I spent last week in the woods of Ohio at Harold Artist's Residency Program. I brought Georgia, my Barred Rock hen with me to assist in leading a workshop on chicken butchering. I attended the local produce auction and met a friendly Amish woman, named Verna, who offered to teach me how to harvest and gut chickens on her family's farm.
Two days later I woke early and made my way to the Amish farm (gladly accompanied by fellow artist, Claire Pentecost). Four hours, many stories, countless life lessons learned, and 20 slaughtered chickens later I had had a much better education on how to butcher chickens than all my library books and youtube videos had provided for me. I returned to the tree farm where I was staying and held Georgia for a while. This moment encouraged me to contemplate gravity of the entire concept, of not only this project, but how and why we live the lifestyles we do in these times.
Two more days later I led a workshop with fourteen fellow artists, two local farmers and six (then live) chickens. This workshop revealed the often secret, at least not common knowledge practice, of chicken butchering and roasting. John, a Chesterhill local, built an awesome spit that we used to roast the chickens whole over the open fire. We ended the workshop with fulfilled sprits and very happy bellies.
One thing this project continues to reveal to me is that people are often the best resources we have for learning about our food. As an aspiring librarian, I can't help but initially gravitate to conventional sources of information: books and the Internet. However, in each of these Big Neighborhood Supper workshops I have learned exponentially more information about a particular subject matter from the humans involved in the project than the books or the Internet. This inspires me to reconsider what, or whom, I consult for information, especially information about where my food is coming from.