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October 27, 2012 / Michael E Picray

Today Was Chicken Day

Yep… I’m sure that 28 chickens felt honored – since they are up in the shed eating corn and getting ready to roost for the night.

However, six of the chickens maybe didn’t feel so honored as they are not… in the shed, that is. They are currently in the sink. I guess you could say that for those six it’s bath night. And they are getting the last of their pin feathers removed, their insides are getting “detailed”, and they are generally getting all spiffed up to move into their temporary housing in the basement. They get to move into a big white box. We call it a freezer.

Since we had other things to do this AM, we didn’t get started until mid-afternoon. I set up the half-barrel in the cleared garden area and started a fire in it. Then put the grill on it and finished filling the big boiler until it was 2/3 full of hot water and put the lid on so it would get hotter faster.

I got out a stout honey locust log and turned it up on its end and since I couldn’t find my hatchet, I sharpened the corn knife. Then I got some bailing twine and sharpened a few knives, got a couple of plastic baggies for the hearts and livers, tied the dog up (pesky beast) and we (Melodee, Em, and I) were ready.

Melodee selected our first honoree. Top of the list was the old three-year-old rooster. He was king of the roost with his inch long spurs. But he was getting old. This spring we only got a 50% hatch. That means the old boy was “over the hill” and not doing his job. A few days ago I watched him try to mate with a few of the young hens… pitiful. They could out-run and out maneuver him, so he picked on the old hens and wore them to a frazzle. So his was the honor of being first.

Remember this all you guys out there. Make sure you are still useful around home or you could end up in the soup! I try to be useful as much as The Boss can tolerate. I know I’ve been useful enough for the day when she says, “Don’t you have anything to do?” That’s my cue to go away lest she start thinking about removing MY pin feathers! ;-D

Next was our handicapped rooster. As a young chick in the chicken house he somehow got a leg damaged. He could get around okay, he could even go outside and get up and down the ramp! I called him “Gimp” – our daughter called him “Hop-A-Long”.

Then came four of the old girls. Only two of them had eggs forming in them – which means that two of them were not producing. At the current price of feed, we can’t afford to keep non-producers around.

After I published this, I noticed that I didn’t say what the boiler full of boiling water was for. Sorry. It was for dipping. After we take the chicken’s heads off we dip them in the HOT water. I hold them under for about a slow count of ten. Then we take them and hang them from the tall cattle panel fence with twine (slip knots for the feet), and pluck them. The boiling water loosens the feathers so they come out easily.

So that was the day. Six chickens processed to freezer bags and put in the freezer to wait until Thanksgiving week when we will get them out and cook them down, and can them. Gonna make some chicken soup with veggies, chicken soup with noodles, and some chicken bits (like you can buy in the small cans) for sandwiches, salads,  soups and stews, and cook up some chicken broth to use as a soup base.

Next week if the weather is okay and we can get our stuff together early enough, we hope to do 12 chickens in a day. Then we will be done with chickens.

Perhaps I should also mention that we chose the cleared garden area for our work because as I took their heads off, they bled-out all over the garden  РEXCELLENT fertilizer! And the feathers will compost down there.

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