Morning creeps across the farm as I tie the string of my apron; standing in the kitchen where the coffee's aroma begs me to stay. My feet carry me into the morning sunlight- so mild and gentle at this hour. Knowing the heat will come soon I gather my tools preparing for the task ahead; this will be a long day with much hard work to be done.
We each have our place in the butchering line; mine spot is at the end. No one part of the work bothers me having grown up around farming my whole life; my family is the same- each taught the skills needed to handle each part of the process and often trading places when the day gets long. I stand at the end where nimbleness with the knife is best. While attentiveness is needed here, my mind often wanders- giving relief to the heat or the exhaustion that comes as the day wears on.
Part of the birds will be butchered for "parts only" to aide with storage space and time. Larger birds are easier to handle this way. Busy with the task before me, my memory sees my grandmother standing before me such wastefulness. She lived through the depression and always was quite stern about repurposing every little thing. My heart laughs as I remember washing aluminum foil and the film that comes between cheese slices. Such memories of her linger in my mind.
Continuing along the way the kids strike up a conversation about fried chicken (gives renewed purpose to tired workers). A smile crosses my face as I recall my greatgrandmother's deep love for her fried chicken. She kept it in the kitchen cabinet (not the fridge, mind you) and pulled it out when you came to visit- because we were too skinny. Those were days of chatter around the table and the scent of her powder- her stifled giggle when she'd bite her tongue mercy!
Our work goes on with smaller birds coming across the table now; these will be stored whole. My mind envisions women of old gathered in their prairie homesteads; aprons cover their work dresses and flour sack towels are tied over their hair. The work of putting up food brings families together- sometimes neighbors as well- sharing their memories and laughter to make the work lighter.
We wander through the past year- recalling dumplings and home-made noodles, roasted chicken with herbs and root vegetables- even chicken soup, for when we are sick or just real cold. Packing and working- they look forward to summer days with bar-b-cue chicken and chicken salad. Memories will be made and carried over to the next year and beyond.
The task ends for today; choring time comes with the call of hungry livestock. Washing up I laugh as visions of washing dishes in my grandmother's big kitchen play in my mind. Always mindful of drought, she was firm about limiting your water usage- not even rinsing the soap off it will dry just fine. Awe, it makes me miss her.
It just goes to show, you never know what mark you will leave or the impressions that will last a lifetime.