Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A great life with one bad day

How did I spend the last day of my 4-day Memorial Day weekend? I butchered 4 chickens and a turkey. P did the killing because I'm just not able to bring myself to do that yet, but I pretty much did all the rest. It was supposed to be a joint effort. He brought over the headless chickens, I dunked them in scalding water and defeathered them, then the plan was to skin and gut them together. P was having trouble with his first chicken (I was still defeathering a turkey outside so wasn't there to help quite yet) and when I went in to get started on mine, he was getting increasingly frustrated. Then he tells me he's feeling queasy so he leaves the room for a bit. Next thing I know, he is going to the house to check on the kiddo. The man has great timing because he came back hours later, just as I was finishing the last one.

So back to the is gross at first, but it really is neat seeing all the stuff that a chicken is made of. The most fascinating thing are the eggs. You can see every egg the chicken will ever lay. They go from the size of the tip of a pen, up to normal egg sized. I found a shelled egg in the turkey and one hen that, if they hadn't had such a rotten day, would have been laid that day.  The hard part of gutting a chicken is trying not to perforate the bowel. If it is perforated, it is a gross stinky mess, although it can be washed out. The first chicken I nicked but got it out before it became a problem. The next two I managed to keep intact, but the 4th one it pretty much went everywhere. I cannot even tell you how gross it is.  I had to stop mid-stream and rinse the chicken out before continuing on. I skinned all of the chickens because plucking is a pain (it starts out easily enough because a little hot water makes the feathers come right out) since the pin feathers and guard hairs don't come out easily.

It is messy business and after all that hard work, the chickens looked so scrawny. They were a couple years old and they were free range, so I am sure they are quite tough. I am planning on making coq au vin, which is traditionally made from tough old roosters. The turkey, on the other hand was just a year old and had lots of meat on her. I swear, even gutted, she weighed 30 lbs. P came back just in time to rinse the chickens and put them in the freezer.  The turkey required both of us to into a large garbage bag and into the freezer. She is so big that our family can eat off of her for a week, but since it is the first time we have butchered a turkey, we are hesitant to share because we are worried she might be tough or taste bad. But I supposed we can always order pizza if the turkey is a flop. So I guess I'd better get all our families ready for a turkey (or pizza) feed.

After spending two hours on five birds, my back and arms were killing me. I strongly believe that the people who do this for a living should make a lot more money.

Many people think it is horrible that we would butcher our own chickens. But really, I know where that chicken has been, what it's eaten, how it's can that be bad? They have a great life until that one really bad day.....