Wednesday, November 01, 2006

twenty four in one day

i was never able to count the remaining chickens after the chicken massacre of 2006. their density and movement patterns made it unreasonable. i now realize there were twenty four broilers and one free-hen that made it to maturity. we will keep the hen with the layers and try to integrate her into egg production.
after morning chores i started to set up the slaughter station. i like to set it up in the front yard for several reasons. just outside the fence means that the kids can visit and see what is going on but remain contained from the real mess. having the set-up close to the kitchen makes the copious trips back and forth more reasonable. but my favorite reason is that look-ie-loos driving by can get a real eye full. i love the idea that whomever drives past during the event will likely see a flapping bloody chicken body hanging over a blood bucket.
items to be set up are:
-the scalding pot with propane heater
-the table covered with plastic and vinyl cover
-the hanging station
-the tarp to cover the general area
-the triangle shaped chicken pen
-sharpen the butchering knives
-cleaning supplies
the scalding pot likes to be set up first so that it can achieve and maintain optimum temperatures before the event begins--just below boiling. i re-purposed tabitha's cleaned birth tub liner to cover the kitchen table. and have a tablecloth sized piece of vinyl tarp to further protect the top. i put the area tarp down, drove cedar fence posts and attached a cross support to hang the flapping chickens from. the triangle shaped containment pen is a real time saver during the event. i transfer all the chickens into the pen and when it is time to catch one, during the slaughter, it is easy to single them out and trap them in one of the three triangle corners. i maintain our kitchen knives in a very sharp state but i especially demand razor sharp knives to butcher with. one of the only times we, at the pile of omelays, use bleach is when raw chicken is involved. sixteen hours later i can still smell the bleach on my hands.

tabitha opted out of the butchering process since new baby and chicken guts don't really mix. did she plan it this way? our gracious neighbor john agreed to help for a share of the bounty. when he showed up i was trying to catch and transfer the chickens to the temporary pen. after they were all caught we checked the scald water temperature and decided to start. i showed john the entire process from slitting the throat, scalding, plucking, taking out the oil gland, removing the feet and head, cutting them open removing the intestine, gizzard, crop heart liver and lungs. i didn't realize he would be as helpful as he turned out to be. he was doing half the birds as quickly as i was and even had a few suggestions that really helped. after a grueling eight hours we finished off the final batch of five chickens and it was time to rest.

twenty four chickens in one day is a personal record and couldn't have done it without john. sorry there was no real opportunity to take photos since tabitha was entertaining guests and my hands were never sans chicken guts. we now have a refrigerator full of chicken and one less chore to do twice per day.
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