Half of a cow showed up at our doorstep last night. Just chillin’ there. He wasn’t a great conversationalist, so now he’s chillin’ in the deep freeze downstairs. He seems to be happier down there, as are we.
It appears that we will eat for another year. Many, many hamburgers.
This year, our butcher receipt debuted a new message:
This cow was more than 30 months old, so by law we have to remove the spinal column. You will receive Tenderloin and New York Strip steaks.
Well, then. That’s cryptic and slightly terrifying.
Despite Dr. Google being at my fingertips, I have chosen not to further investigate the reasons my bovine spinal column might be confiscated by the state, but rather to believe it to have something to do with uniquely midwestern town square installations. Something akin to Jackson Hole’s elk-antler arch. I’m sure that’s it. Oversized vertebral sculpture parks on the shores of Lake Winnebago.
The same day the bossy hit our freezer, we were supposed to be on the bestowing end of an exciting poultry transaction. We’ve been raising chickens for over a decade, and while it has been rewarding (far more in the comedic relief category than the food production category), it has also been more of a trial than we signed up for.
Facts we wish we’d been privy to before the operation got underway:
- Chickens are tasty. Raising them free-range in the woods is nearly impossible.
- Raccoons are evil. And they have opposable thumbs.
- Chickens are stupid. And believe themselves to be capable of befriending neighbor dogs.
- Neighbor dogs, no matter how well-behaved, will not turn down any Kentucky Fried buffet that serves itself up on a silver platter, at their front door.
- Chickens pick up on negative vibes. Once you start resenting them, they will give you many more reasons to do so.
- It is very easy to resent a chicken.
I would like to tell you that I am above resenting a chicken, but the 76,000 chickens that have hatched and expired on this farm over the years have tested my better nature. Not to mention the foxes and wolves and blizzards and dogs and weasels and coons that have hastened said expirations. I have been done with the birds for a few years now.
Scott has thus far been unwilling to give up the dream.
The sticking point here, I suspect, has had more to do with the chicken coop than the chickens. That coop almost killed us.
We were freshly married when we thought it would be a good idea to embark upon a construction project together.
This was not a good idea. This was not a marriage-building activity. This was decidedly a marriage-wrecking activity, and it is nothing short of divine intervention that we survived it.
Here where I live, a decade down the road, there is still some irrational hanging onto the inhabitants of that coop. As though giving up on them may render our life together meaningless.
Nevertheless. The time has come. Finally, finally, we are throwing in the towel. It is beyond me why anyone would willingly purchase 35 chickens at the precise time of year that they simultaneously withhold eggs and demand feed, but we did indeed find a taker.
And it turns out that the potential dissolution of our bird-brains did not tear us apart. It was not, however, without repercussion.
The very prospect of the deal apparently tore another relationship apart at the seams–that of the couple who were supposed to pick up the whole works tonight. They called today, very apologetic. Their marriage was ending, and suddenly they were in no position to import further livestock.
I am beyond words. I don’t know what it says about me that I am struggling to muster proper levels of empathy for the poor folks who are–as we speak–walking through marital hell, and that the struggle is 100% because I am too caught up in my own sadness at a still-full chicken coop.
A recalibration may be in order.
If you’ve been dreaming of your very own flock of wild jungle fowl with every ounce of wild bred out of them, give me a ring. The price just fell through the floor.
Also, Sherman says hello.
Love, from the chicken ranch,
If you wanted to know about your cow/spinal collumn question, thanks to my Previous Occupational Experience(tm) I could tell you, but only if you ask. Your butcher did right. 😊
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I might have to work up to that one.
OK. Do it. Tell me.
BSE. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow). The contagious element (prions) contaminate the spinal column and other related anatomy. You’ll find they didn’t give you the brain, eyes or ganglia either. Stuff other cultures would miss but most of us didn’t blink when the USDA made the law that those aren’t for human consumption.
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I am indeed sad to be missing my ganglia, though. Stormy days ahead.