Yesterday, Henry had a bad day. He fell asleep with his glasses on watching TV and woke to find they were missing. At first we thought Henry might have pulled them off in his sleep. Several possibilities were considered but we finally figured out what had happened. It seems sometime in the night the suspect, a repeat offender, one mischievous Irish, saw the shiny plastic toy on Henry’s face and figuring Henry wasn’t playing with it, decided he could make better use of the play-thing. Somehow Irish then tugged them off Henry’s face with his teeth. Now obviously this couldn’t have happened to too many people, but my boy who once fell off the top bunk only to keep on snoring after landing, sleeps the sleep of the dead. Naturally, we couldn’t get too upset with the playful puppy who had no idea they are currently beyond our budget to replace. Luckily Henry has his contacts.
Fresh from this set back Henry was not happy to realize we’d run out of milk for his Cheerios™ so he decided he was going to have a Cup of Noodles™ – Chicken Flavor for breakfast. He was pouring the boiling water when some of it diverted onto the foil lid and cascade down onto his hand holding the cup. Though the pain was immense it has now subsided leaving second and third degree burns.
The docotr instructed him on how to dress the wound and he’s been very diligent. So careful he pointed out that no matter how much he’d like to clean the cat box it would be far too dangerous when you factor in the risk of infection and all. Considering the bulky bandage he was a little nervous to don gloves to feed the bees their sugar water, but he skillfully slid the glove over his hand as if he was MacGyver diffusing a bomb.
Henry’s bees have sent me spinning off in a new direction causing me to consider taking a path I couldn’t have guessed even a short time ago. Funny how life is, if we hadn’t met Dan on the plane we wouldn’t have discussed bees and Henry wouldn’t have a hive. If Henry didn’t have a hive he wouldn’t be starting his honey business, if he weren’t starting his honey business we wouldn’t have started talking about the idea of the animals providing for us. We have since discussed the sheep and their wool and talked at length about whether or not we could emotionally handle becoming more “self-sustaining” and all that implies.
I can barely handle the idea of the food chain and so what business I have thinking about getting food animals I’ll never know. When watching a documentary about a field mouse I get weepy when a coyote eats one of them, but then again I get just as weepy watching a documentary about a coyote trying to feed her litter and am exhilarated when she captures a field mouse keeping her pups from starving. So what does that tell you other than “Sybil” is not just a movie.
I have wrestled many times with Tom’s childhood story about the bunnies who hopped and played with him. Only for him to come home from school one day and find his snuggly friends packaged in the freezer ready to serve. Tom’s pain always makes me recall my friend, Betsy and her, similar experience. Tom’s bunnies were nameless innocents while Betsy was required to eat her longtime pet rabbit. The obvious scars those events left on people I care about are not something I want to do to my extremely emotional son or nieces. After all when Abe, Anna and Andy showed up in our pasture Quinn became a vegetarian.
Frankly, the more I find out about our food supply system, how animals are raised, treated and butchered the more I begin to see why Maryruth believes in eating only “happy meat”. With this in mind I began to revisit the idea of Heritage poultry. By definition a heritage breed must have the ability to reproduce. A simple feat one would think, but not so these days. Anyway, I’ve been very against chickens. While it is true Lisa and I had a pair of Rhode Island Reds when we were little – Max and Maxine who met an untimely demise due to a couple of over zealous canines, I haven’t really ever seen the allure of chickens like Toby has. To me they seem fidgety, brainless, and delicate – the Paris Hilton’s of the farm set but perhaps I’m not giving the chickens a fair shake. They do give a farm a certain farm quality They provide the sound effects one takes for granted and they do eat mosquitoes. A definite plus.
“Henry? Do you think if we got some chickens and turkeys you’d be OK with eating a few of the boys?”
“How many would we get?” Henry countered not ready to commit.
“Well, we’d have to get a total of twenty-five, but in a poultry order from Sand Hill Preservation a turkey is worth two chickens and I thought we’d get four turkeys in hopes of getting at least one hen and one tom.” I explained.
“Twenty-five then we won’t really be naming.” Henry reasoned.
“No. You can’t tell the boys from the girls for a while anyway and we just don’t need more than a couple of roosters. They’ll fight and cause all sorts of problems.”
“If we like a few of them then can we name them?” Henry implored.
“I guess that’s what’ll happen.” I conceded.
“And the turkeys?”
“Well, I don’t know I want a pair, but I don’t think I want to eat one of them. I know what’ll happen in that case.”
“What” Henry demanded?
“Oh the one we’d plan on eating will get some kind of Thanksgiving pardon from Quinn.” I said, “We have to be realistic. I know I can’t butcher them myself. You know your father helped his dad do it.”
“He did? Really?” Henry said somewhat in shock.
“Yes. He knows first hand why they say running around like a chicken with its head cut off.”
“I heard one chicken lived eight months like that. Hey you know you said we’d never get chickens you even had uncle Chris tear down the coop.”
“I said I’d never be a teacher too. Never say never I guess.”
“Well, I do like a good chicken burrito, so yeah I could eat ‘em not a problem.” Henry said callously.