Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Wine is the Juice of Life"

It was a rough morning following the evening of Mr. Fawkes. It had been a bit chilly in the night, but I awoke to discover about 5 more blankets below my sleeping bag (a realization that would prove to be helpful in my future nights' sleep). We awoke around 7:20AM and went to the common room to have some breakfast. At around 8:00AM we began walking toward the Farm Stay. Although we were technically Anna's volunteers, she had been "lending us" to the Farm Stay to help with the olive harvest. The Farm Stay is a place for guests as opposed to Via Piana which is a place that is being built to one day be for guests. There were three volunteers at the Farm Stay, Olga, Theresa, and Jennifer (aka Sophie) who we met once we arrived.

We met up with Giuseppe and the others and began picking olives. It was pretty simple, really. There is an olive tree, then a net that is spread out on the ground at the base of the tree. Then, you use your hands or a small rake to remove the olives from the tree. When the olives are off the tree, you pour them into a crate, and you move onto the next one! We did this for about 4 hours before returning to the main building for lunch. We were served pasta with fish, Baccala (salt cod), and plentiful amounts of Giuseppe's wine. I'm telling you, I have never had wine like this in my life! It puts Massimo's wine to shame…almost to a degree that would embarrass a grape, itself.

After lunch, Giuseppe asked us if we would like to watch him kill a chicken. Felipe sat this one out, but Jake, Chris, and I gave it a go. I have always felt that you should know where you food comes from, and how it gets to you, and I wanted to stay true to that. I expected one of two things to happen:
1. For Giuseppe to snap the chicken's neck, and drop it to the ground where it would flop around for a bit before laying still or
2. For Giuseppe to cut the head off with an axe, after which the chicken with writhe like a fish out of water for a bit before laying still.
Well, instead, I saw option 3.

Giuseppe pulls a burlap sack out of a trash can where you can hear the clucking begin. He pulls out a chicken and carries it by it's feet to a large stump. He picks up a small, rusted axe and with a swift motion, strikes the bird in the neck. He then throws it to the side and picks up the next. The first chicken, head half on, is flopping beside us. No, not flopping…flipping. It is flipping in circles about a foot into the air, flapping it's wings, and somehow still making noise. After about a minute of this, I had to leave. The chicken had not stopped moving, and it was far too much for me. Needless to say, the chicken did not taste very good to me at lunch the next day.

We walked with Chris to The Mogli to help with the cleanup from the festivities of the previous night. He told us stories of killing wild boar which, while relatively disturbing, helped us to understand what had happened with the chickens. We all agreed that while it wasn't a pleasant experience, it is something we were glad we witnessed for the sake of food. After cleaning up the area, we headed back to Via Piana. We still had half the day at our disposal, and none of it required picking chestnuts.

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