Thursday, July 21, 2011

Long, long time no type

So yeah... It's been a while. Too long, I guess. I need to do this more often, probably. Maybe I'll get back in the habit.

There's a lot of shit going on in my life at the moment. There's a lot of stress, many of you know most of it. Finances awry, submitted a portfolio for school for Graphic Design, my mom had a small amount of cancer that we're hoping was destroyed by chemo and radiation. Physically, my back is killing me because my cortisone epidural is way over due (that's a long story), and I've been diagnosed with Reynaud's in my feet officially. There's also some neuropathy in my toes and part of the ball of my foot. Guess that explains why I could wear Birkenstocks in a foot of snow and not feel the cold. =) My triglycerides are through the roof, so I've been put on Lipitor. Last night was my first dose. It's kinda contraindicated for people with fibro because one of the side effects can be muscle cramping. We'll see how it goes.

The list goes on and on. On a 'bummer' note, I won't be going to Pennsic this year. Boo hiss. I'll miss my camp mates so much. The campfires, the harp waking me at sunup... But that's the way it is. I wish everyone there a safe and happy time (KEEP HYDRATED AND SALTED in this crazy heat!!)

Anyhow, tonight I was talking with a friend and we got on the discussion of maggots. Don't ask. Anyhow, I related this story of my childhood. I've cleaned it up a little to make it more readable, spell checked it and removed names of the innocent... :) If you're squeemish, you may want to skip the story...
I know maggots are used to clean wounds in certain places where medicine is hard to come by, but EWWWW

I told you my mom's family had a farm, didn't I? Maybe I didn't.

OK. Story time.

So my mom's parents have a small farm that they use to sustain them, the adult kid's family's to a degree, and they sold eggs, milk and meat This was in the '80s. Each fall the family would all take part in the chicken processing: Gramma, Pap, my mom and 2 of her sisters, me and 2 female cousins and 2 boy cousins.

Aunt R was executioner... Big wooden stump with 2 nails in it. The chicken's head went between the nails, she pulled it taut and WHACK! A big ax came down. She then would throw the headless chicken out into the yard and gets another one. Us young girls (~8-10) would have to catch the chicken and put it under the wheelbarrow so it couldn't flop around and bruise the meat. All the while blood is splurting out the neck, going everywhere.

Did you know chickens will still cluck without a head if you cut it off above the voice box? Well, now you do.

So once we get a small batch of dead birds, you took your bird by the feet, dunked it in a cauldron (no shit, a huge iron cauldron) of boiling water, swung it back and forth a couple times to get the excess water off and cool it just a bit, then you went over to the table.

The table was one of those HUGE wooden spools you see electric companies carrying wire on; about 6 feet in diameter and 4 foot wide... So tip it on it's side and it makes a great table. Pap worked for the electric company as a lineman, I think, so that's how he got one.

Once you had your scalded chicken at the table, you started to pluck it. You basically pull the feathers out the way they grow. And it's a huge pain in the ass. All the feathers get thrown in a box in the middle of the table (where the chicken heads got placed too)

The boys helped pull feathers too. But they sucked at it and left pin feathers galore. UGH.

Once ALL the chickens were plucked for the day (usually about 100-150 I think, and it would last all weekend or spanned over a couple weekends, doing about 400 total), the boys went off to the garage with Uncle John and got to ride the 4 wheelers. Bastards. ALL the girls and women went down into the basement to process them.

The 3 of us girls had a dish tub in front of us (sitting straddle on a long wooden bench) with a short paring knife that we would use to pull the pin feathers out (basically the quill part with out the feather). We could always tell which ones the boys did. My mom and her sisters (again, 3 of them) helped do it too, but they also started first by helping Gramma gut them, figure out which organs were kept and which went in the box. I think we kept the gizzard, heart and liver.

Incidentally, it seems to take about a 1/2 hour for a chicken to finally 'let go' with it's bowels. Dead chicken farts and shit is one of the worst smells I've ever encountered. It even beats a paper mill.

So there's this BOX that gets used and accumulates all the unwanted parts. Pap would take the box and put it out in the woods somewhere. One day I'm going with Pap on the tractor to put a box out and OMG, there was a box from the previous weekend (it was a large flock of chickens that year)

It was by this point a HUGE writhing mass of rice. You couldn't see anything but the whiteish writhing mass... since then I've had a thing about maggots.

I've been knitting, not so much spinning. HOWEVER, KlrWombat was kind enough to give me an entire fleece that I would desperately love to spin. It FILLS a feed-sack. 10-15lbs? It's dark, dark brown, about 4" staple with very tight crimp. I don't know what it is but it looks LOVELY! Unfortunately I'm in no shape to process it at the moment. Some day, maybe next year, when I get finances straightened out, I want to send it off to be processed. From what I gather by talking to other spinners, I'm looking at about >$100 to have it done (and by 'done' I mean washed, cleaned and turned into spinnable roving. the whole shebang!). I can dream, at least. My most recent project was a shawl from the pattern Summer Flies off Ravelry. I'm lazy and haven't blocked it yet. Now I'm working on a pair of socks for KlrWombat...