I should have known better. I’m not a newbie at this. Last week a friend offered to get me some fresh butchered chickens at the market since we’d just got back in town. I’d never been to the market here in town and plus I knew I’d get the more expensive price anyway. The chicken was nicely cleaned and it only took me less than a minute or two to chop it into edible portions before turning it into a curry for lunch. My friend offered that when the time came, she could help get more for our return to Taliabo.
I decided to get a jump on the chicken and have her order it so I could split it up into portioned bags for our menu and freeze it ahead of time. I’m trying out a new menu to accommodate feeding our helpers and yard workers, so it needed some tweaking. She said her friend told her about a different market that was cheaper, so she decided to order from there. So, this morning a huge bag of butchered chickens was delivered straight to my kitchen.
When I opened the bag, my heart sank. Why were they frozen? The entire reason I bought them from the market is that they’d be fresh and not frozen and thawed multiple times like at the supermarkets! Well, only the top 8 were frozen, so I breathed a sigh of relief and started pulling out chickens from the bottom since I couldn’t chop the frozen ones yet.
After about 15 minutes, all of my ziplock bags were labeled and ready. I had also asked that the liver, head, and feet still be included since I like to use those for soup. I grabbed my cleaver and started. This wasn’t my first rodeo, like I’d said, so I knew what cuts I wanted. I only took me one chicken to realize this wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d hoped. My first clue was the poop that squirted out on my hand has I was checking to see if they’d cleaned the bottom well. Gag! So, I cut that part out and moved along to the upper part of the bird only to realize the crop was still intact and full of slimy corn mash. I had planned on about an hour, but with all of the extra maneuvering around to remove the crop and the bottoms, I managed about 8 birds in an hour and the baby was already awake and needing to be fed.
I fed the baby and then Payton whisked her away so I could be alone with my chickens. 20 more chicken carcasses stared at me from the sink and countertop. I peeked into the bag of “extras” hoping for something a bit quicker. Instead I found no heads, only gizzards, hearts, and livers with bile leaked all over them. I closed the bag in defeat and went back to my cleaver reminding myself to pay attention because I did not want to lose a finger. Bits of raw meat splattered my shirt and arms and I wanted to cry. I could feel the tropical temperature starting to rise as my energy slowly drained as stared at all of those empty ziplocks waiting to be filled. In that moment, the familiar nudge of the Holy Spirit reminded me that this moment was important. My joy was being stolen. This time, it wasn’t threatened by visa troubles or long plane rides or transition fatigue. This time, it was chicken crops and bottoms. I had a choice. I could remove the crops and the final digestive sphincters (if you get my drift) heartily as to the Lord, or I could wallow in self-pity for however many hours this took.
Thankfully, due to the gentle reminder of the Holy Spirit, I was able to turn that moment around and chop up chicken with a grateful heart for the next two hours. And the defrosted ones were properly cleaned so they took me a fraction of the time to cut up! I was glad when the splatter and stink was gone from my kitchen. I didn’t even bother to beat myself up for making such a newbie mistake of assuming something would turn out to be easy-peasy. And yes, I know they will cut it for you at the market. And yes, I know I could have waited and had someone else do it. But, God decided He was going to use chicken crops and bottoms to work in my heart, so if it wasn’t that, it would have been something else. I’m just glad the birds are in the freezer and my joy is intact.