So I Guess We’re Real Farmers Now???

Ok, so this post is NOT for the squeamish – so STOP here if you’re easily grossed out.

Turns out we ended up with two very hormonal roosters who were driving our hens crazy.  Poor hens had started hiding out all day in the goat barn or staying up on the roost long after daylight just so they could get some rest.  One, Ginger, had lost all her feathers in the back of her head to these two, so one of them had to go…and soon.

Rocky, our intended rooster and the one you see up in the header, was not going to be the sacrifice…it would be Bob (previously known as Babs).  After Barry asked around to see if anyone at work wanted him but to no avail, we decided against putting him on Craigslist just to be slaughtered by someone else and agreed to just take care of the business ourselves.  We’ve talked about the possibility of getting meat birds sometime in the future (possibly next year), so this learning experience was definitely needed.  After all, this is how the circle of life works, right?   I would much rather be eating a free-range chicken that I know has not been shot up with antibiotics and hormones than to let someone else have him and buy one from the store…so, it was settled.

Last night, we watched every youtube video we could find on the subject until we ended up on the weird side of youtube (ever been there?)…then we figured we had seen enough.

This morning before the chickens came out of the coop, I got everything set up while Barry caught the poor little guy.  I really started getting a little sad when he brought him out looking all handsome and clueless.
Then,  we hung him upside down from the clothes line…it’s kinda funny how they just hang there, really still…again, clueless.
We decided if Barry caught him, killed him, and made certain he was dead, I would do the gross part and pluck and clean him.  Barry slit the side of his throat to let him bleed out.
And he just hung there, really still…and bled a lot.  After a while, and he hadn’t wiggled at all, I figured he must have just gone peacefully.  I looked, and nope…he was still looking around.  It was the weirdest thing ever.  So, we decided Barry should finish him off by cutting his head off…not so sure that was the best idea.
He flailed around like…well…like a chicken with his head cut off…for what seemed like an eternity (really it was about 30 seconds, but blood went everywhere…it looked like a massacre).

In the meantime, this is what was going on in the background (again, the circle of life) – Scout earning her keep as a barn cat:
 Then, I held him by his feet and dipped him in a pot of scalding, 170 degree water for about 30 seconds and then hung him back up.  I was amazed how easily the feathers came off.  For the most part, all it took was wiping them off…except the wing feathers, but they pulled out really easily.

I took him over to the table, washed him, and used a torch to burn off the remaining hairs.  I carefully cut off the neck and the butt, and cleaned him out.
I cut off the feet…look at how big those suckers were!
Now, most people use the organs, the neck, and the feet for making stock, but I’m just not yet ready for that.  I’m sure I will in the future, but this was all about getting up the nerve to even do this task and actually getting it completed.  So, I’m not ashamed at all that I didn’t use every part I could.

I finished cleaning it up, put it in a zipper bag, and weighed it.  Surprisingly, it weighed in at 3 1/4 lbs.  I asked Barry what I should do with it, and we came to the conclusion that we should put it in the freezer and let the memory die before cooking it.
So, there ya have it…our first meat harvest on the homestead…what a sense of accomplishment!

We are also thankful for the Lord’s provision of this bird and the learning experience it provided.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19

This post is getting linked up to the Barn Hop…visit other homesteaders and see what they’re up to!
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14 comments

  1. Geralyn Hampton · November 27, 2011

    Yes, killing and gutting is not that fun, but as you mentioned on a farm their is birth, life, and death
    it is a circle that happens. If you are the least bit squemish with those three things, DO not
    RANCH animals. It is not your cup of tea. THE toughest thing for me when I raised Arabian horses
    was to tell a Vet to put a horse down you know is not getting better, or when a foal dies, SO hard.
    They become your friends, That rooster will bring life with his death to the family who eats him.
    HEY sort of like JESUS brings us life with HIS DEATH on the Cross. I am not saying JESUS is a chicken this event is just a great type and shadow of YESHUA and HIS sacrifice on the cross for us.
    blessings to YOU all.

    • Amy · November 27, 2011

      I’m glad I can say we know how to do it now, but you’re right…wasn’t exactly “fun.”

  2. Dawn · November 27, 2011

    I give you guys huge props for doing this. I’m amazed. I don’t think I could do it…but I could eat it 🙂

    • Amy · November 27, 2011

      So funny, Dawn. Lindsay said the same thing. She was glad she wasn’t here to witness this event.

  3. Pam · November 28, 2011

    This was kind of sad, but very helpful. We’re looking forward to the day when we can raise not only laying hens, but meat chickens as well. It’s good to see all aspects of what that will entail. Kudos to you for taking the plunge!

    • Amy · November 28, 2011

      Thanks for stopping by, Pam!

  4. Melissa · November 28, 2011

    It’s incredible how getting reconnected to where our food comes from forces us to face some of those “man-made” squeamish issues we safely avoid when we are detached. So happy that you took the plunge ~ it is very liberating. We did a year ago and wow, now I’m excited about deer hanging in my garage. lol 🙂

    • Amy · November 28, 2011

      That’s our next quest, Melissa – DEER. My husband is not the avid hunter most people are around here (mainly because he hasn’t made time for it), and we have deer in our yard all the time. He’s determined now to kill one – we’d love to have one in the freezer! Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. desertordessert · November 28, 2011

    Great Job! I recently learned myself to butcher chickens just to know how and to be able to do it if the need arises. What I have learned and what I want to pass on to you is that unless you cull and clean a bird before rigor mortis sets in (hardening of the muscle) which usually takes about 20 min. it’s best to put the bird in the fridge for about 36-48 hrs. to let the muscle relax or you end up with one tough bird.

    • Amy · November 28, 2011

      Thanks for the comment. I just want to make sure I’m understanding this for future reference. If it takes longer than 20 minutes for me to process the chicken, I should put it in the fridge for a couple of days before I freeze it? Just want to make sure I know what to do next time…because it did take longer than 20 minutes, and I put it right into the freezer. Now, I’m thinking it may be tough? Thanks!

  6. Heidi Tijssen · November 29, 2011

    As a child I often looked to my mom, cleaning chicken for the table. But it was my dad’s task to kill the bird – and I didn’t look… Since my child years I’ve never seen a chicken slaughtered, but now we have a few ourselves, so when the need arises I want to be able to prepare one for eating. From what I’ve read the best method to kill them seems to me to break the neck, it is very fast and clean. After that you chop of the head and go on as usual.

    • Amy · November 29, 2011

      You know, I saw many many methods on youtube when we were trying to figure out how to do it, and the way we did it seemed the most humane at the time. Now that we actually experienced it, it seems to have been the messiest of anything we could have done. I can definitely see how breaking the neck first would be the fastest and cleanest. My mom tells stories of how my uncle used to “ring” their necks when she was a kid. I may have to try something similar next time. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Kim · November 30, 2011

    Thanks for the post. We got laying hens this year and are talking about getting meat chickens for next year, but culling them ourselves makes me a little nervous. The other option is that we live close to Amish country and they’ll cull and clean it for 1.30-1.65 a bird.

    • Amy · December 1, 2011

      Thanks for stopping by, Kim. I hate to admit it, but it would be worth 1.30-1.65 for the time it took me to do it and the mess. I’m glad I know now how to do it, but that price is hard to beat!

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