new territory

It all began with sobs.  Hysterical sobs that turn your guts inside out and tug at your heart so hard your stomach hurts.  E-man’s Maquiette became the victim of the latent instincts of our neighbor’s sweet dog. He was sweet enough to leave us her lifeless  body, short a few feathers, but otherwise unscathed.

Then things changed course.  A sad, sad E-man trying to make sense of this loss wondered why his dear furry friend would hurt his dear feathered friend.  A brief explanation of a dog’s instincts ensued and lead to a discussion of chickens as friends and chickens as dinner.  E-man fell silent.  Processing.  Processing. Processing.  And the silence ended with this:

“Well, then I guess we should eat Maquiette.”

Then I fell silent.  Processing.  Processing.  Processing.    And the silence ended with this:

“Well, I guess we could.”

What was to follow was all new territory.  Two boys petting their dead chicken while discussing whether we would eat her feet.  One mama trying to cyber-learn how to clean and butcher a chicken.  One family coming to terms with death and life in a whole new context.  

And so we have learned to have reverence for our feathered friends as we nurture them and they nurture us.  We held a little ceremony as we gave part of Maquiette back to the earth (feet included) and we recongnized her as part of us, part of the coyotes and vultures, and part of the soil and plants.  

It was a profound new place we traveled through yesterday.  At least for me.  It was life and death for the boys. Simple and beautiful.

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5 thoughts on “new territory

  1. I clearly remember – albeit a teenager – sitting down with my family to eat “Romeo” our first chicken (rooster) that fed us after we fed him. It’s a memory that stuck, not as tragic but as mildly sad but important.
    You are doing a lovely job at being a thoughtful and sensitive gatekeeper to your boys and lives’ many tricky realities. What an inspiration you are to me, I try really hard to keep Gus safe every day without keeping him from learning about life and this world.
    I’m still considering a few chickens myself…for now I wrestle with tomato plants…love you – G

  2. No.way. I’m amazed at how E’s mind works! I really don’t know how I would have responded to that one… Here at work, he had me laughing out loud. ha! ha!

  3. This story was so perfectly funny and heartwrenching at the same the same time – what a perfect metaphor for life. And above all, the way you handled it inspires me – if I could only be so level-headed!
    One week ago Friday we took home 6 two-day-old chicks from the local feed mill. Adam built a brooder for them that night and they’re in our house under a lamp and growing and squeaking (and pooping) all day and night. In one week they’ve gone from fragile tiny downy fluff to twice-their-size birds with feathered wings and tails.
    Your story couldn’t have come our way at a better time, a reminder of the realities of raising animals! You guys are amazing.
    In peace,
    jessica

  4. That’s a wonderful story. Perfect, really. What better way to learn about the cycles of life.
    For me, it was rabbits in France, which are pets and then food.

  5. Now you have just GOT to read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle more than ever. Thanks for capturing this moment and so many other beautiful, poignant ones.

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