So, this is how my day started:
“Taco” our 4 month old cockerel who is destined for the crockpot.
And this is how it ended:
Yummy chicken tacos
You can guess what happened in the middle. Or can you…?
I started out the day expecting to slaughter a chicken, take some pictures, and load up a tutorial of sorts, What I ended up with is some important lessons in homesteading, preparedness, and emergency first aid. Yes, first aid. Now you might have an inkling that things did not go so well.
WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC PICTURES. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO SEE THEM, DO NOT CONTINUE!
So, this morning, the rooster, affectionately named “Taco,” finally found his voice and gave several full fledged cocka-doodle-doo’s. We were able to sell his brothers through Craigslist, but this guy, for whatever reason did not sell. So, before we got a neighbor complaint and ended up with a fine from the city, we decided to turn him into his namesake.
I set the stock pot on the stove to boil and got to girls to tear some old phone book pages into a bag in a bucket (to soak up the blood during the butchering.)
Then, I grabbed Taco and got prepared.
And this is where it all went wrong. Well, kinda.
I successfully detached the head, he started wiggling, like I knew he would, and I brought my other hand around to hold him still. The hand which had forgotten to let go of the very sharp knife.
Speed forward about an hour, and there I am at the Emergency Room.
Hmmm… what’s under the gauze?
WARNING, THE NEXT PICTURE IS RATHER GRIZZLY!
The worst laceration I’ve ever had. Seven stitches. Oy!
All bandaged and splinted up. The splint is so I don’t bend my hand and pull on the stitches.
So, what have I learned from all this?
First and foremost, DROP THE KNIFE! I should have immediately put the knife down as soon as the head was detached. This oversight comes from not thinking through the process well enough from beginning to end. It’s been a while since we’ve done this and it would have been good to walk through the entire process in my mind first. Think it through. This goes for any new thing you are attempting. Not everything will have Emergency Room potential, but even just mitigating mistakes and re-do’s will be worth the time it takes to think things through in the first place. And, of course, avoiding a trip to the ER is preferable in all situations.
Secondly, have a wound care nurse on hand in the event of an emergency. If you don’t have a nurse hanging around (because, who does?), at least know updated first aid practices. Yes, we did have a nurse in the house, she was here tending to my mother-in-law. But the Hubby and I did all the right things and knew all the information. Don’t panic, apply immediate pressure, rinse the wound if it got dirty, cover the wound, don’t take bandages off to peek, wrap the area applying pressure, and seek immediate professional care. I took a 1st Aid course less than a year ago and was rather gratified that I knew what to do (once I got over the shock of it happening). I don’t know many people who would dispute that knowing first aid is a good thing. But when you are a homesteader, I believe it is even more important. The potential for accidents is exponentially greater the more you get up off your couch – you know, when you do all your homesteading chores. And, if you are aiming for self-sufficiency, knowing how to do as much as you can is important, as is knowing when you need to head to the ER and when super glue or steri-strips will do the job. Obviously today necessitated a trip to the ER.
Third, while I was rather proud of myself that I had the correct knowledge in my head to take care of myself, all the knowledge in the world isn’t going to help me treat myself if I don’t have the correct supplies or can’t find them. It was brought to light that we don’t have a good first aid kit put together. We have most of the things we need, but they are scattered in different areas of the house and vehicles. Could we have improvised? Certainly. Should we have needed to? No.
And that brings up my 4th point. Every adult and child old enough living in the house needs know where the first aid kit is and how to use it. This is another area that I am lacking in. Sure, I have the knowledge, but if Hubby is the one who knows where all the supplies are and he’s not available, then what? And Princess Girl is old enough now that she needs to know 1st aid for herself. What if something happens and the adults are incapacitated? Or, as in the case of a bad laceration such as mine, it’s hard to do what needs to be done with only one hand. Sure, I can direct if I’m able, but having a helper with the knowledge is preferable, and Princess Girl could be that helper if she was trained.
Lastly, don’t be surprised when you pencil things out and raising your own food is more expensive than buying the cheap stuff from the store. We fed “Taco” for nearly three and a half months. We got one good meal and some leftovers out of him, plus his bones will go into the next batch of bone broth I make. It doesn’t add up financially. Add in ER costs and those were some of the most expensive tacos I’ve ever eaten! But the monetary costs aren’t important. Sure, it’s prudent to cut costs and save money where you can and not get in over your head financially, but I truly believe this way of life is good, it’s valuable, with benefits far above what the markings on a piece of paper can tell you. As embarrassing as it was too have to tell my story over and over at the ER, there is a part of me that is proud that I sustained this injury from something as uncommon and awesome as slaughtering my own “farm raised” chicken. I’ve heard other homesteaders say that one of the things they love about this way of life is that they can tell the story of their food. Boy, do I have a story to tell! And I’ll have the scar to prove it.
Well, I think that’s it. This has been a long post to type with one hand. 🙂 In fact, I’m finishing this up the next morning because I got too tired last night. And guess what I had in my scrambled eggs this morning. That’s right, left over taco meat. It was yummy.