Friday, November 15, 2013


If you do not want to see images of my chickens about to be killed, just killed and in the process of being gutted, you may want to skip this post!

D day has arrived.  I had about 2 hrs to finish gathering what I needed after my kids got on the school bus....all the while scurrying to do normal Friday chores...trash day, clean the bathrooms, do some dishes and some wash.  My invited guests arrived right on time and I heard a baby crying and knew it sounded too young to be our neighbor's, who is now 2 years old.  Mrs Hoover pushed a double stroller containing her 2 little girls, Jolene and Priscilla and her baby boy (the 2nd boy in 7 children!), baby Lee a mile to our home from their farm.  First stop, Baby Lee was a little gretzy, so mama stopped to feed him (from the tap).  Gretzy is a great word we folks of PA Dutch (or Deutsche) heritage use to describe a child (or person) who is irritable and cranky.  My guests today are fluent in PA Dutch, much like my father's parents.  It was a real treat to watch them all speaking Dutch to each other. I haven't heard that in many years as my father and his siblings never really learned the language.  We all have some things we know.  Swear words, of course, top the list of things most people learn.  After that, it's just a language your grandparents use when they don't want you to know what they are talking about or arguing with each other!  :)  These guests are of the Mennonite faith in the Old Order.  They drive a horse and buggy and dress plain.  They do have a phone, unlike the old order Amish, but I would guess alot of their practices are similar. 

Clash of the 1800's.  New school plain vs old school plain.

The 2 younger neighbor kids, also Mennonite, however they are of the modern sect and drive cars, have computers and cell phones, but do not have a television, came over just in time for the killing.  I am not sure if the two sects interact.  Personally, I would think the Old Order folk would not like the defected sect, who live much more modern lives, dress with bolder colors and prints but still claim to be 'plain'.  I did send word with the kids to see if their mother wanted to pop over to watch as she had mentioned at one point that she was interested.  Needless to say, Callie (4) and Evan (2) came over for the fun.  I thought they'd want to play with the girls, but they were more interested in the chickens.  I hope they aren't scarred for life!  They watched the killing and then quietly crept back to their own yard and that is the last I saw of them. 

First task at hand was the kill.  Mrs Hoover brought a feed sack and she had cut out on of the corners just enough so the birds heads would fit through.  The idea was to cut off the head with her shearers and then the bird would flop out the blood in the feed bag.  No muss, no fuss.  My birds were in boxes all ready to go.  Lila was by himself and the 2 babies were in another box together.  We started with Lila.  Mrs Hoover put the sack up over the box while opening the flaps, grabbed Lila and forced him into the bag.  Once secure, she used her fingers to feel for his head and coaxed it out the hole she made in the corner.

Then she stretched the head and neck out and we clipped the head off with the clippers above.  She had the bag secured and after the head came off, the bird went through his involuntary flop phase, which actually serves a purpose.  It helps get the blood out and is important in the bleed out phase.

This girls giving Lila a pet before his demise.  Someday they will be doing the butchering for their family!

One snip, and the little bastard is an oven stuffer roaster.
After all 3 birds were killed and done flopping, we got on to the next task.  I had a turkey fryer set up with water boiling.  The key to the defeathering, is opening the pores so the feathers remove easily.  If the water is too hot, the pores will close.  We added some cooler water to the boiling water.  Then one by one, submerged the birds in the pot for afew minutes.  After all were wet, hot and ready to go, we tied each to a rope over a beam by their legs and pulled all the feathers.  They just came right out!  It really was neat how they just pulled out.  We worked quickly as this needed to be done before the bird cooled up again.

Here we are!  All Naked and looking almost like supermarket chicken!

We still have a long way to go until we are ready for the freezer.  The killing and defeathering stages were not too bad.  Really.  I was a little sad when we killed them, but we had so much work to do that there wasn't time to lament.  When you choose to raise chickens, you need to get over the fact that these are pets and realize you have a job to do to keep your flock safe, healthy and fed.  Culling birds is what is necessary to achieve that.  My organically fed, ranging boys will hopefully taste great and blow away Frank Perdue.  We shall see!

I will stop the tale here and continue with the next post after I digest some more.  The actual butchering was a little tedious.  I was not a great biology student and we were finding all sorts of body parts.  Fascinating to say the least.  My great friend, Joe, was on his way over and made it just in time to join us for the butchering.  It worked out perfect since we had 3 birds and 3 butcherers!  I'm so glad he joined me on this Goonie adventure as I have been on a few of his so it's always nice to return the favor!  Although he said he wasn't too into the butchering, he was actually much more of a natural than I.  I took afew pics during that sequence, but I filmed the whole thing.  So, I will work on trying to pull some stills out of my footage and maybe afew clips.  Bear with me on this as it may take a bit of time for the update!

Thank you for sticking with me through this as I know it makes most queasy!  I can also add for your amusement, that when ordering dinner tonight, I ordered only pork products and skipped the chicken!  :)

Shouting out a fond farewell to Lila, Matilda and Raven.  You were all lovely birds and so glad we had the opportunity to raise you up so that you can nourish our bodies as nature intended.  We will miss you all but your stories will be told for years to come!

Nighty night, Cluckers.