It’s mid-October and a full moon and Momma Goose is on the front deck calling, “Is anybody home?” She has come bearing a gift. Six-and-a-half weeks ago she gave us Kimber and the Seven Chicks, newly hatched. Today it is a welding sculpture she’s made, a functional tool rack made from horseshoes shaped into a trophy head configuration she calls Bruce the Moose. I love it and laugh. She can do names, Welcome signs, anything we want. The Bearded One and I thank her profusely and both envision it on the barn wall.
“It’ll be just me and the boys on the 22nd,” Momma Goose says, reminding us of the turkey harvesting and processing she’s invited us to. Her husband has to work. In just over a week, I think, I will be killing a turkey, dressing it out, then bringing it home to eat. I can do this. I want to do this. Don’t I? This is all about upping our learning curve so we can do it with our own chickens. Eventually.
“It’s tricky dangerous to give those chicks names,” she advises me when I tell her that one of the Steves tried to crow this week. The Bearded One is betting that almost all the chicks are cockerels, and will thus be culled (which sounds a lot like killed) when they reach full growth, which is in the next month or so. “We’ll process them for you, if it’s too hard.”
Hell’s bells, we eat chicken; I believe in slow, local, sustainable food production as opposed to factory farms and all the hidden costs of cheap meat. But the truth is I am still buying factory chicken. Six at a time. This is starting to feel a bit lazy on my part, I realize. Momma Goose doesn’t judge me. I like that a lot.
She bids us adieu, and I get a big knife and harvest the biggest zucchini we have, the one we let grow all summer just to see how big it would get. It’s about a foot long and 6 inches in diameter, not really all that big this year. I have to saw through the stem. Zucchini skin gets thick and tough with age. I cut it open, admire the still-creamy insides. Chickens, I think, are not zucchini. I feel the weight of the knife in my hand.
On my way to the chickens, I pass by the pumpkin patch. Nine big speckly pumpkins are clearly visible now, orange seeping through the dark green. Dying leaves wither on the disintegrating stems. Twenty pound pumpkins, maybe 25.
I remember Linus in the “Peanuts” comic strip and his fervent belief that every year on Halloween night, when all the kids are trick-or-treating, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the most “sincere” pumpkin patch and flies around the world giving toys to the most sincere children.
The farmlet, I decide, including this pumpkin patch, will not be sufficiently sincere until I wean myself from cheap chicken. Okay, Great Pumpkin, I say, sincerely. I can do that.
I hear Her reply in my mind –” If you can catch one”.