This post contains talk of guts, chicken parts, and obviously, killing animals. If you find this offensive feel free to not read. Thank you.
Today, in short, has been a very long day. Today was one of those “farming” days for us here. We spent the entire afternoon butchering chickens. Yup. From 12 PM to around 6 PM we were busy killing, plucking, gutting and slicing up a grand total of 21 chickens. It’s quite a long process, but interesting and engaging. And it’s definitely not for the squeemish or faint of heart. For this reason I decided earlier against taking pictures to share with you guys. Plus I spent the entire time wrist deep in chicken parts…so no time to take pics anyways. Lol.
It all starts with my brother and father, who catch two chickens at a time and bring them to the killing cones. These are metal cones that we stick the birds down into so their heads are sticking out of the bottom. Then my father uses a knife to cut their arteries and they bleed out. This is the most humane way of doing the killing, as there is virtually no pain for the animal and the basically just drift off to “sleep”. After they’ve bled out, dad dunks them in scalding hot water to loosen their feathers for the next step, plucking.
Now let me tell you, for the longest time, we had to pluck each chicken by hand, which took a good hour at least. Just last year though, we built ourselves a chicken plucker. This is basically a barrel with the top and bottom cut off, with rubber fingers all through the sides. The bottom is a fingered round platform that is spun around and around by a motor. The chickens are placed in the plucker 2 at a time and sprayed with water as the plucker spins them round and round, and in the process the rubber fingers pull out the majority (if not all) the feathers. This has been the biggest time saver for us and makes us much more efficient. 🙂
After they’ve been plucked, they’re handed off to my mom and I, and that’s where the gross part begins. We begin by getting rid of any leftover feathers there may be. Then, taking nice sharp knives we cut off the feet and neck, also making sure to take out the craw. This is a pouch in the upper chest that stores food and softens it before it enters the esophagus which leads to the gizzard to be ground up and sent to the stomach. After that’s been done, we make a slice under the rib cage and pull open the chest cavity to make room for our hands. Yup, this means what you think it does. We stick our hand into the bird, scraping the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, stomach, etc. away from the body and pull it all out. Usually we save the hearts and livers to feed to our dogs, but we still have plenty from the last time we did chickens.
Once all the innards are no more, well, innards, we use our knife again to cut up around the pelvic bones and around the vent (the chicken butt, to be blunt) and oil gland (this oil gland is where they get the oil they use to clean their feathers, and it can give the meat a nasty flavor if cut open) and then toss all the guts into a designated bucket. Then we rinse the carcass out, put it in our tank of ice water, and move on to the next bird.
After all the birds have been gutted, we move them inside for the processing bit. This is the more difficult part, as we’ve yet to master the technique of getting all of the meat off. The key to it all though, is to take advantage of the joints and never cut through bone. If you’re cutting through bone, you’re doing it wrong. First we cut off the wings, we save these to feed to our dogs. Next is the legs/thighs, which we keep together and the skin on for the flavor. These are used mostly in our chicken adobo. We get rid of the skin from the rest of the birds. Once the legs are removed, we peel off the skin from the breasts and slice them off. This is always the hardest part to do. And last, we slice off the tenders which are located right underneath the breast. After that, we bag the chicken back(what’s left after the legs, wings, thighs, breasts and tenders have been removed) to freeze for our dogs (well, dog. only Harli, my boxer is big enough to handle them lol) to eat. Everything else is bagged in about 4 parts per bag and put in the freezer.
After a lot of work, and a lot of standing up and being on your feet, you end up with a bunch of yummy, home grown chicken in your freezer, and one less batch of chickens to feed and water lol.
So I hope you all enjoyed this peek into my farming life, and for those of you who didn’t…well I’m sorry. 🙂