Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Puttin' Meat on the Table

Nobody really LIKES butchering day on the homestead, but if you choose to raise some of your own meat supply like we do, it's simply part of the whole process.

Today we butchered five roosters from this spring's hatchings, and two ducks. All will be put in our freezer and used over the coming winter months.

Roy gathered the birds, then killed each one as quickly and humanely as possible. These birds were bred for eggs and/or meat and all had a really good life with plenty to eat, lots of fresh air and exercise, green pasture and sunshine, and a protective shelter against inclement weather and night predators. It's been said that animals don't spend one second thinking about when they will die, but rather enjoy each moment to its fullest. And if you spent any time watching our flock of chickens, ducks and geese, I think you'd readily agree.

Last spring, we made contact with a farmer out of the area who had some poultry equipment for sale. Among the things we purchased was this chicken plucker. And, boy-howdy, does it do a good job! A wise investment.

We worked inside the garage today as the outside temperature was only in the high 20s with a nasty wind blowing. Because the birds are dunked in hot water before being plucked, the feathers are wet and land pretty much in a concentrated heap on the cement floor.

The birds come off the chicken plucker remarkably clean, but there are always a few stubborn feathers that need to be pulled by hand.

The birds are plucked and ready to be gutted. (Roosters certainly do have long legs, don't they?)

It's not in a yellow styrofoam tray wrapped tightly in cellophane, but the chicken is starting to look more like the majority of people today see it.

Four roosters completely ready for the freezer. One more rooster and the two ducks to go. Roy and I are both thankful that we know our poultry was humanely raised and butchered, and we're grateful for the nutritious, healthy food they will provide for us. There won't be any "waste" products from the butchering process today. What isn't used for food will be composted and returned to the garden soil in time.

Butchering isn't fun, but it does create a certain sense of accomplishment . . . and as Roy just said, "Think of all that Chicken Wild Rice Soup!"


  1. I would like to get some chickens for eggs, but I think I would have a struggle when butchering time came around. We hunt wild turkeys and pheasants, but I think it's different with an animal I don't know than having to butcher something I had raised and would spend time with every day. Does that sound stupid? (do you try not to think of the chickens and ducks as pets?)

  2. Hi, Ruthie - No, your feelings re butchering home-raised stock are not stupid at all. I think there are very few of us who don't have some qualms in that area. With animals that we know are going to eventually provide food for us, we don't treat them the same as we do pets. (Our goats, for instance, we didn't eat so they were more like pets.) And yet you can't help but single out certain ones because of their personality or physical appearance. We've even been known to give ones destined for the table names. We had one little Buff Brahma hen that we simply couldn't do in. She must have been 7 or 8 years old when she died of old age.

    People who keep chickens for eggs and don't want to put them in the stew pot themselves often advertise them and find people who are more than happy to have the old hens for food. You could even donate them to some food shelf or charity, if that could be arranged.

    Having fresh eggs is WONDERFUL so I'm sure you could work something out if you didn't want to butcher and eat the chickens.