Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Last Tuesday was chicken slaughtering day.

My extended family all go in on about 40 chickens that we divide between three families, resulting in 10-15 chickens each, depending on what we determine earlier in the season.

I've been involved in this process before, so it was familiar, but nonetheless it is something to behold to see a chicken go from running around to beheaded, scalded, de-feathered, gutted, and trimmed and then plunked in a rinse bucket in all of 5 minutes. In a sort of magical process it goes from animal to food right before our eyes.

I don't exactly savor this process, but I respect it and I do find it fascinating. There is something primal about death and food that is laid out to see in a way that is pretty unusual in my life, and in the lives of most people.

By evening, Nancy is cutting up the chickens and freezing them. We haven't bought much store bought chicken in the last 4 or 5 years since we started doing this.

By the way, Cindy and Ralph, the folks doing the slaughtering travel around the state with their mobile processing trailer. They were featured in a book about the local food renaissance in Hardwick, Vermont called "The Town that Food Saved" by Ben Hewitt. I have not read it, but am looking forward to doing so.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bread and Puppet

Today we went to the Sunday afternoon Bread & Puppet show in Glover, Vermont.

Bread & Puppet is a celebration of life, humanity, humor, radical politics, bread, nature and imagination all expressed in a form of theatrical circuses, pageantry, and plays. Most often, and most dramatically, this happens in the broad fields and woods of the Bread & Puppet farm in northern Vermont. Like many inspirational and creative endeavors it is hard to explain in words, but suffice to say that it, for me, is a deeply inspiring and spiritually/creatively fulfilling experience to see a Bread & Puppet show.

I actually recall going to a Bread & Puppet show at Goddard College when I was either in kindergarten or maybe first grade and mostly I remember being scared by it. Puppets can be like that. I'm sure I enjoyed it a lot too, but being scared is what I remember. It was more or less thirty years before I again saw a Bread & Puppet event.

I recently wrote to a friend about Bread & Puppet:

"I have long had an aversion to hippy-esqe stuff. I knew about Bread & Puppet for years and never went because of just that. I had no interest in this sort of dead-head event that every groovy person I knew went to. When I finally did go, almost by accident, I was completely taken by the experience. Despite what it might seem like, it's lineage is more political German street theatre; almost anarchist in it's semi-sensical political concepts. My earlier misgivings aside, I experience it as a celebration of art, life, and humanity."

Bread & Puppet is something of an institution here in the northeast, having been around for decades and still as funny, immaginative and inspiring as it ever was. Through the eighties and nineties it became something of a major destination in the summer that culminated in a large and out of control multi-day event with fields of campers. Eventually someone died, and that was the end of Bread & Puppet for a while.

But a couple of years later it started back up again as a scaled down and minimally publicized event on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons with no camping. It sort of self corrected back to a manageable size and has remained that way for the last decade or so.

There is a splendor built of simple and wildly immaginative puppets, props, songs, ideas, and costumes that brings a sense of awe and joy to my heart.

God bless Bread & Puppet!