**DISCLAIMER: If you decide to read this post then you too will know entirely too much about high-efficiency chicken slaughtering. You've been warned.**
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me use the hashtag #happypantsreno when talking about the contractor we hired to do our renovation (I kept my maiden name when The Remix and I got married so we adopted "Happypants" as our communal last name). I interviewed four contractors and immediately fell in construction-love with Handy*. He’s awesome. Like, the most awesome of all the awesomes. Anyway, he started about three weeks ago and since then, I’ve been trying to finish my latest manuscript while being distracted by loud noises and the unexpected comedy show happening behind my living room couch (where I spend most of my day
watching Jersey Shore reruns writing).
(*names have been changed because I live in a small town)
Handy’s probably somewhere in his early-mid forties and his apprentice, named Junior, is about twenty. The dynamic between the two of them is hysterical and I find myself losing huge chunks of time just listening to them and trying not to laugh too hard.
Handy: Hey Junior! Come over here and take a look at this! That’s a thing of beauty right there, Junior!
Junior: Well come over here and take a look at this! That’s how you do that! What fireplace? (there’d been a fireplace there before and Junior had finished drywalling over
Side Note: "That's a thing of beauty right there" is Handy's catch-phrase and both Handy and Junior yell it at each other anywhere from 5 - 20 times a day. And I love it. Each and every time.
Plumber to Handy: It’s really hard to find reliable help.
Handy: I know.
Junior: Um, Handy. I think he was talking to me.
Junior: Am I making you randy, Handy?
Handy: no response.
Junior: Whoa! I almost cut off my thumb, there!
Handy: Better than your finger.
Junior also occasionally sings along to the radio. And he also likes to talk to Pickle. Over the last few weeks, we’ve realized that we have similar senses of humour so
I beg them to talk to me we end up having a couple of small conversations a
Last Friday of last week, though, my chattiness wrote a cheque that my psyche couldn't cash.
Handy and Junior were cleaning up at the end of the day, which is when I asked them what their plans were for the weekend. Junior said he was going kayaking while Handy said that he was learning how to slaughter chickens. I laughed, thinking he was making a joke. He wasn’t. I wished him luck and then told The Remix that Handy probably wouldn’t be in on Monday on account of the intensive psychotherapy he’d have to start after spending the weekend slaughtering chickens. The Remix laughed but I could tell he thought my statement had some merit.
On Monday, I was genuinely surprised to see Handy pull up. Here's what happened:
Me: So Handy, guess you didn’t do the slaughtering considering you’re here and not in a mental institution.
Handy: *Laughs* No mental institution, but I did do the slaughtering.
Me (not wanting any more information): Oh, well okay then. Have a good morning. Let me know when you want some water.
Handy: It really wasn’t what I thought it’d be.
Me (suspecting he was going to tell me what happened and therefore, trying to end the conversation before it actually started but realizing that it probably wasn't going to happen but still having to try anyway): Okay then, well that’s cool. Oh, is that the phone ringing? I should probably go inside.
Handy: Is it? I don't hear anything. So, it was set up like an assembly line, with tables all around a room. There were 150 chickens there and we were going to slaughter 100. I got there in the afternoon and they’d already done about 60.
Me (internally, picturing a room full of chickens watching other chickens get slaughtered):
Me (externally): Oh, I didn't know that's how chickens were slaughtered.
Handy: Oh yes. That's how they can kill so many in one day. The first table is where the farmer rests the bodies without the heads. Then they go to the next table, which wasn’t so much a table as an area for the bodies to be hung so the blood can drain out.
Me (internally, trying unsuccessfully not to imagine what a table full of draining chicken bodies would look like):
Me (externally): Well that sounds....efficient.
Me (externally): Rip the flesh? No that'd be awful. Rotating rubber fingers makes good sense.
Handy: I was at the next station, where I pulled off the extra feathers. Then I brought the bodies over to the boiler.
Me (internally, if someone asked me to be the extra-feather-puller and mover-of-feather-less-bodies to the boiling table):
Me (externally): So…err…did you get to take any chickens home with you?
Handy: Five. But you can’t freeze them right away. There’s some kind of bacteria that breaks the meat down and it’s better to wait 48-hours before freezing or the meat won’t be as tender.
Me (internally, now completely and utterly traumatized):
**This conversation may not be a verbatim account, due to my traumatized state when it first happened, but it's as close as I could remember. Rest assured, though, my emotional response is quite accurate.**
So, although the renovation is going extremely well, and it's been mostly good times, there have been some bumps in the road. Mostly made by dead chicken carcasses. Also, I'm realizing that this may have had something to do with me thinking that a pal's Twitter avatar was a chicken head, when in fact, it was a soft-serve ice cream cone. Obviously the trauma has embedded itself much farther into my subconscious than I first thought.
*redials hospital hotline*