Saturday, August 1, 2009

Painting and Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

The yard sale fell through. First, the weather man predicted rain for Friday-- uh-oh. Sure enough, it rained all day on Friday. No way was I going to set up in the rain and then have to dry everything off the next day. Then my Mom, Aunt and Uncle came over for a visit and we all had lots of fun talking and enjoying each others' company. Husband's boss also called and changed his working schedule so that he ended up having to work early on Saturday, which meant I'd have to set up the tables and put all the sale items out alone. So we didn't have the sale after all. That's ok, we'll do it again some other time.

The girls wanted to paint more shirts with freezer paper. So we came up with new designs and made these. Middle wanted a caterpillar with grass, Youngest wanted a tree, and Oldest wanted a butterfly. The heart on the bottom ended up being a way to cover up a glob of paint that dripped on there. I definitely see more freezer paper painting in my future!

In chicken news-- I asked my Uncle to help me butcher a chicken. He's a farm boy and has butchered many a chicken in his lifetime. I asked him if he'd be willing to show me how and he was happy to help.

We butchered the mean, ornery rooster that pecks every passing foot and hand.


There may be some pictures here that sensitive readers might not want to see.

I did not take pictures of the whole process because I was helping, but if you don't want to see a chicken with it's head cut off, feathers being plucked, then a naked chicken, and chicken parts:: don't look.

After we chopped the head off and let the chicken do his death dance (which was not as bad as my mind had thought it would be. I expected much more blood), Uncle dipped the chicken in a pot of scalding water. I expected to be grossed out a little, but I was not in the least.

I was surprised at how easy it was to pull off the feathers. I'm not sure what I imagined, but I thought there would have been more yanking or struggling with the feathers. The only hard part was the tips of the wing feathers where they were big and thick and I had to pull them off one at a time.

With the two of us working together, we had it plucked free of feathers in no time.

Here, Uncle is burning off the pin feathers. I'm glad he pointed them out to me, because I thought pin feathers was something entirely different. I thought they were the teeny tiny feathers that were hard to grasp and pull. Turns out, they look like what they are called, long thin feathers, thin as a pin. Almost like fur. It's easier to just burn them off than to try and pluck every single one.

The part about butchering a chicken that made me the most nervous and what many other websites caution against, was cutting around the chicken anus and being careful not to puncture or cut any of the organs that would contaminate the chicken. You know, who wants poop on your food?
But once I watched Uncle cut and he showed me where and how, it really allayed my fears and I feel much more confident about doing it myself next time. Here, Uncle is pulling out the rest of the internal organs. He got thrown off by the sight of two white organs and it took him a while to figure out what they were. Ah-ha! We were working on a rooster, not a hen... they were testicles!

All cut up and waiting to be rinsed then put into the freezer.
I appreciated Uncle showing me how to butcher a chicken and it was nice to spend time with him, learning and also listening to stories of his childhood.
We kept the kids away-- they knew what we were doing, but I didn't want them to see the killing process just yet, until I saw for myself first, and then I can decide how much I want them to witness and be a part of. I made sure that when we got the chickens, I talked often about how the chickens are going to feed us; some with eggs and some with meat, so that they had no illusions about them being pets. They seem to understand that and wanted to see the meat after we got back in the house. Middle said she didn't want to eat him, and I said that was fine. I won't force her to eat it. Eventually, I will probably wean them into the process, backwards:: seeing me cut up the naked, whole chicken; then seeing me gut it; then seeing me pluck the feathers, and so on.
It was a good experience, and I am still taking it and letting it all sink in. I feel pretty good about having to do it myself next time.


barefoot gardener said...

Gosh, I am so proud of you! Butchering has always been the final straw deciding me against having my own meat animals, even though my 'grandpa' was a butcher and I saw it enough times. I think it is so cool that you are willing to learn a new skill and make yourself more self-sufficient.

I stand in awe, honestly....

Karen Mayes said...

Hmmm... well I looked.

I do remember watching the butchering of a hen when I was at high school, on a weekend trip to Ozarks in Missouri, learning to live how people lived without electricity, gas, as well as learning to take care of barn animals. Hence a butchering of the hen. I do recall the hen's body running and flopping around before it became still. I did not eat her after witnessing it.

