The chicks are no more. Well, at least they are not in their previous metaphysical state. On Wednesday I celebrated my birthday by getting up at 5:30, loading some very reluctant chickens into a crate (did they know?), and driving to a slaughterhouse. Yes, a real slaughterhouse.
Without too much detail, there were a couple of things I hadn't expected, notably the fact that I basically backed my truck up to the place where it all happened, while I had pictured some sort of emotionally and physically detached drop-off place. A sort of waiting room for chickens. But, nope - back up and hand 'em off, ten feet from where the guy is with the knife. I suppose one advantage (if you can call it that) of that setup is that I know for a fact that it was quickly done. I scoped out the situation and decided not to watch as my birds were done in. Yup, sentimental even when betraying them.
I've said it before - you know those women in movies, who coldly plot the murder of someone while barely disclosing a ripple of concern, who are at once terrifying and intriguing? I am not one of those women.
Yes, I know they were destined for that when we bought them, and I know they had a good chicken-y life, and I know there wasn't time for them to suffer, but I will admit that I cried for a while as we drove away feeling like something of a traitor. Things were on a much more normal plane when we picked up our fourteen completely cleaned, chilled, packaged and inspected chickens which ranged in size from 5.2 to 7.7 pounds. All for under $50, at which price they can do it for me any time.
The real birthday celebration happened that evening, when D and I went to dinner with Seren and RSH for an evening of good food and wine, much laughter, much shopping, and creme caramel with a birthday candle in it to top it all off.
Tonight was the taste-test. I went to the grocery store yesterday and looked at the sad-looking chickens they had available. 'Ha!' I laughed inwardly, 'you call that prime poultry?' Not only that, they cost more and were smaller than ours. But, for a side-by-side test I chose a large one (about $3/pound) and roasted it with our smallest (about $2.20/pound). The results were tasty on both sides, but the store chicken looked a bit anemic next to ours and the texture was even a bit on the mushy side.
The end result of our experiment - success. Good chicken, nicely raised, cheaper than the store, and I know exactly how it was treated and fed through its life. We plan to do it again next year but for now will enjoy the remaining thirteen roasters in our freezer.
School's first week went well, though I will not be listing Wednesday morning's outing as a field trip.