Monday, August 24, 2009

Butchering Chickens.....

This is another one of those posts that you absolutely should NOT read if you can't handle blood, guts or are squeamish.

Jamie, this means you. Do not read this post. If you do, you will probably cease being my friend and never talk to me again. Don't even be tempted. I love you too much to traumatize you, so go read PW's site. Gawk at the cowboys in chaps, look up a new recipe or enter a contest. Just don't read any further.

We were going to butcher the chickens several weeks ago but they were really too skinny. The chickens were Rhode Island Reds, which was supposed to be a good dual purpose bird. I don't think we will raise this breed again for meat. They just did not get very big.

Think about the roasted chickens that you can buy in some supermarkets already cooked. They were just a little bigger than that. Next time, we will get the super-meat producing Cornish Cross breed.

Chickens need to be butchered at 14 weeks for frying and around 16 weeks for roasting. Anything beyond that would need to be put in soup. The meat just gets too tough. Our chickens were right at 16 weeks, so they really needed to be butchered.

I need to tell you, dear friends, that I have never killed an animal in my life. Maybe a spider or two, a zillion bugs but never an animal. This was very difficult for me to do. I felt a little nauseous and was shaking a lot before the first one. Which, is not a good thing when wielding an ax.

First, I set everything up. Got the table ready, tools ready, and hung up some string nooses on the clothesline to hang the chickens up by their feet so they could bleed out.

The first chicken got away. I was too nervous and did not hold it securely. It ran off, gave me a dirty look and hid behind the barn.

This one was the lucky first. I said a prayer. I did. I don't know if there is a chicken heaven but I prayed for God to bless this chicken, to calm it, and to prevent me from cutting my fingers off.
The chicken just laid there and did not struggle. Let me tell you, looking it in the eye right before I killed it was not a good idea. If I could have closed my eyes, I would have but then, you know, I may have lost a finger or five.

The chickens got into my garden and ate all 11 watermelons. Picked them clean. I had to use that for motivation. It took me all summer to grow those watermelon. I was very angry. I had to channel the anger.

I chanted; Watermelons, watermelons, they ate your watermelons.

Okay, I really didn't.

Don't worry, this was just an aiming maneuver. I did not actually chop it's head off this time. I won't show you that part. It is too graphic and I don't want to prevent you from eating chicken ever ever again.

After its head is chopped off the chicken really does flop around a lot. I had a difficult time holding on to them. Two got out of my hands after their head was off. One flopped around on the ground, the other actually ran around for about 20 seconds, then flopped in the bushes. Chickens really do run around with their heads cut off. I don't think I want to use that phrase anymore though.

I think I'm a little traumatized.

After the chickens stop moving, they are ready to be processed. My husband had to help me with the first one and I was thankful. He showed me some easy ways to clean the chicken. After the first one, the rest were pretty easy. The hardest part was killing the chickens.
I really did not like doing it but I will do it again. Cleaning them was not as gross as I thought it would be. That was the easiest part, by far.

Brandon would catch the chickens for me and hold each one until I breathed deeply, calmed down and got the courage to lop off the head. Then he would run inside because he really did not want to see the chickens get butchered.

Lexy fetched a lot of things for me and stared with gross fascination.

Cody took a feather that was on the ground and put it over the AC time and time again just to watch it propel 10 feet up in the air. He was the biggest help of all.

My wonderful husband encouraged me and gave me tips. He did not help too much because I really wanted to do this on my own. Don't ask me why. It is just one of those things.
He was very proud of me.

Warning, the most graphic pictures so far are below. I do show cut up parts but they are not extremely bloody. Proceed with caution.

Here is the bucket O' scraps. Wings, heads and guts. These were taken to the woods for the wild animals to take care of.

Feet, of course. Yes, I did make them dance around a little and do the Can Can.

Taking the skin off is akin to taking one-piece Pajamas off. You just slip out the wings and legs one at a time and the rest comes off pretty easy. Don't worry, there are not any pictures of guts.

Here are my birds all cleaned and ready to put in the freezer.

Oh, and yes, I did get the rooster that got away.

I still have about 20 chickens. 15 that are only 8 weeks old and 5 of the Rhode Island Red hens that I saved to lay eggs.

My garden is safe.

The farm is a bit quieter this morning.


Dart Budgie said...

Good work!

Have you thought of coming up with a chicken guillotine? That might make the job slightly less likely to chop off a finger or two.

Also, have you looked into making one of those things that plucks all the feathers off super fast so that you can have the skin when you roast/fry and for flavoring when you make soups, etc?

Well done!

Melenie said...

Wow, awesome job!!

Anonymous said...

Great job, I'm proud of you! I hope yours aren't as tough as ours were.


Anonymous said...

Good job. When you mentioned that your chicken got away it reminded me of the part in the book, Love Comes Softly. It's in the movie too but I enjoyed the book more. Someday when we don't move so much I want a mini farm for hubby and me after the children have grown up a bit.

Anonymous said...

Bless your Heart :) I know it was hard to do.(Huggs) It was the first time i did it.

Camille said...

Y'all are just too sweet.

I expected to be yelled at for my maliciousness, instead I get love. You guys are great.