There are so many ways to start out tonight. For example: I'll bet I'm the only person you know with a bowlful of chicken feet in the fridge. Yes, I play with rooster testicles. I now know what it feels like to pull the lungs out of a dead chicken. Here's the best one: I HAD FUN BUTCHERING CHICKENS. (PETA advocates can just kiss my rear.)
As most of you know, it really started when I contacted Russell. He was kind enough to agree to show me how to butcher, since I've never done it before today. It turns out that he and his wife Jeanne are two of the most incredibly awesome people I've ever met. So, I bought the meat birds. I raised them. Gack. I was actually LONGING to kill them . . .their only redeeming quality is that they grow fast and make lots of meat.
I actually woke up at 4 AM and thought "CRAP. I left the feeder in there. I'm supposed to starve them!!!" I got up, put on a shirt and slippers, and took the feeder out, growling at myself the entire time. I went back to sleep eventually--I think I beat myself over the head enough. Well, the morning dawned bright and sunny. No wait, that was yesterday. Today dawned chilly and rainy. I got chores done, but it looked like there was a pretty decent band of rain moving in. I called Jeanne.
No, they didn't want to put it off for another hour. They're tougher people than I am. So, we tried to get things set up in the overhang of the barn. Bless Russell for having a ready made wash table and bringing it. Bless Jeanne for being the expert at scalding (and bringing rubber gloves so plucking was SOOOO easy!). Bless both of them for being patient with a couple of beginners taking WAY longer than we should! Thank goodness it quit raining fairly soon!
Even the kids helped. Caitlin helped hold a chicken, Arthur was very interested in the guts, and they even tried to help peel chicken feet. We only had one full crop, and one that had poo (yeah, it was my bad. I nicked the intestine) but it only took about an hour and a half after setting up to process 16 birds. For 2 beginners learning the ropes, I don't think that's bad.
To top it off, we had a great time together. Not only did Scott and I get to do every stage--slitting throats, scalding, plucking, enviscerating--and learning TONS, we also got to spend time chatting with some really fascinating people.
So here you go--some pics from the fun today!
<<bleeding out in the killing cone
Scott plucking after the scald>>
Yours truly getting ready to do my first solo. Caitlin is watching, and that's Jeanne in the background. I got rid of the gloves after the first bird or two--they got in the way.>>
<<Caitlin helping--holding one of the chooks ready to be slaughtered
Russell showing Scott the ropes and Jeanne's beautiful smile at the plucking tub>>
<<Finger puppets!! (yes, I myself have been known to do this with squid heads on fishing trips.)
^^The aftermath: gut buckets. Upper left is feathers and heads, upper right is drained blood, bottom is intestines, lungs, etc. and the liver I spoiled by breaking the gallbladder.
It was an amazing feeling today to look at Scott and say "I had FUN!" I'm sure it had a lot to do with the amount of learning, but even more to do with spending some time with some really amazing people. Thanks, Russell and Jeanne. From all of us.