Thanksgiving turkey

Although the turkeys weren’t yet market weight, Andy decided we needed to butcher two of them to see how they would compare against the store-bought turkey that would be at the Springer family Thanksgiving. His cousin Adam was in the area on Wednesday, and since he is gullible always up for an adventure, he helped Andy and I got to watch.

Lucy was home from school, so she was able to witness her first butchering. We used our neighbor’s fryer setup and a metal trashcan for the scalding process, as we still can’t get our scalder to work.

Scalding the turkey after the kill. To kill this time, Andy cut the throat while Adam used his full body weight to hold the bird down to prevent the meat from bruising. Another reason why I’m glad he was here…wonder if we can convince him to come back in a few weeks for the remaining 9 birds…

Lucy and I were watching from the porch during the plucking process. Her only comment was that it was “gross”.

Adam and Andy processing the birds. It was amazing to see how their insides compared to the chickens…obviously much bigger. Later on I looked outside to see Lucy and Linus playing with the esophagus. Andy says that he gave it to them to play with so they will learn to not be grossed out.

In the end, to be honest, it was hard to tell much of a difference between our 13 pound bird and the other Thanksgiving turkeys. I will say that the other birds were prepared by a trained chef, and that Andy put too many some interesting spices on ours. But at the end of the day I was still thankful for the way that we had raised them, and knowing exactly what I was eating.

A time to kill…

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.

So after church on Sunday, the kids helped load them up in the holding crate.

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.

Then the bird goes in the scalder to loosen up the feathers.

Thirdly, they go into the plucker where all the feathers get taken off by the rubber chicken fingers.

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.

Two days later our neighbor Karen came and shared her delicious recipe for chicken noodles with us. It was fun to sit and chat with her too as she grew up next door to my dad and his family.