Backyard Adentures


Six weeks ago today, I had a bit of an unfortunate accident. Be warned: this post is a little graphic, may not be suitable for vegetarians, and is a little lengthy. Proceed with discretion…

It was a sunny day in the middle of winter with a forecast of 55 degrees for the high. It seemed like the best day of the week to pick up and dispatch four unwanted roosters from my dad’s house…


“Thank you for your life. Bless you,” I thought silently as I got ready to cut the chicken’s neck. For a split second I worried that my knife wasn’t sharp enough, so I purposely wrenched down on the chicken’s neck to make sure I delivered a swift end. As I cut, I saw the blade of my knife slice through the flesh of my own finger. I saw the skin separate and my blood begin to mix with that of the chicken. In a surprisingly calm and matter of fact tone, I said, more to myself than my neighbor, M, who was assisting me, “I just cut my finger.” I instantly dropped the knife, grabbed the chicken’s head with my uninjured hand and handed it to her. “Here, hold this. I’m going to go inside.”

As I ran around the house, my thoughts started speeding; it went something like this: What have I just done? Shit, I have three more roosters to do. How bad is it? What am I going to do? I don’t want to go to the emergency room. Oh, shit! Shit. SHIT! And then, I just kept telling myself over and over, “I’m okay. I. Am. Okay.”


Now, I know a cut finger is not a super serious accident in the whole scheme of things, but I am not good in emergency situations, especially where blood is involved. Usually, I just fall to pieces and start crying. But my husband was not at home and I knew I had to keep it together. I focused on telling myself “I am okay,” rather than letting my mind conjure up the possibilities of all the horrible outcomes and ‘what ifs’.


I did not watch as I ran my finger under the running water. I kept repeating my mantra. I wrapped my finger up tightly in a cloth napkin, grabbed a phone book, and went back outside. Feeling a little lightheaded, I plopped down on the ground and tried desperately to find my doctor’s phone number in the yellow pages of the phone book. It felt like a bad dream in which I was trying repeatedly to perform a specific task, but was unable to complete it. My brain couldn’t focus on finding things in books at that moment. M, still holding the chicken’s neck, whipped out her phone and promptly found the number for my doctor.


I should mention here that this was my second meeting with my new neighbor and she is also not good in emergency situations where blood is involved. So here she was, holding a slaughtered chicken, intent on keeping it from flapping about, instead of focusing the dire situation unfolding around her. Meanwhile, I was trying to pretend to have everything under control while wondering how I could have been so careless… Poor girl! I know she was mortified.


As it was after hours at his office, Dr. T made a house call. How Little House on the Prairie is that? At that point, I didn’t know how badly I had cut my finger. I kind of knew it was bad, but I still hadn’t taken a good look at it because I knew that would make me freak out. But then again, I freak out very easily over bodily injuries, so I wasn’t sure if it even needed any medical attention. I told all this to Dr. T before he even looked at it. I also told him that I didn’t want to know how bad it was, I just wanted to know if I needed urgent care. He cleaned and bandaged my finger and notified me that I would definitely need to come in first thing the next morning for stitches. I gave him some deer meat and thanked him for coming, thus saving me trip to the ER.


The worst part was over by the time my husband got home. The neighbor and I had already pardoned the other three roosters and put them in a pen, my finger was tucked away inside a bright white bandage, and I was high on adrenaline. I’m pretty sure I told him rather enthusiastically with a smile on my face the events that had just unfolded. He helped us clean and finish up our little project and M graciously took the dressed chicken home with her to cook and share with us at a later time.


I have to say that I was proud of myself for not falling to pieces in this situation. There are two reasons I believe I was able to do this: no one else was here to catch me and the power of positive thought.


I had actually just finished reading a book called “Quantum Healing” by Deepak Chopra in which the author explains the importance of understanding that the human body is all connected. If a person is depressed, he says, then all the parts of the entire body (including cells) are depressed. If a person is anxious or nervous, then his/her cells are jittery, too. He explains how powerful our brain is at controlling and/or communicating with the rest of our body and how our thoughts affect this immensely. If you believe you are well, then, that does a lot more good and benefits your survival a lot more than believing you are dying from a terrible disease. So, I had all that information swimming around in my head during my finger incident. I chose to believe it was all okay. I didn’t panic. I didn’t see stars and pass out. And although it has been sore, it only really hurt for about a day. I ended up with seven stitches and it was still okay. I think it would’ve hurt more and maybe healed more slowly if I allowed myself to get all upset.


So, yes, I was proud that I had managed to stay strong, both mentally and physically, but I guess emotions sometimes need to be let go. A week later, after the giant bandage came off, I was able to see the wound. I was standing in front of the fireplace and I was looking at my bruised, swollen finger with the black, spidery stitches and I suddenly felt a welling up in my solar plexus and felt nauseous. I burst into tears for no good reason. My husband hugged me and I sobbed really hard for a few seconds and then, as suddenly as it came over me, it went away. I guess the emotions I pushed out of the way when the accident happened were still inside my body or brain somewhere and they needed to get out. It was a profound moment…


My finger is still healing now. I’m eager to see the scar that will be left; the visual record of this entire story imprinted on my body. It will remind me to pay attention to where my hands are before making a cut. I will remember that M ended up making slow roasted rooster burritos and it was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. I will remember that I was the weirdo with three pet roosters for six weeks whose names were Speckles, Bigfoot, and Willie Nelson. The names of my friends are recorded there, too; friends who brought me flowers, candy, and whiskey. and I’ll be forever grateful to C for finishing off two of the extra roosters (only Bigfoot remains) and providing me with three laying hens (maybe egg production is the safer way to go). I confess, it might be some time before I am ready to engage in any more backyard poultry processing adventures.

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