Sunday, October 2, 2011

No Gory Pictures Involved

Chicken Mama came in to help us butcher chickens today and, boy, was her help (as always) appreciated. Three people is a good number to keep things moving along on butchering day. We did a total of fourteen birds in a little over three hours. Six roosters from our spring chicks, four old, geriatric birds that had had a long, happy life in our main flock and four roosters from Chicken Mama's spring chicks.

Above is Chicken Mama tickling the feathers off a bird using the chicken plucker.

Hubby picked this cool machine up from a retiring farmer a couple/few years ago and it's one of the best investments we've made.

The age of this particular model is unknown, but it sure does a bang-up good job. Don't know how a brand new machine could do much better. (Unless, of course, you had a custom-made one like Pig Pen made Apple Pie Gal not too long ago! Dang, I tried, I really tried, but I cannot find the post of her showing his unbelievably handy chicken plucker. Sorry.)

We set up a large tarp to catch most of the feathers, but still and all, it's a less than tidy operation.

Chicken Mama snapped this picture of the two of us working on a couple of naked chickens. (Please understand I was NOT trying to make a fashion statement today.)

I served the very last of the chicken meat from our last butchering for dinner tonight so two of the old birds butchered today didn't even make it into the freezer. They went straight into my big stew pot along with some herbs and veggies for flavoring. The aroma wafting out is making the house smell wonderful right now.

Feels mighty good to have this job done, that's for sure. And a very satisfying feeling to know we have some really good, healthy, homestead-raised chicken meat in the freezer for this winter.


Kelly said...

I give you credit. Unless facing starvation I don't think I could do it. Wimpy gal here, wimpy. Must be a great feeling to know intimately where the animal you are eating came from though.

Mama Pea said...

For me, as soon as the feathers come off, it's no longer a chicken that was part of our flock. Although I gotta admit that after the final cleaning of about the 10th or 12th bird, I was wondering why we gave up vegetarianism twenty-some years ago!

MaineCelt said...

It's that chickeny time of year--we processed birds this weekend, too! We had a WWOOFer (farm volunteer) here to help us and she made a big difference. Alone, picking pinfeathers is absolute drudgery, but with the two of us working together, we got pretty silly and had a much better time. (Bonus--the chickens looked better, too!)

We roasted a chicken at the end of the day, and--because our WWOOFer asked, in a rather plaintive voice--we made her some macaroni and cheese. (After spending several hours fussing over naked birds, she couldn't muster an appetite for chicken, but she promised she'd be able to eat it again the next day!)

Dirt Lover said...

Nice job!! Love your chicken plucker. Both the mechanical one and your offspring!! Looks like they both work well. Anyway, we have a single rooster that I'm ready to get rid of. Youngest child offered to do the deed, but it hasn't been done yet. Seems like more work for just one! We skin them, since we have no great chicken plucker at our place. Oh, love your bright red boots!! Pretty cool.

Sparkless said...

I love chicken. But I'm still not sure I could kill a chicken. After it's dead I'm fine with all the rest it's just the killing part would be really difficult. Maybe after doing a few it would get easier? Anyway glad to hear the weather was good and you got all your butchering done and some good chickens in the freezer.

judy said...

busy busy busy--THEY DON'T MAKE THINGS ANYMORE LIKE THEY USE TO.I think we remember APG'S chicken thing too. but I loved MaintCelts "WWOOFer"answer at the end of the day,mac&cheese if you please=now back to check my e-mail that I can't send-it says I have a invader,like there is anything I can do--change my password maybe

Sue said...

You guys do a great job of providing for yourselves. We want to get to that point, but I'm not ready to give up travel just yet, and without someone reliable to watch the animals while we're gone.....well, no chickens. Yet.

And reallly, you couldn't put on some heels and pearls for this job? Tsk tsk!

Stephanie said...

Well done! I have seen chicken pluckers in magazines, but I guess I would have to see one in action to understand how it works.

Leigh said...

Very interesting plucker. What a great find and buy. Mostly I see the WhizBang type around. But I suppose a new mechanical plucker these days would be out the wazoo. A plucker though could be a real lifesaver.

Mama Pea said...

