Monday, November 15, 2010

Chickens: Not for the Faint of Heart

Sometimes farm living isn't fun. There are chores that need to be done that make a person question their decision to live in the country.

Town people romanticize farm living.

But those living on the farm know better.

There is nothing romantic about cleaning goat pens and chicken coops. Nothing dreamy about pulling a calf out of its momma's unmentionables and there's nothing idyllic about processing chickens.

Sometimes, farm chores make town living seem down-right romantic.

Fabio meet Old MacDonald.

On the other hand, there is something quite wonderful about seeing a freezer full of fruits, veggies and meat that were grown and harvested on the farm. Even if some of it doesn't technically come from your own farm, come winter, it still counts.

Trout, salmon, chicken, elk, deer, and bone broths in freezer #1

Home-grown beef and veggie overflow in freezer #2

Fruits, vegetables and extra bread in freezer #3
As I'm writing this, I see my 2 younger boys outside, in the rain, chasing turkeys that have managed to "fly the coop". Which brings me to the least desirable chore on the farm.

Butchering day.

We've butchered before, but this time, we researched the proper way to butcher a chicken. Apparently, we were doing it wrong.


There are all kinds of implements to use in the butchering process, but all of that costs money. Lots of money. My Mister decided that he could do it for less.

Killing cones cost about $47/ per medium cone. Ours were free.

Plastic flower pots, with a hole cut out of the bottom make frugal killing cones.

I'll spare you the details, but this set-up worked pretty well. 

Other gadgets that are used are scalders and chicken pluckers.

Scalding the chicken for a few seconds, helps to release the feathers to make plucking easier. (Leaving the heads attached until after this step helps too.) Water bath canners are perfect for this and will save you $200 or more dollars. To save another $800.00, put on some vinyl gloves and pull the feathers yourself.

Vinyl gloves make pulling feathers easier.

A rinse mid-way lets you see what's been missed!
After the feathers have been plucked, the chickens need to "rest" in a tub of ice water for a couple of hours. They need to be thoroughly cooled down before packing. 

At age 18, I got my first job. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Back in those days, the chickens came whole and we had to cut them up into appropriate pieces before frying.

Finally, a skill I can use!

All packaged and ready for the freezer!

We bagged the meat into categories; legs & thighs, breasts, wings, and broth bones. In the latter, we put bony backs, necks and feet. Yes, feet.

There is a satisfaction that comes with growing your own food. It's not easy, but if one wants the romantic dreams of the country, they have to be willing to endure a few nightmares on occasion.

For me, that would be butchering day.


Michaela Dunn Leeper said...

Grrrrr, so I googled & found the reason it isn't working is because I have to enable "3rd party cookies." Good grief, that stinks.

Dem said...

My brother-in-law brought his Vietnamese friend out to the ranch when we butchered chickens this summer. She couldn't believe what we were throwing away! She demanded we save her the eyeballs. And I agree, it's nice to have a freezer (or 3!) full of food you've processed yourself.

Kim said...

Michaela~This is good to know! I forget to google things like that!

Dem~I kept feet, but I don't think I could EVER save the eyeballs! As it was, I couldn't start plucking until the heads were gone!

Kym-Anne said...

Hi Kim,
I really enjoyed this post...does that sound wierd?????

I'm a city girl and I think we tend to forget and take for granted how our food is grown & processed because it just magically appears at the grocery store.

I would truly love to live on a farm but I know I would have a hard time processing our food.