The Story of an Unfortunate Grouse, Clever Cat, Skilled Boy, and Brave Mother

I realize my title to this story sounds somewhat like a legend. But then again, who’s to say it won’t be? Well perhaps at least one around our family table.

I also fully realize I labeled myself as “Brave” in these headlines, and that to some my awarding of this title may be misplaced. But being brave isn’t having no fear at all- it’s having a fear and yet doing it anyways. Overcoming. Or so I’ve been told. With this out of the way, I will begin my tale.

It was a bright morning. December 3rd. Snow had finally come covering all in its perfect white. The air had settled from its deep cold temper tantrum- and was pleasantly calm around -1.

The kids plodded in their boots through the fresh snow towards the chicken coop for morning chores. Elise’s nighty poking out of her winter coat, the boys hair standing every-which way from a long sleep, and our sandy-white cat bounding along the trail ahead of them.

Pails swinging, they neared the spot where the youngest had spilt a bucket of feed the week before- covered up as if the accident had never happened. They creaked open the coop and disappeared inside.

They could barely shovel their breakfasts down fast enough that morning. They were outside in their snow suits before I could even suggest school work was waiting. The morning was so charged with their excitement over the snow, I grinned and let them think they were “getting away with it”.

The house was filled with the outsides muffled laughter, kid noises and caring-ons. The yard transformed into sledding runs, snow angels, shovelled trails going every-which way and men made of snow.

Then disrupting the peace came a pounding on the glass and the kids muffled excited voices as they tried to talk to me though the window. One finally got the pane to open, ” Mom! Gus caught a grouse! You HAVE to come see!”

I tromped out to the excited boys, my daughter giving distance behind them, and my proud little fur baby (cat) rubbing between legs all proud of what he brought home.

Upon closer inspection of the bird I realized the cat had only killed it from the neck up. I honestly don’t know what gave me the idea, but out of my mouth popped “Maybe we should ask Dad if we could eat it?”

The boys had been trying to hunt grouse with their slingshots this past summer/ fall but were as of yet unsuccessful. That cat was showing them boys up if you ask me. We all knew how tasty grouse was, and here was a fresh plump one brought right to our door step.

After messaging my husband with the question “so the cat brought us a big decapitated grouse…. can we pluck and eat it?” To which replied “For sure” the next big thought came to mind. How does one pluck a grouse?

Well folks, in this day and age we are blessed with the wisdom and directions of many seasoned hunters.

On YouTube.

School for the morning took a slight survivalist turn. Turns out there is an incredible alternative to plucking grouse called Field dressing a Grouse. In a nut shell- you gab it by the feet, stand on its wings as close to its body as you can…. and pull on the feet with a steady pressure. Everything just pops off.

There is no way it’s gonna be that easy. Jonas, my 11 year old who was going to do the “field dressing”, agreed- but 100% wanted to try. It was decided to give it our best effort. By we, I mean mostly him. Im an Overcoming Squeamish Person. (Like I once was a screamer, seek cover, don’t you dare show me its DEAD- person, but….. life in the country married to a hunter doesn’t really allow for such things.)

As Jonas was yanking backwards we both thought the legs would just detach and he would end up lying in the snow on his back holding rubbery bird feet. At some point I was behind him trying to help yank his arms up without touching the bird as he gripped the feet. But he eventually got it all on his own. With a cracky sound the body slipped away and we stared in shock at the breast meat laying in the snow.

We cheered in our triumph, and my daughter shouted from the other end of the yard “did you do it?!”

Now that it LOOKED like meat, some how I was fine to touch it. I made myself fine. It’s meat woman. I helped with the cutting off of the wings. So proud of my boy and his knife skills. We thought our cat Gus might want some of his bird, so I tossed him the heart and some innards. He sniffed and walked away. The kids called him back to it, pointing and making the kissing sound we make for when we call him for treats. Gus felt like we weren’t quite understanding him, so he proceeded to bury it like a cat turd. I don’t want these stinking guts OK? And the hunter wandered off.

Well we fried that dinner up with butter, garlic and salt and had a small mouth watering feast that night as a family. We were all so pleased with the days turn of events.

One clever cat,

Skilled boy, and

Delicious grouse.

And about that brave mother?…. she later in the winter had to hold a sick rooster while he lost his head/life. And is learning that sometimes it’s not about things being gross or unpleasant. It about having the courage to do what’s necessary.

I want to be more like that. Overcome silly fears, learn new skills, be more capable, and be willing to try.

More like my adventurous go getter son.