Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, by Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter
I can’t help it, killing is simply something I do. Some people golf or enjoy a few rounds of Balderdash now and then.
I get a certain primal satisfaction out of it. Sometimes my hubby joins me in creating carnage. Surely there’s some saying about “The couple who slays together, stays together?” If not, there should be a saying about matrimonial odds of the couple who raises livestock together without slaying each other.
The dispatching part is only a small facet of the entire experience. It’s the most dramatic part, but not really the part that keeps me keeping birds around the house. My carnal pursuit requires a delightful amount of ritual, and there is a stark beauty to the process.
First, there’s the gathering of the proper tools. The axe my hubby scored on eBay is indispensable. It’s a handsome antique implement of gore whose gently curved blade sharpens strong and silvery. The sheath is genuine leather with cedar-colored sinew laces that crisscross the handle, hinting at a dark, ancient, Viking past.
The belly and back of the handle are perfectly balanced at the grip point. As I contemplate the deed I’m compelled to commit, I study the rise and fall of my swing, noting that it feels sturdy and natural in my hand. When the time is right, I know it will land swift and sure.
The toolbox of carnage also includes a several knives, a practical steel sharpener, a scraper and a well-crafted slip noose. Any truly gruesome job requires tidiness, so a sturdy spade shovel, bleach and old towels are always on hand.
We might be killers, but even killing has a certain code of ethics. After our tools are properly assembled, we thoughtfully evaluate our potential victims, generally the old and slow, but sometimes we target juicier fare. Anonymity is vital. We deliberately don’t assign anyone a pet name. It’s much easier that way.
For years this has worked, except when it hasn’t. There was the case of Baby Girl, whose gentle, trusting nature spared her for years. Now there’s Stella. Sweet Stella. Named after Stellaluna, the storybook character who was a little lost orphan, adopted by bats. In the story, Stellaluna was always a little out of place but couldn’t figure out why, until she discovered she was actually a bird.
Our Stella was spared last year’s slaughter and has since spent a lot of time among the chickens. She’s broken two roosts with her enormousness, and some days I think she even runs a little like a chicken. Despite this subterfuge, there’s no denying it — she’s an honest-to-goodness, gizzard-packing gobbler. With Thanksgiving lurking around the corner, we’ve been eying our big-breasted baster and tastefully considering our options. After pricing free-range, organic poultry, it’s not looking good for Stella.
Then again, turkey generally goes on sale around Thanksgiving, and even serial killers have to take a day off.
Golf, anyone? A round of Balderdash, perhaps?
- Grounds for staying married: Agreeing that a couple of big meat chickens would suffice for the Thanksgiving feast.
Jacki Michels is a freelance writer who lives (and loves) in Soldotna.