping them cant or wont butcher the animal themselves. Allen doesnt judge people who do that, since it benefits her, and many people take on chickens as pets rather than livestock. But, when taking on any domestic animal, she supposed, its important to consider what will happen at the end of their life.
“We dont get to decide if these swine die, just like we dont get to decide if we die or not. With the swine, as part of the domestication alliance, we just get to decide, if we choose to, how and when they die, ” Allen said.
For her, “the worlds largest” humane, intimate, and respected way to kill a chicken involves maintaining it in her lap and slitting its jugular, letting it bleed out, then smashing its neck. Doing this is no easy-going achievement, she supposed. You need to have sentence, a sharp-witted blade, and a steady hand. Most of those things come with experience.
Colin, despite his experience, still had some any problems with Dorothy. It took him a little time to find the jugular in the first place due to Dorothys extra waddlethe ruby-red combing and flesh that roosters have in abundance. While he searched for it, I decided to lighten the mood.
“Do you think dinosaurs tasted like chicken? ” I requested. We laughed about the idea, and amazed alouds if dinosaurs crowed and had waddles like roosters do. Then Andrew and I nerded out about dinosaursparticularly how you can detect their evolutionary history through the direction of their hip.
Our nerdy flirting was cut short by Dorothy, who began to strive in Colin’s lap.
Andrew moved in to hold onto the feet, and I continued to watch. Eventually, Colin met the blood vessel, and the whole thing was over nearly instantly. Colin brushed the dull back of the bayonet over Dorothys throat, to assistance get him used to the sensation, before turning it over and cutting his throat with one smooth stroke.
No one made a sound as Dorothys blood pitter-patter on the ground between Colins feet. With a little endeavour, Colin was able to click the neck.
Then he scalded the carcass in a flowerpot of very hot water, to loosen up the feathers. The two people went to work plucking feathers from the chicken and I predominantly watched. At this point I was feeling squeamish. I was more pondering about the germs I could be uncovering myself( and my bare feet) to. I wondered if my sorenes might stir me seem less refrigerate in Andrew’s eyes.
On eating( less) meat
Colin supposed, for him, the ethics of devouring flesh are very near and dear to his heart.
“I’ve been phasing out grocery store flesh for about seven years now. I used to say I would only devour flesh if it was free assortment and organic, but I don’t think those standards are good enough, ” he wrote to me in an email a few periods after processing Dorothy. “I’ll eat live animals if I trust it was raised and killed with care and compassion. Generally that signifies I’ll eat it if it’s from a farm I’ve heard of and that is known to have high standards.”
Andrew tends to avoid flesh for environmental reasons. He said he was a vegetarian for a good segment of his life. Ultimately he distanced himself from vegetarianism and veganism because he doesnt think that will help the world change its devouring habits.
“Life is complicated, and complicated environmental problems arent solved with simple regulations, ” he wrote to me in an email. Instead, he fees less flesh. He actually advocates devouring flaws like crickets and termites, as they take fewer calories to create and provide more calories as a food compared to typical fleshes like beef and chicken. He hasnt get me to try them yet.
As for me, well, Im not nearly so discerning. I devour meat in most of my snacks. I buy whatever chicken is cheapest in the store, though I go for antibiotic-free when I can. Antibiotics in livestock contribute massively to antibiotic-resistant flaws, and I try not to substantiate that. But the environmental effects of my flesh habit concerns me. I evade beef chiefly because I dont care for it, but likewise because meat is a huge contributor to climate change. Between the property, liquid, and methane emissions from the animalsparticularly beefnot to mention the rates of calories to raise the animal versus calories it creates, devouring flesh is not one of the nicest things you can do for Mother Earth.
After it was all said and done, Andrew asked me if I would ever choose to wielded the bayonet myself.
On the other hand, small-scale farming isnt inevitably the answer. Particularly when it comes to chicken. Most chickensbackyard or notare fed with grains that had to be developed somewhere, according to the New York Times . And those grains likely is engaged in climate change in their own way, mainly through soil erosion and the deforestation required to make the fields to grow those grains in. There are alternatives, like feeding chickens on table scraps and other, more sustainable foodstuffs, but theres only no such thing as a free meal.
That all supposed, its surely a lot easier to get more milage out of a single chicken if youre the one heighten, slaughter, and drawing up of the beast. From eggs for meat, to manure for fertilizer, to the flesh, bones, and feet of the birdtheres a lot you can do with chicken. And, when its your own, it arrives in one neat packet instead of be divided into partssome of which you might have to ask for special from your local butcher or grocer.
Once the carcass was plucked, Colin set about to removing the internal organs and dividing the edible chips like the liver and kidneys from the non-edibles like the gall bladder. Andrew and I were playing with the feet in the sink, tugging on the tendons to stir the toes curl up. Romantic, right?
Eventually we took the scalp off the feet to save them for something laterprobably broth, but perhaps pickling. I took a photograph of the partly de-gloved paw and Andrew and I had a long debate about the appropriate Instagram filter for such a grotesque photo. I settled on Brennan, with the tilt-shift aspect focused on the center toe. Andrew would afterward like the photo on Instagram.
Once it was all said and done, I was strangely ravenous, as was Andrew. We started to stir scrambled eggs, corn, and garlic to go with some tortillas. Then we decided to throw in some of the liver Colin had just pulled out from Dorothy.
That was when it odd for me, and not only because of the liver’s oily texture. Though many take more comfort in knowing where their meat comes from, I had become so accustomed to my willful ignorance that it was a little fazing devouring the liver of a chicken I had just watched die less than an hour prior. Maybe I was focused on this thought because plain, sauteed chicken liver and clambered eggs isnt exactly gourmet.
After it was all said and done, Andrew asked me if I would ever choose to wielded the bayonet myself. I supposed I probably would do it, but if anyone volunteered to do the deed in my region, I wouldnt are hesitant to hand off the challenge.
Killing a chicken didnt kill the sorcery. Andrew and I went on a fifth datethis time to your more run-of-the-mill artwork museum. There are more dates in our futurethough hopefully we’ll be watching the Golden Girls while the remaining gals enjoy their lives in Andrew’s backyard.
Photo by Cynthia McKelvey
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