Last Days of El Diablo
While recovering from my travel overkill in Central Oregon, I finally had a lot of time for myself. Sleeping in my own room and bed for a while was highly appreciated. Apart from reading, acting out my internet deprivation, working on my social media channels and looking after various cats, dogs and chickens, I got to do a lot of outdoor sports. Be it running, mountain biking or rock climbing, I was far from getting bored in the last few weeks. Butchering El Diablo, the mad neighbors rooster, was a welcome addition in the mix that made my time in Oregon very memorable…
Right after arriving in Terrebonne, I’m left alone on the property to pet sit three cats and a dog in my new transitional home. Taking care of the animals is a nice little routine that gives me reason to get up in the morning and make use of the whole day. Unfortunately, my suitability for the job is tested on the third day. I find dog Casey lying in front of his bowl in the morning, refusing to eat. He just lays there on the kitchen floor, unable to even stand up. He is breathing heavily and sneezing out some blood from time to time. After calling a veterinarian friend in Germany, I’m left with only one option. I drive Casey to the vet in Bend and hope for the best. In the evening it’s still unclear what’s wrong with him and so I have to take him to the emergency clinic to stay overnight. Finally, they find out that he has pneumonia, resulting in a septic shock that almost took his life.
It remains the only negative event in Smith Rock and the next few weeks go by quickly. I enjoy sitting on a saddle again while smashing down some mountain bike trails with Thomas and learn to climb in the State Park with Sierra (the generous owner of the property).
When Sierra’s neighbors leave for a two weeks trip to Europe, I become chief pet sitter and gardener for their property. Besides a dog and two cats, there’s a flock of chickens and two roosters to take care of. I was warned about El Diablo, the mean one of the two roosters but it took until the day he attacked me to make our relationship personal. With hatred in his eyes he comes running towards me, ready to drill his beak into my skull. Just in time I put him to flight by extending my arms to full length and roaring my most frightening war cry at him. Terrified he retreats slowly, obviously thinking of a better way to get rid of me in the future.
But I’m not going down without a fight, bleeding to death after a mad roosters attack behind the chicken coop. El Diablo’s days have come to an end. Since we processed two emus and a kangaroo back in 2009 in Australia, I’ve wanted to go through the whole process again to remember where those frozen pieces of meat in the supermarket are coming from (or should be coming from) and appreciate the taste of meat that had actually lived a happy life.
Since the owners had given me full permission to strike back in case of an attack, I feel that the time has come to throw myself yet into another valuable out-of-the-ordinary experience. After a bit of convincing I find accomplices in Thomas and Martina and so we meet El Diablo at high noon outside the saloon. No I’m just kidding…it’s actually the chickens coop!
Following a game of tag, a well-directed blow with the shovel to the head knocks the devil out. Quickly we move him onto a piece of wood to decapitate him. We had arranged everything beforehand to make sure this part is fast and painless for him. After his head is chopped off we hang him upside down into a tree to bleed out. Next I dip him into a pot of steaming hot water to make the plucking process easier. A few minutes later El Diablo is naked and only half his previous size. What follows is the nasty part. First I open his neck to remove the crop from his chest. Then I cut an opening between pelvis and cloaca to stick most of my forearm inside the bird’s cavity. Delicious! Carefully I remove all the organs, making sure not to tear the intestinal tract. Finally we cut off his feet and give him a thorough rinse with cold water before putting him into the fridge for a few days to tenderize his old meat.
A few days later I put the dead rooster into the Slow Cooker and let him simmer with some fresh spices from the garden for about 10 hours. After that I remove the meat from the bones (I’ll keep them to make chicken stock) and put the meat back into the Slow Cooker. It’s now time to add some more vegetables and then dinner is finally ready. I’ll call it the “Smith Rock Devil Stew”!