Chicken Dry, Chicken Pie
A standard weeknight of bathing a chicken before dinner
It was the hour before sunset and I was finishing up the evening chores with the dogs. Gibson and Friday did their usual meandering about the barnyard. Gibson methodically focusing on one rooster to “herd” in circles. Friday stuck beside me like burdock, hoping we’d get to run down the path in the woods before dark so she could sniff out her mortal enemy: Fox. The sky was flecked with a few clouds and the air was cold, but nothing a sweater couldn’t handle.
It was a normal November evening. All the livestock were quiet because they were busy chewing. A magical time on a farm when silence is understood contentment and all is well with the world.
My own dinner was in the works. I had a tray of veggies I’d spent a total of 5 minutes chopping and shoving in the 425°oven while I was out closing up the joint for the night. I’m proud of the farm’s potato harvest this year. I pulled two big blokes out of their covered storage basket, sliced a few carrots and onions, and then dumped a frozen bag of broccoli (still coated with ice) beside them on a cookie tray. A quick sprinkle of olive oil and some roast-chicken seasoning and into the stove they went.
The big plan, post chores, was to dump all of these cooked veggies in a pre-made pie crust with leftovers from a roasted chicken, pour some gravy on it, and bake it until the crust was golden and chicken hot. That’s as extravagant as a solo weeknight dinner gets around here, and since I usually only eat one meal a day, I was really looking forward to it.
Chicken pie on my mind, I glanced around the property before heading inside. Merlin the fell pony and Mabel the paint mare were happily eating their evening hay. The sheep on the hill were doing the same with Cade (the goat) beside them. The pigs were quietly munching on their feed from the local granary, mixed with a few pumpkins leftover from this year’s patch. The chickens were mingling just outside their coop pecking at scratch grains, their evening snack before roosting for the night.
All things well, I grabbed the last of the water I needed to haul and headed towards the sheep hill. In a few minutes I’d be warm inside again, ready for my post-chore ritual of tea and yoga. I was exhausted and nothing helps me wind down a day like rolling out my mat, lighting a scented candle, and putting on a quick 25-minute yoga class from Underbelly. After that quiet time, I enjoy a big hot meal and watching something splendid. Baby, I was born to be in my forties.
I was pouring the last five-gallon bucket of water into the flock’s trough when I heard the muffled stress yammering of a hen? It was the kind of sound you hear when there’s a hawk soaring over the farm or everyone’s worked up because someone laid an egg (I have no idea why this is a call for group celebration every time, but I’m also not a chicken). I looked in the direction of the lonely cry. Walking towards me was the most pathetic, muddy, hen you’ve ever seen.
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