Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Chicken Saga: A Donation. Part One

Our Chicken Project is not moving forward at the moment. Although it is under frequent discussion, and we reach points whereby we almost launch ourselves into chicken ownership, there is always a valid reason as to why it is not an option at this time. Mostly this is to with animal welfare: not having suitable accommodation. Now we could have squeezed the girls and boy into a small pen but decided against this, the reason being that the girls are going to working hard for us and so deserve the best of housing we can possibly manage. Which basically means free range: that they must be able to be out and about during the day so they have their adventures and live life to the full. Presumably the cock will be busy looking after his girls and doing the honours of servicing them when they require such a service, so he will be busy as well. Having no fences means this is not do-able at the moment, so we must wait.

However: a donation came our way. Which was one chicken.


Now it is obvious that this chicken is without feathers so therefore can be presumed deceased. And you are right. It is deceased.

And here is the provider of said chicken:


Now this lady is 81 years old would you believe! I am 62. And she is a stirling example of the older people here. There is no 'old age' as such, only people who carry their years well. Anyway, I digress!

What happened was this: this lady, whose name is Marie-Rose, is the owner of the gite in which Karen (my daughter) stayed recently. Upon booking the gite, Marie-Rose asked if I would like a chicken. "Yes" I said, thinking that to refuse would seem churlish of me.

Karen and the boys arrived. Marie-Rose engaged me in a conversation which was populated with various hand signals, all about the chicken. She kept pointing to her neck, and amongst a stream of French words I heard the word 'stick' as she did so. Eventually it pilfered into my head that she was asking me if I was going to kill the chicken or should her husband do it.

Mmmmmm. So this was not going to a donation of a still-alive chicken. Ooooopppss! So now in a right quandry, all I could do was ask that her husband do the honours, whereupon she said "Ce soir". (This evening)

"Ce soir" came and went and no chicken. 'Phew' I thought to myself, 'She must have forgotten'. But no. She hadn't.

Arriving at the gite the next morning to pick up Karen and the boys for a jaunt into the Pyrenees, and there she was. Summoning me to follow, she took me round to her barn and there was her husband divesting the chicken of the last of its feathers, trimming its toes, giving it the once over. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Tom, who was standing beside me, looked at me questioningly. Mmmmmmmmm. A splutter of French came at me from Marie-Rose's husband. I think he was asking me if my husband was going to finish it off. I said "Oui", aware of the time ticking by and the need to get on the road if we were going to have plenty of time in the Pyrenees.

Marie-Rose beckoned me into her kitchen. Asked if I had a pot in which to cook the chicken, which I didn't, so lent me a pot and gave me some veg. Mmmmmmmm. Oh crikey, this was taking ages! And all the while the thought which was running upermost in my mind was "How am I going to explain this to Lester" who up until now was aware that there was a chicken on the way, but didn't know exactly the state in which the chicken would be in. This was overlaying the other thought which was "We have got to get on the road otherwise the day will be over and done with before we have set foot in the mountains".

We made our exit gracefully, with Tom doing the honours and carrying the potted chicken out to the car, which he did with much courage!



...although I did hold the pot for a photo-shoot moment with Marie-Rose, hence the photo up top.

So..... quick dash round to Labartere, to give Lester the potted chicken:




As you can see he was more than somewhat bemused......



.....had a "What the **** am I supposed to do with this?" moment, before squaring his shoulders, grabbing a knife, actually a bread knife which was all we had, and got on with his task of getting the innards out. First he cut the head off, at which we all departed quite quickly. He had already got the feet off as can be seen on the table beside him.



So off we went for the day. Lester had to work, hence the passing on of the responsibility of what to do with the chicken.

I will let you know what happened subsequently in part two of this blog.