Monday, August 13, 2012

the nitty gritty of it all (part one)


Because some may be curious, and also for my own record, I wanted to share a few of the more nitty-gritty details about raising the meat birds and our first chicken harvest.

While I'm far from experienced enough at this point to offer a comprehensive tutorial of the process start to finish, I would like to share some Internet resources we found very helpful. Our process was a less-refined amalgamation of these. (Please note that the following details and videos may be disturbing to some).

:: Respectful chicken harvesting, both video one (first seen here) and video two are enlightening and made the whole process seem very doable. Plus, I find this lady just all around marvelous. 

:: Joel Salatin's evisceration video, which is great to watch a few times to see how the pros do it.

:: This website has incredibly thorough information that was excellent for studying beforehand and referencing throughout the process as needed. 


As to our experience, I don't think I've ever really witnessed the true meaning of the term lifeblood until this event. I was was incredibly grateful that the first chicken we harvested went peacefully (he actually just seemed to fall asleep, which may have something to do with the fact that he laid upside-down for at least 5 minutes while we were making our final preparations), and while I won't pretend they all went this gently, having this as the initial standard certainly gave us strength to carry through to the rest. The other thing that carried us through was, as I mentioned before, my brother-in-law's help with the first few. Simply beginning is the hardest part, made easier when there is someone with experience around for support. Especially someone who walks around barefoot the whole time. And tells us to stop watching videos and just pull the guts out already. And reminds me that my grass is cleaner than any factory. Yes, everyone needs someone like this the first time around. Honestly, though, the process wasn't nearly as traumatic as I imagined it would be, and although I don't foresee it getting any easier from an emotional standpoint, I do feel okay with it. Which is to say that we didn't eat chicken for dinner that first night, but have been reverently enjoying it since. 

12 comments:

  1. Congrats on your first chicken harvesting! Nothing's better than homegrown food :)

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  2. Thank heavens we have a poultry processing place close enough to take ours to... that does all the 4H chickens. I just don't think emotionally I can ever do it again.

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  3. I'm absolutely certain that I could not do it. Not to say that I don't appreciate homegrown food because I do. And I completely get where my food comes from, I was raised on a ranch in my formative years. We also purchase 90% of our meat from local ranchers (or the local 4H kid). I just don't think I could do it.

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  4. I think it's a worthwhile thing to nurture, grow and then humanely harvest. As we are meat eaters in this house, I would love to delve further into this process (I've gotten so far as witnessing the gutting and skinning of a goat) and it is something I think those that eat meat could do well to be a part of at times. Good on you for having that courage.

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  5. I loved this post. I did cull a few roosters back when I summered on a farm. Having more experienced people DOES make the starting process easier. We held the roosters and then took their heads with an axe... it was a two person process... one doing the holding and the other doing the chopping... each of us taking our turns. I had heard of cutting and then breaking the neck.. and appreciate your links. I commend your courage and wonder when our hens stop laying if we will make chicken soup out of them... if our foxes don't get them all first. our flock of four is now two. we are in the market for getting some new before fall.

    kuddos to you and I'm thrilled for your chicken dinners. I have to confess, the rooster that I killed and butchered stayed in my freezer until it had been in their too long to be any good anymore. Your courage inspires me that if we cull any of our layers in the future it will be for soup!!

    hugs

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  6. Thank you for that first video. I wish the chickens I eat would have such a thoughtful and caring, yet practical, person be responsible for their ends. I love that she got teary.

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  7. This is very impressive. I aspire to this in the future. There's so much for me to learn--thank you for this post!

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  8. I'm glad everything went well! Our first experience was similar, a bit easier than expected, but overall- good. It's amazing to be connected to our food in such a huge way.

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  9. I'm glad everything went well! Our first experience was similar, a bit easier than expected, but overall- good. It's amazing to be connected to our food in such a huge way.

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  10. I'm glad everything went well! Our first experience was similar, a bit easier than expected, but overall- good. It's amazing to be connected to our food in such a huge way.

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  11. I'm glad everything went well! Our first experience was similar, a bit easier than expected, but overall- good. It's amazing to be connected to our food in such a huge way.

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  12. We just learned how to process chickens a few weeks ago, and that very first step was the hardest for us, too. The fellow who led the workshop said, "I'm not going to lie - this part sucks," as he told us the best way to cut our chickens' jugulars. It is so empowering, though, to know how to do it and really, REALLY feed yourself. I don't plan to ever know how to butcher a pig, necessarily, but I give you major kudos for raising and slaughtering your own meat birds. Very, very cool.

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