Stephanie D. said...

Very interesting! I've never seen anything butchered before; always wondered how it was done.

Congrats to you for learning how to do this--you're far ahead of the rest of us in preparedness and self-sufficiency!

jenny said...

Barefoot-- Thank you. I thought I would feel really bad and remorseful, but I feel alright about it. I know that I am feeding my family and that if worse ever came to worse, I'll have the know-how to get along just fine. Now if I can just get a milking goat... :o)

Karen-- I didn't think the photos were too graphic, you alright? That must have been an interesting experience, going to the ozarks and seeing how they lived. How old were you then? I hope you were all warned about seeing a chicken being butchered.

Stephanie-- Thank you. There are lots of sites about butchering all kinds of animals. None of them gross me out. The only time I get upset is when I see the animal getting treated bad, like those horrible peta clips. I like to think I gave my animals a good life, they ate well and were treated kindly by us.

Wendy said...

Thank you for sharing that. We raise meat chickens, but don't butcher our own, yet. I don't know what's stopping us ... maybe it's lack of a space to do it in, but we really should make the effort and make a space in our yard. It makes so much more sense to do it ourselves.

Hearing about your experience makes it seem not so difficult as I'd imagined. I think with my husband and me both working at it, we could do a fine job. He could do all of the cutting of parts, and I'd be happy to do the plucking and prepping for the freezer or cooking. He already knows the finer points of butchering from the rabbits ....

Anyway, now I'm just rambling :).

jenny said...

Wendy-- The local butcher shop charges $4 per chicken and walmart sells whole chicken for just about $3. I always intended to butcher my own chickens, I just wanted to be shown. I learn better when someone shows me, rather than tell me or I see it online. Now that I've done it, I see how easy it is.

You don't really need much space for it. Just a spot for the hot pot of water, a spot for the chopping block and you can either hang the chicken up and let the blood run out, or put it in a barrel instead of letting the chicken loose to do its' death dance. With 15 acres, we have plenty of space to do it, and I let the chicken loose on a nice grassy area in the garden, so it wouldn't get dirt on it. I also processed the chicken outside because I wasn't ready for the kids to see it just yet-- they still call him by name and ask me if I cooked ____ yet. Next time, after I pluck the feathers and cut the feet off, I'll finish the job in the kitchen.

If you can do your own rabbits, you can definetely do your own chickens. My uncle is already encouraging me to get 50 more chickens and butcher 2 a week. But I have no freezer yet, so I'll hold off on that.

lady macleod said...

Lucky you having Uncle about to give you lessons. Well done! I watched a yak being butchered once for dinner. Boy that was an experience.

I see someone will be looking for her two front teeth for Christmas! Adorable. I love the shirts.

Creative Mom - you should check out starting some sort of online business.

Enjoyed my visit as always.

Coco, not as in Chanel :) said...

We butcher our own chickens too :) Fresh poultry is so much better.

jenny said...

Lady M-- I remember watching a friend's older aunt shoot down a dove, then grabbed it and skinned and gutted it with her bare hands to show me what meat there was. I was in awe of her skill and at the same time, I couldn't help thinking "what was the point? For only that little bit of meat?" I had no idea that people ate doves and have since then, "woken up".

I've come a long way and I like where I am headed. :o)

Thanks for coming by, and congrats on your recent marriage. :o)

Coco-- That's what I hear--I have yet to cook it up!

Tipper said...

Interesting. I've watched my husband clean/butcher his wild turkey kill-but never took part in it myself. I think I could though. Glad you got to learn from your Uncle-to many times we fail to learn things we should from our elders.

(cute girls-and shirts)

jenny said...

Tipper-- I agree! Whenever my uncle comes over, I pick his brain on things my grandmother did. There were 11 kids in his family, so there were a lot of mouths to feed, and I was told she canned thousands of jars to last through the winter. I am glad he knew how to do chickens.


Lisa said...

My friend, Ron who butcher his chickens pokes into the back of their throats with a long pin killing them instantly before he starts doing it.