Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Shopping Christmas Eve.

     I am not a shopper - let's establish that from the start.  I go to a store with a list, a plan, and a desire to leave as soon as possible. You will never catch me near a mall on Black Friday or the weekend following it.
   I do, however, love to shop on Christmas Eve.  There is a different feeling the day before the gifting frenzy takes place.  Everyone is a bit more:  more friendly, more helpful, more sheepish at the lateness of their endeavors, more willing to go out of their way to  lend a hand.  It is what I think we should be doing all the time, but I often do not see it until right before Christmas.
    Examples:  my husband and I went to the  Walmart this morning at 8 a.m.  I was in the  fabric section (big surprise!) looking for some thread, and an elderly gentleman with a completely empty cart was looking lost.  He caught my eye and asked for help locating stick on letters to  put his grandkids' names on a go-cart.  His wife had sent him and he had no idea where to start.  I suggested the craft aisle and  the aisle with mailboxes.  Another lady added that the scrap booking aisle might have them.  He smiled and thanked us and he felt better, we felt better, and the day had a good start.
     We ran to the local bookstore, only to find it was not yet open, and as we turned away, debating about buying coffee next door, the owner of the shop popped his head out and told us he was now open.  He had seen us through the window and rushed over to open a few minutes early.  Cynics might say he just wanted a sale, but I think he was being a good person.
     Later, taking the kids to a different store, we saw a lady who made my 5'3" look tall, trying to find the right size thermal underwear for her 93 year old dad.  All she could find were extra tall, XXL, all too big.  My daughter spend 10 minutes dragging display boxes off the shelf that was over this woman's head, helping her find the right size.  There were smiles, a little background on her chilly dad, and more good feelings.
     So Merry Christmas to all of you.  Remember why we celebrate.  Give your loved ones that little extra bit of your time and attention.  Life is precious, people are good and we can all spread joy, even by doing little things like holding a box, or opening a shop early.    Much love to you all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Hopeful Farmer: Eating Snowy

    Ding! Dong! The rooster is dead!  Snowy, the wicked rooster, who terrorized my children and plucked half of the hens naked, is now history.  Right around Thanksgiving we decided it was time.  We had the time and  a tutorial from  Youtube, so what more did we need?
    To start with, we needed to catch him.  Snowy was a pretty smart bird.  My husband almost caught him with a snare, twice,  but the darn thing escaped.  Trying to go into the  run and actually catch him outright would have meant much bloodshed on our part - and I will admit, I was scared of that rooster!  In the process of trying to  catch him, both Snowy and one of the hens escaped the run.  Now shooing the hen back into the  run was easy.  Snowy was free and he was going to stay that way.  He ducked under the car, and literally crawled to the other side. I never knew chickens could crawl!  My husband grabbed an old blanket out of the car and began chasing the  bird around the barnyard.  That is when it got funny.  The rooster  squeezed through the fence - Drew had to go over it.  He  flew, and ran as Drew chased.  Eventually, the blanket won, and the bird was strung up  in the shed.
     There are many ways to actually kill a chicken.  Drew slit its throat. We are not certain we did this correctly, because it took an awfully  long time for the  rooster to bleed out.   It was getting dark, so we took him home for the processing.
   It got more silly as we tried to  scald him for plucking, and the  bird did not fit in the pot.  We got a larger pot, more water, and a computer, and things got going.  With Drew  doing the actual work, and me reading the steps off the laptop, it was eventually done.   I would read a step, "Okay, you are supposed to scrape out the lungs"  and Drew would respond with, "What do the lungs look like?"  I would show him the photos and he would search for the proper looking things to remove.  It was a weird experience, probably best done in the daylight, not by patio lights in the cold of winter, but the deed was done.
     When he was  ready for cooking, that bird was a 5 1/2 pounder!  He became Coq au Vin, and he was delicious.
     Now, the hens are getting their feathers back.  We can open the coop or go into the run without arming ourselves with shovel or rake.  I do not care how pretty they are, the new rule is:  no more roosters!

Don't mess with dad, or he might put you in the soup pot!