Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It Tastes Like Chicken—Day 7 of a Town Girl Touched by the Farming Life

Training another generation
            Not only do farm families often look to their own livestock as a food resource, but also they look to what God has provided with the four legged (and flying two legged) creatures that roam the forests and meadows. 

            When many families think about how they have been touched by "wildlife" meals, they often think of venison.  That is not the case with me.  First, my parents did not like the taste of deer meat.  Second, in his younger years, my dad thought standing or sitting in one place all day and hoping one of these large animals would pass by would drive him crazy.  For some reason, he also rarely went rabbit hunting.

            In contrast, I remember lots of squirrel, dove, and quail to eat. Some years, frog legs hopped their way to our dinner plates, too.  Although I can remember other critters he hunted for their fur, I cannot think of others that made it to our kitchen table as a meal.  I know I will think of something else later.  I guess there was a snapping turtle once—and the promise of snake soup; yet, I do not think the snake made it as far as the pot.

            Then again, the squirrels and birds stand out so well in my memories because of the process of dressing them out or skinning them.  I know this sounds rather gross for a town girl, but I loved watching my dad and Tom, one of Dad's most frequent hunting buddies, skin squirrels.  Sometimes I got to help.  It was so clean and smooth.  It was like you were taking pajamas off skinny, stretched-out bodies.  Dressing out many kinds of animals can be messy and time consuming, but squirrel skinning seemed to be just the opposite.  No, I have not tried it on my own and probably never will.  I'm too much of a town girl to go hunting on my own.  Besides, I could never spot animals camouflaged in the wild as well or shoot as well as my dad.

            With the birds—doves and quails—and sometimes the frogs, I spent more time with my mom when it came to removing their outer layers.  Dad would bring back gunny sacks full of the day's haul.  Then mom would spread newspapers over the table.  We would then get to work.  This process was nothing like the one described above.  This process was messy, time consuming, and rendered almost as much waste as it did usable meat.  Then there were the feathers.  They would stick to my fingers, occasionally take to the air, and flutter into the bowls with the "clean" breasts of the former birds.  On the bright side, the gizzards were fascinating!  I would ask mom to let me clean the gizzards from her birds as well as mine.  They were smooth and relatively clean; then, if I did it just right, I could gently peel off the stomach bag chock full of grit and foreign matter.  Once in awhile I would open one on another piece of newspaper just to investigate what was inside.  Mom was too busy trying to get through the huge pile on the table to take the time to investigate the inner contents of a quail's gizzard, especially since the overall activity was producing the evening meal's source of protein.  She knew we had to get done, clean up the mess, and then get the frying pan going.

            I believe more farm families than town families have been touched by the true source of their food, but with some changes I am seeing with friends that farm and with town friends that are trying to be natural, this may not always be true.  Yet, the "natural" trend has been around since before the 1970's.  As people try new foods, a frequent question is "What does it taste like?"  A very common answer is "It tastes like chicken."  Amazingly, that is sometimes true, but don't count on it or you might be disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. Great experiences with your family, Gayla! You learned your biology and anatomy in the best hands-on way.
    We plan on hunting the coyotes that plague our chickens. Instead of sending our chickens down to Arthur (Amishland), we will butcher them ourselves for the first time this fall. Wish you were could advise us. :-)
    Our farm here used to have pheasants and other birds galore, but the trees and brush left and so did the birds. (We're trying to fix that).