Friday, September 02, 2005

Processing Chickens: Melissa's perspective

What a day. It's only 1pm and I feel like it's been a full day already. I woke up around 6:30 and realized the post office hadn't called. I figured that meant no chicks today and went back to sleep. They called 20 minutes later and I got up and got ready to go. Roger and the older 3 kids stayed home to be sure everything was ready. I took the younger 5 to keep them out of the way. They were begging to go anyway.

We picked up the chicks and brought them home. There were 2 that hadn't made it through the shipping process, but the rest seemed happy to be out of the box. We're assuming there are 98 left, but those little fuzzballs move too fast to count them. Then we have 3 keets (baby guineas) that should grow up to eat things we don't want around here. We're told they keep away snakes and mosquitoes. That would be nice.

Then we turned our attention to the 4 roosters that were put in a pen when the rest of our grown chickens were let out. We got our gear ready and quickly discovered we have knives that aren't sharp enough. I'll let Roger tell about the killing process if he wants to. I kind of kept my head turned and kept busy with other things at that time. We had read all about how to do this. I read several times over about how to clean the bird, but still had to look at the book. Our book said they can do a chicken in about 10 minutes. I expected us to take longer, but wasn't prepared for how much longer. No one knows for sure how long it took, but we think it was an hour or so. We scalded it and then began plucking by hand. Then came the part where I had to clean it. I'll spare gory details, but have to share that at one point I pushed against a lung and the bird squawked! It had no head at that point, but just the sound of air escaping made a chicken-like squawk. That startled me enough that I dropped it and stepped back. Then I just laughed and kept going.

The second rooster only took about 20 minutes. Huge improvement! We'll go at least that fast next time--we learned a lot from the first one. We let the other two roosters live a bit longer though. We want to get sharper knives before we do anymore. We couldn't stop at one because it takes two birds to feed our family one meal.

We're pretty tired now, but tomorrow night we'll have fresh chicken for dinner that we grew ourselves and processed ourselves (I think these were 2 of the ones we even hatched ourselves). We'll know without a doubt that there are no antibiotics, no hormones, and no chemicals added. Just pure, fresh chicken.

I hope we like it!!


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