The Eviscerator told me that I should blog about killing the chickens as it is a portion of the process she did not take part in or do. I am complying now, instead of earlier, because I have been busy with Mitchell putting ceilings in the remodeled area and getting other stuff done.
When I last blogged I noted that Mitchell was going to do the killing. As the time came to actually slit the throats he decided he needed to see it happen once before he actually did it. That left me with the black bean. I made him hold the first rooster for the dirty deed. We had wanted to get a “killing cone” to hold the animals in while we cut their throats, but no one sells killing cones, even out here. I decided to get a traffic cone and modify it. No luck. We decided that in a pinch we would modify a milk jug. Our next need was a knife. We had some old knives and a sharpener and spent much time Thursday night trying to get the knives sharp. We thought that maybe we were to the point of having sharp enough knives Thursday night.
So there we were Friday morning with the first rooster upside down in the cone and the time had come to cut his throat. The first slash only took out some feathers. The second broke skin, but with minimal blood drainage. The third slash went deeper, but again, minimal blood came out. I had read an account where a woman talked about using a shrub lopper to cut off the heads and I decided to try the hedge trimmers as the loppers were in the far barn. Wrong tool. Very wrong tool. All I managed to do was mortally wound the rooster and knock him out of the cone Mitchell was holding. The rooster ran around flopping all over the yard for about 30 seconds – much to the horror of every child there. Faith was absolutely terrified. Joy and Clark – who had been cheering me on just moments before – were crying as they watched the flailing rooster. Mitchell went inside and we did not see him for another hour. I was not happy with the turn of events either. The rooster died and I went to the near barn to get the ax. Turns out the only thing duller than the knives and the hedge trimmers was the ax. I might as well have been using a hammer.
I decided then and there that the next chicken would get its neck broken and then its head cut off. Have you ever tried to break a chicken's neck? I had heard my older relatives and acquaintances talk about doing this numerous times but had never been the one doing the ringing. Turns out there is a technique to doing this, I just don't know it, yet. I tried to whip the thing, it just resisted. I tried spinning it while holding its head and it just slipped out of my hands and ran away. We caught it – The Eviscerator, Stephen and I – and decided that cutting off its head was the best course of action. The ax had not gotten any sharper, but I figured that I was a few minutes smarter about how to do it. At first I held the rooster and Mitchell swung the ax. The first stroke missed the bird entirely. Remembering the nail in my palm a few weeks ago Mitchell and I traded places. The first hack was a glancing blow. The second hack hit him square on and his nerves twitched him out of Mitchell’s hands and we had another chicken dance in the yard. This was very different from the first rooster’s dance as this one was dead while the first one was really mad and injured. We gathered up the rooster and took one last hack separating the head from the body.
Lessons learned: 1. Get really sharp knives for the work to be done. 2. Get a killing cone that is steadier than a milk jug. 3. Wake up really angry and ready to just kill whatever comes your way. 4. Don’t skip out on the morning cup of coffee. 5. Hedge trimmers don’t cut necks cleanly.