All Hands on Deck!
In Naval terms, (we are a Naval Veteran family afterall!), it means EVERYONE who is available needs to come and help.
Hands is another word for the sailors onboard and the deck is the "floor" of the ship. In heavy storms and seas or another emergency the Captain may yell all hands on deck; meaning all sailors are needed on the deck to help navigate through a storm.
The kids have learned that an "All Hands on Deck" evolution means we are all working tonight, perhaps all night. It's always referred to for our chicken processing nights. But also, when there is an emergency, like when the cows were out earlier this week. It means stop what you are doing, someone will watch the little kids, and the rest of us will be working for Dad on the emergency until resolved.
It happens. Probably more than we'd like to admit.
We process chicken every three weeks during the summer and the kids know, on chicken processing nights, that means no video games, everyone has an assigned task, we all move without discussion into our roles and start the work. Jareth unpacks, washes and organizes. Dan runs the vacuum sealing and weighs. Giana manages the store, updates inventories and quality checks. Jaylen takes the beautiful photos you see in the store, runs the label maker and does countless trips up and down he stairs to stock the freezers. The little ones, only 6 year olds Jesse and Joy, run up and down the stairs and peel labels until bedtime at 8pm. On chicken processing nights, they know they put themselves to bed.
80's music jams late into the night on chicken processing nights. It's ok since we don't have close neighbors.
The older kids sing and dance to Eye of the Tiger, Livin' on a Prayer, Tusk, What's Love Got to Do With It?, Eyes without a Face, and Land Down Under... they know all the lyrics after all the chicken processing nights we've had.
It's how the All Hands on Deck works. Loud 80's tunes, hard work, jokes, fellowship, funny stories and more hard work.
It's how we feed our friends and neighbors, it's preparation for the winter when we won't be raising chickens. We talk about the flock and how they were wonderful birds. We are thankful for them and the protein they will give us for the months to come.
We are blessed. This is the best time of our lives, and these are the memories our kids will cherish.
Tomorrow, you will all show up on the farm and pick up your fresh never frozen chicken, your packages of pristine chicken breasts, leg and thighs, wings and backs. You'll notice our eyes are little tired and we are moving a little slower.
The day after one of these evolutions we always pray for 'calmer seas' and delight in the friendly faces of grateful customers who stop by to pick up, and send us pictures of their dinners.
Thanks for reading, and thank you, for trusting us to grow your food.
With much love,
Your Sailor turned Farmer.