This post is not for the squeamish.   I hope I’ve managed to gently offend a couple folks here these last months, otherwise what good is a blog?  If I haven’t, here’s one that goes that extra mile.

Handy hubby, this one I owe to him.  This man’s got serious skills!  He assures me among Southern men, at least 80% can do it.  But he and I both originate from Chicago.  There, and most other places in America, the percentage surely hovers closer to 25%, tops.  In any case, I am standing in awe.   Handy Hubby, t-shirt now splattered with blood (did he wear white on purpose?), gun still strapped to his belt, an axe and an array of various sized knives and a cleaver on the counter next to him, which he had sharpened last night in preparation,  has between the hours of 8 am and 12, again impressed me in is handy-hubbiedness.  I have witnessed a pig trapped, heard him shot, knew him to be gutted and skinned elsewhere, heavens be praised, then watched him slaughtered and then butchered.  My sole responsibility in the process?  Bag and tag.  Brilliant!

I’ve handled fish the size of large mammals after being freshly caught and cleaned in Alaska, but the feeling of a boar left me less, let’s say, elated.   It was not the feeling of the freshly slaughtered flesh, which was surprisingly similar to a really enormous salmon, but which is distinctly different from store-bought.  Reminds me of Jell-O.

And it was not the butcher shop smell that soon overwhelmed the kitchen though the windows were open and fans fully employed; the odor was not at all offensive, not the heavy musk and rot like in the Spanish charcuterie, where the pig trotters dangle from the ceilings.  And, like the finest Iberico ham, the color was beautiful, rich red and uniform in its leanness, with a taste that seemed to me closer to duck than to the pork we get from the supermarket.

And it was not that I felt bad for his life, exactly, because wild pig in these parts are considered vermin, not unlike the rat of New York city streets, an invasive species.  What was it then that made this feel so much less thrilling to me?  Maybe because, the fish, I knew I could tackle it, and did, (though with the skill of a child).

This is in fact the ideal win-win.  Handy hubby gets a manly satisfaction out of at least some of the process as well as the fact that he has now fed his little family for free for some months and should a mass welcome disaster close all the Wal-marts out here, he has just proven to us and himself that he can control his environment, a true alpha male feat.

Despite all this, I cannot put my finger on it, I wish we’d caught a fish.  While I watched handy hubby hack away at femur bones with a cleaver, I could only think, “Thank you all on Earth and in the Heavens who have conspired together in the blessed result that, this is not “my job.”

I don’t want to think of it as a sexist stereotype, but of course it is.  Even in the South I do not have to pretend to know or like guns, or skinning, gutting, butchering and well, pretty much anything terribly disgusting .  I consider that a true gift.  Contradictory I know, me, all espousing on autonomy, the heart of homesteading.  But I beam at the knowledge that I can I can observe this ritual from a curious distance, and enjoy the pretty-smelling side that comes out the other end of the process, when it is roasting in the oven.

This gift comes just in time for my upcoming birthday.  And I have another one to boot:   Where last year I was clubbing in Florida with the fab girls of my family, this time I will be alone in my garden shoveling 4,000 pounds of mushroom compost.

Amazing what can change in a year.

A win-win all the way around

A win-win all the way around

Sunday BBQ YES!

Sunday BBQ YES!

Before: A perfectly manageable size

Before: A perfectly manageable size he says

After: Here's where I come in

After: Here's where I come in