Today is another perfect Sunday. Pristine blue skies, 70 degrees, a nice breeze, and the first signs of fall color in the trees. Yesterday was the official first day of fall, and here at Chewonki that means more than just the change of leaves and cooler weather. It’s the time of year to “dress” and “process” the animals, also known as slaughtering. This last week over the course of three days, all of the meat birds were killed and gutted.
On Thursday during Work Program I got the opportunity to participate in the process. While I was reluctant about it at first, in the end I was really glad that I did it.
We walked down to the farm, dressed in work pants and rubber boots, silently anticipating and wondering about what it would be like. When we got to the farm, we saw a cage of chickens waiting to be slaughtered, along with several different buckets used for the different stages of the process. Abby (the farm assistant) demonstrated how it was done. The chickens were killed by Brad, Margaret, or Abby (all farm managers.) After that, it was our job to put the chickens in a plucking machine that spun all of their feathers off. Next we gutted the chickens, taking out their organs and cleaning them. It was a surreal experience, witnessing them run around and then within 10 minutes looking like what you would buy from the store.
It was tough, especially at first to deal with the chickens being killed and participate in cleaning. However, the chickens along with farm talks and discussions we have been having in Lit and the Land have sparked a new consciousness among the students about what we eat and where it comes from. During the farm talk, we listened to excerpts from Fast Food Nation and learned statistics about where the average hamburger or chicken breast actually comes from. Some people are trying out vegetarianism; others have decided to eat only organic and local meat.
I love how being here, we get the chance to explore issues from so many different angles. I got to think about my opinions on meat production from the farm, the classroom, and the dinner table.
In other news, we ate ants in Natural History this week, went to the Common Ground Country fair on Saturday, dyed wool, took history tests, watched Love Actually on a big projector screen, did Polar Bear swims on Sunday mornings, and much, much more. Now we are all preparing for our respective wilderness trips, pulling out every piece of synthetic clothing, and getting psyched to sleep out and explore Maine.
-Dana Golden, Seattle, WA