Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Goodbye to the Chickens

Yesterday while we were setting up equipment, the "Gang of Seven" came around to investigate.  They were six roosters and one pullet who always hung out together.  The white rooster in front is Wren, an Ameraucana, destined for salvation.
Yesterday when we set up the killing cones we had sun and a lovely day.  Garbage-bag-lined buckets sit under each cone to collect blood.  The chickens were placed upside down in a cone, then Herb pulled their heads down and cut them off with a sharp knife, purchased specially for this purpose.
After draining, each chicken was dipped several times into the turkey fryer full of 160° water to loosen the feathers.  Then Herb turned on the electric chicken plucker (rented) and let the black rubber "fingers" pull off most of the feathers.
We set the plucking station up in the garage due to misting rain, and later in the day had to move the fryer in there, too, because the wind kept blowing out the propane flame.  The red box in front is a propane heater aimed at the chairs, one of which has an electric heating pad on it for Monique.
Jim and Monique did most of the hand finish-plucking, a very tedious job that requires a lot of attention to detail.
This is our processing table, with an ice water tub ready to receive cleaned chickens.  Herb set up wooden arms to hold our hoses & nozzles, which I connected up to the water faucet in the garage laundry tub so we could have warm water.  Our newly-purchased stainless steel table is "NSF" which means it's restaurant quality, easily cleaned.
I ended up processing 17 of the 22 chickens we did, but here's a picture of Herb doing one.  The warm water was handy for rinsing messy hands or knives and then rinsing a cleaned chicken, not to mention warming up freezing fingers!
When we had several birds in ice water, Monique would take them into the kitchen where I had sanitized the sink and counters.  There she rinsed them copiously, then drained them, patted them dry with paper towels, and packaged them in gallon freezer bags.
 Here are several chickens dripping.

And here are some in the fridge where they will chill for the next 48 hours until they can be frozen.

We had 25 Naked Necks, and I predestined one of them, Honey Bee, for salvation because she was so sweet and also too tiny to be worth eating.  Somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost one, because after Honey Bee was saved this morning, we only had 23.  One of them escaped just before Herb could put her in the cone, but she came back to the chicken tractor at the end of the day, so he put her in the Chicken Palace with the others.  We haven't decided if we'll do her by herself or just let her live.

We ordered pizzas for supper tonight after cleaning up and sending Jim and Monique off to get Charis, and we sat bundled up on the couch trying to get rid of the chill we got from working in the cold wind and misty rain.  We are bone weary and a bit achy.  It's sad when we think about the chickens, and we'll miss them tomorrow when we go out to feed, but we're very satisfied with the day's work and just a little bit pleased with our first effort to provide for ourselves.  We were so grateful for Jim & Monique's help and participation, and we're especially glad that they left happy and satisfied with the experience.


  1. Oh, that is kind of sad! Their last day alive, exploring the very buckets that would help drain their blood...poor chickies! Glad you got done and hope you had time to relax and warm up this evening. Can't wait to enjoy home roasted, home raised chicken. ;-)

  2. Yes, it was sad. Dad was so sweet; he would say things like, "Sorry, buddy, you were a good rooster" or "Sorry, little girl, it's okay" as he put them in the cones. He really hated having to put them in there the most, he said. With Jim and Monique plucking, by the time they got to me they were so far removed from any identifiable chicken that it was more academic for me. I truly think Dad had the worst job.

  3. I think that it is so funny one of them escaped and dared to come back at the end of the day. I'm sure he witnessed everything from afar and will no tell the story to every new chick you'll get. He'll scared them to death and you won't have to do the messy job :)

  4. Who said silly chickens didn't have brains?! That chick was pretty smart!

  5. @Jean-Marc, you're so funny! Herb would love it if she could just tell the next batch the horror story and have them keel over dead!
    @Jenny, she may not have been very smart to come back, but she sure was smart enough to get away and stay away until it was too late to butcher her! I'm planning on sparing her & calling her Mercy!

  6. Excellent post, thanks. Those look like tasty chickens!

  7. Thank you, Wobbly! You should see the latest batch. They are quite a bit meatier. They also had a lot more fat on them--perhaps because we overfed them on grain and also perhaps because they didn't free-range as much. We wonder if that will make the meat more tender? We'll see . . .


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