Making An Entrance
I got up shortly after and got dressed. Outside there was a big dog crate of four fat roosters. They spent the night in confinement so their stomaches would be empty for their date with Ben Shaw. Now, you may think four roosters wasn't worth the effort of a trip to the abattoir, but these guys were not your average-sized cocks. These were Magnums, easily weighing in around ten pounds a piece. Most of them Freedom Rangers who escaped capture earlier this summer and had a full autumn to keep putting on weight and grow even larger. But now the boys of summer had hit that plateau where more food doesn't equal more meat and it was time for Freezer Camp. The monsters had their date with destiny and I had plans for a roast dinner Friday night with company.
After feeding the horses, goats, and sheep, waking up the pigs with slops and new grain, and throwing some scratch down for the chickens—I drove the truck around back where the crate was waiting by the coop. I hauled it up into the bed and Gibson and I headed up over the mountain towards Greenwich. It was a fifteen minute drive to Ben Shaw's family farm and I passed an old coworker's home along the way. Her Subaru was warming up in her driveway and soon she'd be heading the opposite direction I was going to her desk at Orvis. I felt a pang I didn't expect to feel. I don't regret a thing about quitting my day job or my life at Cold Antler now—but it was like stepping back in time into a past life for a second. Getting that sense-memory shock of the early morning civilized commute. I would be all showered, in a nice outfit, heading into a long day of design, laughter, friends and lunch breaks with dogs and ponds. It was in no way a bad scene. But now I was in a giant black wool sweater and cap, flecked with hay and certainly not showered. I had oily hair in braids and an empty stomach. There was no just-ironed cardigan and steel thermos of coffee. I made a little sign of blessing and drove on past, putting it behind me. I had a mission in mind.
You would think roosters in transit in the back bed of a truck going 40 MPH along country roads wouldn't want to crow. You'd be wrong. The four tenors crooned the entire drive. They crowed at dairy farmers moving cows. They crowed at kids waiting at bus stops. They crowed at a cop waiting to catch speeders. They crowed at Gibson, who watched them whining out the back window. And when we got to the town of Greenwich and stopped at Stewart's (our local chain of gas station/mini marts) they crowed there too. We pulled into the blue-collar gossip hub with hay flying and roosters making like their voices were their last-chance auditions for a life on Broadway. Construction crews eating their donuts laughed, folks driving kids to school pointed. I just got coffee. Talk about making an entrance….
I arrived at Ben's place and unloaded the birds. He said it was a twenty dollar minimum charge and I could come back in half an hour. I agreed, deciding that I just paid three dollars for a coffee and seltzer, so an other two to have someone do a job that would take me an entire morning to complete (and an unpleasant job at that) and headed into town to get some provisions. I went to the grocery store and bought one of those aluminum cheap turkey pans for the big roos and when I checked out the woman clerk said, conversationally, "Oh, you cooking a turkey this week!" and I said no, that I had this for a chicken big enough to fit in there and she just nodded the way you nod at crazy people to make them go away. I had a wolfish smile at that, and told her thanks and good morning.
So how did it turn out? Well those four roosters weighed in at over thirty pounds! I picked them up and it felt like I was hauling off a bag of kibble. Now, I just paid fifty dollars for half a lamb with Patty and Mark and that didn't even come in at half the weight of those fowl. I was happy as I could be to hand Ben's daughter a crisp twenty and load up my truck with my groceries, meat, and giant turkey pan. The ride home was quieter, and when I passed the neighbor's empty driveway I didn't feel anything.
Change is good.
Roast chicken dinner is great.