Saturday, September 10, 2011

Butchering Chickens

This spring we purchased 28 chicks with the intention of butchering half and keeping the other half for laying hens. When choosing hens to buy you have three choices. You can get a broiler (a VERY ugly large chicken), which is a chicken specifically designed for meat, a dual purpose bird, which is a chicken you can use for meat or as a laying hen or you can get a layer which is a hen that is smaller in size and high in producing eggs. I decided to get Barred Rocks which are a dual purpose bird. They are black and white speckled and are kind of a pretty chicken, if you can call a chicken pretty.
A few weeks ago Shawn and I prepared to butcher some of the roosters. We knew that it was going to be a big job so we wanted to butcher some at a time instead of all at once and overwhelming ourselves. We prepared the kids for what was going to happen and explained about having to take off the heads and all the gory. I figured it was just part of farm life and that it wouldn't be that big of deal for them to watch. I figured WRONG. Shawn had me holding the chickens body while he stretched out the head and did the whacking. I wasn't exactly thrilled about this part of the job, but I could tell when I suggested he did the holding and the whacking that he wasn't going for it. So I was a good wife and held and closed my eyes hoping that Shawn was a good aim and when I heard wack I let go. Instantly the headless chicken starting bouncing around the yard and the girls starting screaming and crying. They were absolutely horrified and I felt terrible. I took both of them to our swing set and made them stay until the worst part was over. Trevor on the other hand watched the entire process, and only said that he felt bad for the chickens. What a diffrence between boys and girls!
Our plan was to butcher the rest of them this weekend, but Shawn ended up getting another side job that is taking up all of his extra time. This left me with two choices. I could either butcher them myself (insert laughter here) or find someone to butcher them for me. I opted for option B and found an Amish family in Carson City that would do it for $2 a chicken. The kids and I loaded up the chickens today and took a very stinky drive to Carson City. We pulled into the farm and all these cute little Amish kids come running out with their dad to take the chickens from us. The Amish man pulled the cage out of the back with all the chickens and sat staring at them for a minute before saying anything and then he commented on how nice of chickens they were and asked if I would be willing to sell them to him instead of having them butchered. What?? I wasn't expecting that at all. I really wanted chicken meat that I knew wasn't pumped full of hormones and antibiotics from the store and explained that to him. He then offered to trade me some broiler chicken meat that he had raised and already had cut up in his freezer for my live birds. We figured that the combined weight of the birds I brought was going to be around 30lbs and he offered me 38lbs of the meat in his freezer and no butchering fee in exchange for my chickens. Sweet! I ended up with 8 more pounds of meat, saved myself $20 and I didn't have to wait around 2 hours while my chickens got butchered! That is my kind of deal. I guess it paid off to take such good care of my birds:)

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