:: on the difficulty of not grossing everyone out ::
Homesteading has rendered me unfit for sophisticated company. I recently went home to northern California to visit my dad and step-mom, who are not of a homesteading bent IN THE LEAST. They are cultured, upcountry wine-tasting folks who attend jazz concerts and own matching imported stemware. I think they struggle to understand what is attractive to me about the homesteading lifestyle, but they are supportive nonetheless, which is what makes them great parents.
For dinner one night, my dad cooked Cornish Game Hen. Without missing a beat, I launched into a lesson in poultry history, informing everyone that Cornish Game Hens are nothing more than very young chickens given a fancy name so they will sell for a higher price. So you’re paying a lot more for much less bird, and it’s just a plain old chicken.
Everyone just stared at me. I realized I should have kept my mouth shut, Part I.
When the plates were served, people remarked on how good the food looked and smelled. I added to the pleasant dining conversation by blurting out, “How on earth could you fit your hand inside this bird to eviscerate it? It’s so tiny!”
“Jessica, really,” my step-mom said.
“Well, look at it. No adult hand would fit inside this pelvic cavity. How did they get all the guts and organs out?” This was a serious question; I was flabbergasted. Having spent a good part of my summer butchering chickens, I had become fairly intimate with the process of preparing a live chicken for the table and I just couldn’t imagine how you would get the job done on a bird this small.
Everyone else looked around uncomfortably and tried to change the subject. But I kept bringing it back to the question on my mind. “Did they use a small machine? Child labor? Leprechauns? How did they get in there?”
My husband is practiced at retrieving me from these meanderings and depositing me back in the middle of mainstream conversation. Or at least getting me out of the room at the right time. I’m sure this is a feature my family loves about him.
“Jessica, why don’t you go see if that hawk is still out back,” he suggested. I realized I should have kept my mouth shut, Part 2.
I should confess that I had this foot-in-mouth skill long before I started homesteading. A couple years ago, I went out with friends for my birthday. My cousin brought her brand new boyfriend, whom we were all meeting for the first time. He mentioned that he had a brother named Nimo, to which I gleefully replied, “Nimo means ‘no one’ in Latin!”
And I realized I should have kept my mouth shut, Part 3.
Sometimes we will be eating dinner with friends and someone will say they don’t like the brown spots near the bone on the chicken meat. And I feel compelled to explain that these spots are the result of blood pooling in the bird when it’s been killed by electrocution. The blood wasn’t allowed to drain quickly, so it settled inside the chicken. If you slit the throat and drain the blood right away, you don’t get these brown spots.
And everyone stares at me, and I realize…et cetera, et cetera.
I know people don’t want to hear about it, but these facts bounce around in my head all day and sometimes I have to let them out. If you bring up queen bees, I just HAVE to tell you that a queen bee mates with up to 25 drones from different hives in one mating flight and then she stores all their sperm inside her body for future use over the next several years. If you say the word armadillo, I have to tell you they can transmit leprosy. If you bring up spiders, I have to describe in detail the enormous egg sac I found when I was checking the mustard seeds, including the fact that it may contain over 1,400 spiderlings that will hatch in the fall but overwinter in the egg sac until spring. And then I have to show you a picture of it.
And yet, I still have friends and my family still lets me come over for dinner occasionally. Maybe when all the dinner guests have gone home, one spouse says to the other, “Why did you invite her?” And it’s their turn to have an “I realized I should have kept my mouth shut” moment.