Monday, December 05, 2005

Big Week - Post 1

Sorry to go so long between posts, but we have been too busy to post. I think it has been the best week we have had so far out here at the ranch. I have a very long post and will divide it into seven parts. This is a semi-lazy way to get a post done everyday for the next week. The only way to get it done easier is to get Melissa to do the posting.

This week was our first wholesale chicken processing. We started on Thursday and pretty much everything went poorly. The morning was cold and we were dealing with 20 to 25 mile per hour gusts of a cold north wind. We could have started at eight or nine, but chose to wait until 10 to get going. It was not much nicer then than an hour or two earlier, so we wasted two hours of daylight for no good reason. The big problem on Thursday was the scalding and plucking part of the process as well as the chickens that were not a part of the process coming over to eat what they could find. The scalding of a chicken is critical. The chicken is already dead, so you can’t go back and the chicken can’t go back. If your water is too hot – we find over 155 degrees to be too hot – you cook the bird while you scald off the feathers. If your water is too cold – 148 degrees is the low part of our range – the feathers don’t come off well and you have an old dead chicken by the time it is ready to process. So, your temperature has to be just right.

We could not keep the flame going on Thursday. It was either burning too hot – we scalded a few at 160 to 175 degrees – or too cold – we scaled some at 130 degrees. The money quote of the day came from one of the boys when he told me “the water looks to be at about the right temperature.” This was just before a 170 degree scalding that cooked the bird.

The worst bird was scalded too hot and then got caught in the corner of the picker. The rubber fingers of the picker tore the skin and the meat off the bird’s wing. When the water is too hot the feathers pretty much fall right off the bird. I also noticed that the barred rocks held on to their feathers, particularly on the wing tips, better than the red broilers.

On day one we processed 22 birds. The biggest bird of the two days was a 2.75 pound bird we got on Thursday. However, because we did so poorly on Thursday these 22 birds are our own stock and we left ourselves with having to go through a gut check on Friday when we had to get all of our sale birds done then.

Did we make it? Read tomorrow.


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