MaineCelt - I can identify with your WWOOFer completely. I'm finishing off stewing the two old birds I set to cooking yesterday and I have absolutely no desire to strain the broth and pick the bones today!

Lori - Thanks for the compliment on my red boots! I got them purposefully because we have such muddy-mucky springs around here that I hoped if I fell and couldn't get up, someone would spot me because of my red boots waving in the air. ;o}

Sparkless - Just before the kill, we thank the chicken for all he/she has given us and do the deed as swiftly as possible. I don't really think they know what is coming and it's over in a flash.

judy - You're right, I do suspect this older chicken plucker is probably made more substantially than a new one would be.

Sue - Animals do tie you down, no doubt about that. We're much more home-bodies than most people, but there are still times when we wish we didn't have to think about getting home for even just the poultry.

Pearls and heels, huh? Don't have pearls and the last pair of heels I bought were for daughter's wedding 10 years ago. I've never worn them since!

Stephanie - I couldn't grasp how they worked either until seeing one in action. They are . . . well, amazing!

Leigh - This plucker is so fast there's no comparison to doing it by hand. New ones currently are listed for between $700 and $1,000! Plus there's shipping on top of that. What homesteader can afford that?!

dr momi said...

neat machine!

Chicken Mama said...

Leigh, what's "the WhizBang type"? You mean people doin' it by hand?

Mama Pea said...

dr momi - That it is!

Chicken Mama and Leigh - I just looked up the "WhizBang" plucker and it looks just like the one Pig Pen built for APG. Now I really want one of those! (Never satisfied, am I?)

MaineCelt said...

The problem with the whizbang pluckers is that, while thorough, they can be pretty rough on the birds, occasionally snapping a wingbone as the bird gets tumbles amongst all those rubber fingers. In our state, birds to be sold must be processed by a state-licensed facility--the butcher we use has a whizbang-type plucker and the birds come out looking kinda beat up. I know they're dead already, but it seems, well, a little disrespectful, somehow.

MamaPea-- your machine looks like it offers a bit more operator control than the other type. We've been trying to figure out how to rig up a plucker like yours, but our mechanical skills fall a bit short in the design department. Mighty fine machine, indeed!

Erin said...

You're kidding, right? Because the fact that you have RED boots on is indeed the height of fashion for a farm girl! Love the pluckin' posts, and glad you had a chance to take a break from the poly, even if it was for more work :)....

odiie said...

So ya wanna come and help out with our birds? :) We arent' going to butcher until our birds get a bit bigger. We had such late hatches this year. It will be good and cold and a finger numbing experience.

Susan said...

Mama Pea, you are the height of chicken processing fashion! I do love your hat. It's very Dutch/European looking! Having six hands must be such a boon. I refuse to do it myself. I will have to look more closely at this picker. It looks Medieval but efficient.

The Apple Pie Gal said...

Now I want to actually "see" how this things works! Do you hold the bird in place on that little platform as the fingers spin round? I just found out this week that ours is modeled after the WhizBang (never even heard of it before!) The only ones it tore a little were the ones I dunked too long in the hot water (totally my fault). Seein' as how PigPen decided he loved galavanting around the country, he could be bribed to go that way and I am sure in seconds he and PapaPea could accomodate your wishes! I know what you mean about always seeing something super cool...I saw tons of things while we were gone!!! "I need this, I want that, ooooooh that's cool!"

Never ending!

Mama Pea said...

MaineCelt - Yes, I did wonder about the "beat to a pulp" factor that might occur with the WhizBang plucker. The biggest advantage of it would be the containment of feathers. We now have feathers all over the back driveway, a portion of the woods, in the garage and floating around on the floor INSIDE the house!

Erin - Oh. Well. Thank heavens my red boots saved me from arrest by the Fashion Police! :o]

odiie - This was the first year we didn't put off butchering until it was finger numbing time! We could have added a little more growth to the birds but, dang, with the price of feed sky rocketing, I don't know that we would have gained anything.

Susan - Medieval, yes! You hit the nail right on the head. Looks like it could be set up in a dungeon torture room!

APG - The platform thingie is more for the person to use as a stabilizer for their hands and the chickens' feet. You can then hold the chicken in just the right spot for the plucking fingers to do their thing. (The whole chicken hangs out over the plucking fingers.)