I’ve only been dreading this day for 8 or 9 weeks, ever since these guys came to us as baby chicks. As an only child of a sensitive mom, I was spared from taking market animals (for fear of attachment) and never had to see anything be killed. However, I’m proud to say that we all took part in butchering our six remaining meat chickens. The kids watched (Lucy was at a birthday party and missed it though) and I was able to do everything after they were dead. I still don’t think I could do the killing part.
Then we had to call over two sets of neighbors to help us unload the plucker. The plucker was an interesting craigslist find…we got it from a farm in Plain City, and I think it can pluck about 20 chickens at a time. The farmer also sold us his homemade scalder and threw in a set of restraining cones too.
We are so thankful that our neighbors stayed to help us out. First, we put the birds in restraining cones. This allows for a quick and less stressful death. The body of a chicken, as often told, will continue to flop and move for a minute or more after their death. Andy ended up cutting the heads off to make a quicker process, and the cone prevents them from bruising their meat and breaking bones.
Lastly, we took the birds into the house to cut them up. We are in the market for a big stainless steel prep table (let us know if you know of one!). We learned how to take off the feet, how to gut them, how to open the gizzard, and then we put them in a cold water bath. It was so cool to see all the grass in their gizzards. We gave some of the offal parts to our neighbors and kept some for gravy.
The kids watched the whole process and our neighbor showed them how to make the foot move. I felt proud to be able to process the bird, knowing that my Grandma Wright had done this for years before me, and that I am carrying on a family tradition.
That night we had roasted chicken for dinner. It was really good, and not too hard to eat. I tried hard to not think about it, but when it comes down to it, it was an awesome experience to be able to raise livestock the “wrightway”- knowing they had a great life, were well cared for, and were killed in the most humane way possible. And I’m glad that this will just be a way of life for my kids.