I remember when I wrote the "De Gallina" essay in Clint Darling's class- an essay about anything, along as it was something to do with chickens. That's the one reason I'd ever return to Freshman year. I could write fifty essays based on today. I feel... like I will write about this experience at least a few times later in life.
Today I helped kill fifteen chickens. My job was to go pick them up and take them to the orange cones, where they were flipped upside down, head pulled out, knife inserted in the middle of their neck, jugular vein cut through in once slice. The heart pumped the blood out of the body into the bucket for a few minutes, and once the chickens life faded out we prepared the body.
Once the chicken ceased to struggle, and all the blood was out, we put the body in a tub of 150 degree water- strong enough to relax their feather muscles, but not enough to cook it. Then the body went to the "plucker," a big machine that looks a lot like a clothes dryer, with rubber knobs. It whirled around at a high speed, water shot out, and the bodies tumbled around so the rubber knobs could scrape off all their feathers, and the yellow skin on their feet.
The body then went to the dissection table. The head went in the trash, but the feet were saved to make a stock. He made an incision under the breastbone, and carefully took out the insides, making sure not to break the intestines or bladder. We threw those away. The liver and heart were put into their own bags, and then on ice, to save. There's a muscle inside them that chews up the grass, and he opened that, and I could see the grass inside before we threw it away. I plucked out some of the feathers that were left. Some feathers were actually quite beautiful, some were great big long ones, red, brown, and black, with little gold flecks, so I saved them, and put them in my bag. Maybe I will make something out of them.
I also noticed today that chickens eyes are orange. I noticed this when I held one under my arm, taking it to the cone. It held still as I held its wings tight. Its heart beat fast against my ribs where I hugged it, it breathed hard, and stared at me intensely. It was obviously scared. Its eye was bright orange, and sort of gold. It was beautiful, and I know that never again will I look into an animals eyes and take the flicker of life for granted. It's strange, I know where every piece of the chicken went after death, from the feathers to the blood to the toes. We took everything out with our hands, except for the flicker. It's amazing how that just leaves, but no one knows where it goes. Not even science itself.
[ N.B. I have pictures, of the whole process, but I don't know if I should post them. Give me your input if you think I should, or shouldn't. I don't want an encounter with P.E.T.A.]