Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Hey there everyone!

*crickets*

I know this isn't Mother's Day... but I'm gonna show ya'll what we did to celebrate Mother's Day...
Ready?

*Warning* Vegetarians go away now. Trust me. I'm sorry. Really I am...

We slaughtered chickens on Mother's Day. Yup. But we didn't make Mom help... so that totally counts for something... that was like... her present... yeah... don't you wish you were my Mom?

We woke up early...



This is Sara... my brother's fiancee... she's gorgeous... and sleepy...

Then we went out to the garage and set everything up...



Killing cones, scalder, and picker... I love the picker... the picker is my friend...



The "gutting table"... this is where Sara and I will be hanging out for the rest of the morning...



The chill buckets... they don't have the ice in them yet...

And... the most important piece of equipment of all...



The ipod and the self powered speaker... these we cannot do without... We started out with some Praise and Worship... it is Sunday after all...



These are my feet... rubber shoes are a must... have you any idea how difficult it is to clean sneakers?







Sara's feet...

I didn't take pictures of anyone else's feet... I know you are so disappointed...

Okay... so... First you go get the chickens from the pasture. *soapbox warning* We raise happy chickens. Our meat birds have had wonderful lives and die humane, painless deaths. They got to be outside, picking at bugs and eating grass and leading normal, happy chicken lives rather than being stuck in a tiny cage and never seeing the sun... *okay done with the soapboxing*



We use our old bunny cages to transport the chickens up to the garage... hey... it works...

Then you get a chicken out...



I don't know why this picture is fuzzy, but there is Sara, gently lifting a chicken out of the cage.
We don't want to traumatize the birds so everything is done as gently as possible. I don't know if chickens feel fear the way we do, but they don't make a fuss so I like to think that one minute they're hanging with their brothers and sisters and the next they are feeling lightheaded and lose consciousness.

You load the chicken, head first into the killing cone...

Travis gently lowering the bird...


Making sure the head comes out right and doesn't get twisted around up in there...

And then you just slit their throats, making sure that you don't hit anything but the artery.
If you do it correctly, the chicken doesn't feel any pain and just goes to sleep.



Here's Kenneth, he and Travis usually do the killing. I can't handle it and Dad is the best at the scalding thing.

Next we lower the deceased chickens into the scalding thing.



Dad attaching them to the "shackles"...



They have to be dunked about 6 times in order to loosen up the feathers. If you just leave them in there, they'll actually cook and the the skin will tear in the picker, but if you under-scald them
the feathers don't all come off in the picker and I have to pull them off and that makes me annoyed.

Next, we release the chickens into the picker...



The picker is an amazing thing. I love the picker. The chickens go in all feathered and come out naked... it is a thing of great wonder.

After the chickens leave the picker, they make their way over to Sara and I at the gutting table.








We cut off the feet first followed by the head and neck. This all goes in the "icky bucket". Next we cut off the tail and cut around the vent, being very very careful not to break anything open. I'm not going to go into detail about what happens when things break open... you can thank me later. The insides are then carefully pulled out. We pinch off the heart and liver, clean out the liver and then both go into the small ice buckets on the counter. We pull the lungs out and testicles, if present, and then do a final check to make sure it's all cleaned out.



These are the biggest testicles I've ever seen... on a chicken... erm... yeah... I wish we had another pair for comparison, but here they are up next to the well endowed guys heart. Crazy.



We have to keep the knives sharp. This is important.

After the chickens have been gutted, we rinse them, do a final feather and inside check and then into the chill buckets they go. The first immersion we call the pink water. You can probably figure out why.

I don't have a picture... sorry... I figured I'd better put down the camera and help poor Sara.

When we're all finished. The clean up begins. Sara transferred the chickens from the pink water in the garage to the chill tanks we had set up in the walk-in refrigerator at the horse barn.



Dad went to dig a hole with the backhoe for the chicken ickies and blood. I won't show you all that stuff...

Then he helped Kenneth and Travis finish the clean up of the equipment and garage floor.



See?

I finally put down the camera and cleaned the knives and disinfected the sink, counters, and walls in the gutting area. Then I went inside to take a shower and order some pizza. We should be able to eat chicken again next week. For now... it's beef... lots and lots of beef...

The next day after the chickens have been soaking in salt water for 24 hours (draws out the rest of the blood, makes things more tidy...) We get to package them. Yay. In December we slaughtered 72 chickens. We were up until 7 that evening doing all the cleanup. It was ridiculous. The next day, Sara and I worked for 7 hours straight getting them packaged. It was ridiculous. This year we did 30 chickens. We were done, clean up and all, by noon. Packaging took 3 hours.

The packaging process is pretty simple. We only left 4 whole. I don't like cooking whole chickens... it annoys me. So we had 26 chickens to cut up. We sever the wings and the thighs and legs. These go in one pile. The breasts come off next, we take the skin off and butterfly them. They go in another pile. Everything that's left we call soup bones and they go in a third pile. Then everything is wrapped in plastic wrap and then butcher paper, labeled, weighed, and put in the freezer by walk-in.

The counter looks like this...



That's only half of 'em...

All in all we had about 130 lbs. of processed chicken. That my friends... is a lot of chicken...

Happy Mother's Day!

3 comments:

  1. Ha! I spent my mother's day the exact same way! Except at a much smaller operation- we had 3 people and got through about 9 chickens in the afternoon. I had the "pulling the guts out" job on the assembly line. The things you're calling testicles- I thought they were kidneys! Wow. Whoops. We were just processing roosters, though, so it makes sense...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Since they're kept, I'm pondering how one cooks chicken testicles. I've not had any to saute' so I can't say if I would.

    We sent our chickens and geese and ducks to our 'bird guy' who sent them back neatly in plastic bags. Good food, and you know what is in it.

    Nicely done. And considerate not to make Mom help on Mother's day. I hear ya on eating beef for a week. I did that for a month after the great chicken massacre when the neighbor's two dogs killed 50 of our birds. A friend brought stuffed flank steak and hugged me while I cried.

    www.kellikolz.blogspot.com
    KelliSue

    ReplyDelete
  3. ok, that was the coolest and grossest thing I've seen. I am very envious of your fresh chicken meat though. I think maybe we should live closer so we could reap some of the benefits of your labor. he he. OK, we'd help. because hey. I am a country girl and would have loved getting my hands dirty. (I wont admit that often). Eugene on the other hand probably would have been hiding in denial of what I was doing somewhere. he he.

    ReplyDelete