Saturday, February 28, 2009

food chain

saying goodbye to a hen prior to her death
for a long long time i have been wanting to raise and kill my own meat. i've always been a part of some sort of garden (usually my parents), and have been around for and sort of assisted in the killing of pigs and chickens, but never really on my own . . . until last saturday. my mom had a bunch of old hens (6-10 years old) who had lived very happy lives producing eggs, scratching in the dirt and thinking chicken thoughts. however, they were no longer laying that often, and she just got a new batch of chicks who started laying in january, and it was time for the old ones to go. i figured this was my chance, because just killing them and not using them is silly, and i've been wanting to make some good chicken stock (a la nourishing traditions). still, the thought of butchering 8 chickens with only a page long description in my country living skills book seemed daunting (not to mention i usually pass out at the mere mention of blood). fortunately, i somehow mentioned it to a girl at church who said she killed them all the time, and graciously agreed to help. so, me, my mom, and two friends gathered at 8 am on sat. to do the deed. i didn't do any of the actual chopping off of heads, but i held the bodies as the twitched and bled out, and then dipped them in hot water and plucked. the plucking was surprisingly easy, despite the smell of wet feathers, and then i assisted in and de-gutted two all by myself. not pleasant. all in all the process took us almost four hours.

me gutting a chicken, me, christy, shalicia and the chickens
then i took them home ad had to wash them out, cut off the feet and SCRUB them (they are a great source of gelatin in the stock), the necks (sick), and the wings. it is exhausting work to kill, pluck, and prepare chickens! the experience greatly increased my appreciation for quality food, and made me feel like i was really pulling my weight in the food chain. unfortunately the stew i made out of two of the chickens was very tasty, but the meat was like shoe leather. those old girls were tough. today i have the last carcass in the pot making stock (takes about 24 hours a carcass). and i have to say i'm glad its over for awhile.
ready to make some chickie broth


Quel said...

good work zina. it's not easy.

our hens are getting older and we have to start thinking about chicken stock too.

Ann Marie said...

Zina! You are made of something beyond my ability to always amaze me!

We were sorry we missed you too! We want to come down more often...maybe even rent out a yurt for a while during the "off" season. Please steal any photos you'd like from my blog.

Hope to see you soon!

hannah g said...

I've been waiting to see a picture of a chicken foot on your blog.

The Baker's Goods said...

Holy cow! You are hard core! I'll bring the sour dough bread and you bring the chicken soup!

rceg said...

Great Post! Now you can come and fillet a thousand fish with me at the lake this summer....