Friday, 22 August 2014

Cornish Giants

Our family has come to like chicken.
Over the past few years, our friends and neighbours have raised enough to go around.  
This spring we were alarmed to realize that everyone we knew had backed out of raising extra chickens.
On the spot we decided we had little choice but to do it ourselves.
Two dozen came to us in a box not much bigger than a shoebox.  
A day is as much as a year in the life of a meat bird.
Within eight weeks, not a single bird could fit into that box. 

As a bird bred to be juicy tender breast meat,
I was pleased that they seemed prettier and more active than I had expected.
We new it was time to do them in when they had to strain to lift their cheast from the ground.
After walking a few steps they would let their legs collapse with an audible thunk.

We took them apart in the front yard.
The next day I changed gears.
I went to the Ogilvie Mountains where Willow Ptarmigan,
the local counterparts of our Cornish Giants
live at large.
Joe Bishop took this photo.

Monday, 4 August 2014

"Dada's Making Sawdust Again"

Roll a log down the ramp to the mill
Into the sawblade, spinning with the power of 13 horses,
we push it ahead of us at a gentle walking pace.
It eats through the wood: a sharp blade, a smooth cut.
What was round is flattened so it has a defined edge.
The nature of the tree is squared away.
Long slabs of barked wood stacked, bucked and dried.
They'll crackle under syrup in the evaporator in a few seasons.
Flip her so she lies on her new side.
Slice again.
The inner nature is revealed,
the layers of growth,
the eyes where the branches budded,
the pink and red rot of old age.
Flip her again, haul the log dawgs into place and lock her down tight,
walk down her side, slice the full length and pull the saw back.
Warm sawdust spews and we breath in the smells of fresh spruce and gas.
Flip her a fourth time. There's one final strip of wild bark.
She fits now, right up square against the body of the mill. The log dawgs pin her down neatly.
Slice and slice and slice again, reaching deeper towards the heartwood.
The eyes of the Aspens in the yard are watching.