Saturday, July 26, 2008

Butchering Chickens

Yesterday I took a vacation day to help Lynsey butcher her chickens for the farmer's market. She had 45 chickens. The most she's butchered by herself is about 20. She showed me how to do the first one and then I killed the next 35 by myself. I caught about half of them, stuffed them down into the killing cone bags, tied their feet with black electrical tape, hung them over a trash can, cut their throats so they could bleed out, hosed them off, dunked them into the scald pot and then dropped them into Lynsey's homemade whizbang plucker. That think is the bomb! It plucked them clean in about 20 seconds. I hardly had to pull of any of the feathers. Lynsey eviscerated them, cleaned them up and tossed them in the cooler. She had all 45 spoken for at the market but we only got 36 killed. We started at 7 am and had to take about a 40 minute break to pickup her son at daycare. We finished bagging them and icing them in the cooler at 3:15. The farmer's market started at 3:30. It was a fast and furious day.

I was surprised that I really wasn't bothered by the whole thing at all. I actually enjoyed it. For one thing, they weren't my chickens so that helped I think and we did it all outside so it really wasn't smelly. It was, however, really, really hot. I went to the farmers market afterwards and helped her for a few minutes because she was just swarmed with buyers and lookey lews. I picked up Grace and by the time I got home I was sick from the heat. I went to bed at 5 pm and didn't get up again until 5 am this morning. It was a big but satisfying day. Now I'm going to make a pen and try to get about 25 cornish cross chicks to raise. You only need to raise them about 7 or 8 weeks until they are butcher size and we can butcher them and put them in the freezer for ourselves and our family. Then in the spring I might do it again. It's going to be a pain with out the plucker but we'll get it done. Her chickens taste so good! We are both feeding our chickens unmedicated feed and trying to keep them as organic as possible. None of mine have had any medications or anything yet so that's pretty satisfying.

My layers are finishing their last bag of starter/grower feed and will be beginning their layer rations probably in a couple of weeks. I hope in another month or so they'll start laying. I can't wait!

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