Monday, November 07, 2011


Whoa. So the 4 that were slated to move from the chicken palace to the fridge have done so.

If the notion of this bothers you, read no further. If the notion of me, your friend/daughter/granddaughter/niece/goddaughter/fairy-goddaughter/employee/coworker/acquaintance/neighbor/stranger, assisting in the demise and butchery of a chicken bothers you please go elsewhere.

That said, here we go. My humble (and humbled) thoughts on the subject. There aren't too many pictures involved because...well I was involved. The manfriend and I exhibited the teamwork that professional sports teams can only dream of in dispatching these roos. I am proud of us. Considering this was our first time out killing chickens together or out here. And our utensils prove to be lacking somewhat.

We had the 4 sequestered for such a day as Mike and I had off together. Today was that day. First things first. The spawn had finally saved up enough allowance for a new wii game, so off to the store we went where he proudly handed over a small fortune comparable to what I make over the course of a few days at work, and home we went with groceries and a new game. The manfriend and I went out and got stuff ready to go.

Large pot on a burner outside for scalding. Worked perfectly.
 We used a canner pot from my grandmother (who hopefully isn't reading this post) to scald the chickens. It worked perfectly. I was extremely happy with it. With a burner the manfriend had and my cheesemaking thermometer, we were set.

Slip knots, nail and a twist does the job

Heritage chicken.

 I don't have any pictures of the killing process. We secured them to a tree as best we could (I devised a slip-knot rope tie for their feet that I'm sure everyone else out there uses, but it was new to me), and slit their throats. We did it so they would go out as calmly as possible. By the fourth (and final for today!) we had it down pat. No one suffered too much, though.

I have to say that I found it to be extremely important for me to stand and watch the chickens as they left this earth. I couldn't watch the manfriend cut their lifeblood and then walk away. It felt disrespectful somehow to walk away while they were getting to the end of their roaming days, although I'm sure I was not on their minds at all.

 The first guy got dry plucked halfway, and then scalded. Really we just wanted to see how tough it was. It was tough. We gave them a dunk and all went much smoother. I don't know that it took too much time at all.

I had nothing to do with the cutting of throats, and some to do with the scalding and plucking. The manfriend did the majority of these chores. Butchering, however, was my deal.

And here's the deal. I kind of didn't do as well as I would have liked, nor as well as I have done in the past. I am not squeamish. Not at all. (Ok. My mother will correct me and interject that eyes bother me. And yes. Yes they do. But these chickens were headless at this point, so no worries there) But it has been a LONG time since I have gutted a chicken (or anything for that matter), and I couldn't remember how to get the whole damn package out. I just couldn't. My iPhone may have been in my back pocket, but I had chicken all over my hands (gloves are for sissies) and I was too busy racing the sunshine - it actually almost got warm today and I really didn't want the carcasses staying warm longer than necessary. So I cut the pieces off the bodies, got the gizzard and cut off the breastbones for soup.

I am happy to report I remembered to label the bags BEFORE filling them. Easier this way. I am unhappy to report that the nagging feeling that I had forgotten something at the store earlier was totally true, and I did not have enough gallon bags.
 Even with the meat that I couldn't get cleanly off the bone due to not being able to stick my hand in the body cavity, and because my knife wasn't nearly as sharp as I needed it to be (and no, can't find the whetstone. And yes, my sharpening steel is a bit worn out), we got 18.6 pounds of meat. Not including necks, breastbones and gizzards.

Rinsing before packaging.
 And now what? We wait. We wait for the chicken meat to cure somewhat in the fridge. Rigor mortis has to come and go and the enzymes in the meat need to kick in to tenderize it up a bit. And as the roosters were 6 - 7 months old (instead of 12 weeks...) we need all the tenderizing we can get.

So while the breastbones make broth:

and boy will we need this broth to stew the meat later!

tonight we feast on homemade pizza...

and stuffed crust pizza at that!


George and Kerri said...

Your stock is yummy looking! :) I'll bet the stew turns out awesome.

Samantha Bangayan said...

This was super interesting to read about, Caitlin! I just came back from a rural part of the Andes to visit Roy's grandparents' farm and saw two chickens butchered for the first time. Loved reading about your experience too.

caitlinvb said...

The stock is good - and clear! For the first time in a while!

Sam - this was the first time in a long time I'd been around a chicken slaughter. And i have to say it really wasn't too emotional at all. It's amazing how when you know that they are food, some chickens are easy to let go without much emotion at all (other than a sense of responsibility and gratitude). And if we were to lose Henrietta she would get buried and a headstone! Never could butcher or eat her...