Warning: If you are a member of PETA, I suggest you skip this blog entry!
We butchered chickens on Sunday and had a great time with some friends who helped. The weather was nice, the company was good, and the job got done. We start by getting them out of the pen (you can see this in the background of the dunking picture) and bringing them over to get their heads cut off. The idiom, “Like a chicken with your head cut off” was proven many times and our guests were in awe how they keep moving long after the head is gone. We throw the chickens in the green grass to let them bleed out and then my husband dunks them in scalding water to pluck them. If the water is too hot it will ‘cook’ them but if it’s too cold (as we discovered our first year) then plucking them is an ordeal. Dan had it just right and he and his buddy were able to pluck them quite quickly. Then it’s the ladies turn; we finish the plucking, getting all the pin feathers out by rubbing vigorously as well as cutting off the legs. The oldest daughter proved to be a pro at this in no time. Our friends’ three daughters did a terrific job of helping out here, and in no time flat the chickens were cooling in the water. I should add this was their first time butchering and those girls were troopers; they tried to do every job and didn’t complain. Good for them! Next, the ‘men’ come in and gut the chickens; my eleven year old son loves this part of the job. He hates plucking, but he loves to pull out the insides! One of the young ladies is taking anatomy in high school so we had her name the parts as they were coming out. Education is everywhere… I pass on the guts part and make myself useful somewhere else-anywhere else-when this is going on. The chickens go into another vat of cold, clean water for a final rubdown from me before laying on a clean sheet to dry. We place fans on them and flip when dry. Then someone singes the hair-yes, chickens have hair- and then they come in the house to be washed, weighed, and packed. The average size was 6 1/2 lbs with the largest at over 7. We pack half of the chickens whole to be rotisseried throughout the year, and the other half we cut up, separate, and vacuum pack. We boil the carcasses in my largest pot and freeze the chicken broth for soup throughout the year as well. It is an exhausting day, but once it is over it is such a relief. Having friends there to help made the day go by much faster and easier; if we do it ourselves, we are working on it late in the evening, but we started after church around 10:30 and were done with clean up and packaging by 7 p.m. We gave away four chickens, and now have 22 nestled safely in the freezer-no pun intended. Here are pictures of the process: