Saturday, June 15, 2013

Butchering Class - B Fails Chopping 101 - Aly Falls Over Laughing

July 1, 2010.  My best friend and I tackled the new experience of how to butcher farm raised meat chickens.  An experience I don't think either of us will ever forget, and thought we'd never attempt again, but yet here we are 3 years later and we both have meaties again....

For the last 10 weeks B has been raising these awful ugly smelly and totally disgusting meaties.

Horrible, disgusting little birds with fat ugly feet.

Last week I had inquired to one of the local Amish families we know about getting these birds processed for B. He said he would do it, and that he'd be home all week this week.

B asked me to find out about Wednesday because that was the best day for her.

Monday he wasn't home, Tuesday we weren't home, and then Wednesday I forgot to go until afternoon! So we took off to go talk to him, and his wife said he wasn't home, wouldn't be home until late, wouldn't be home on Thursday, and thought the birds might have to wait until next week.

I was like, no way! they cannot wait until next week!!!!!

I told E lets go home and I'll contact B and we'll figure out how to do these birds on her own - even if I have to chop off the heads myself.

He suggested we go ask another Amish family that we know - they were actually the first Amish friends we made and we used to buy hay from them.  We get there, and the wife, Ilene, was very quick to say no problem, she'd do it, bring the birds. I told her I'd help chop heads if necessary, and she said their ax wasn't that sharp, so I told her I'd have B bring her hatchet.

We talked for a bit, so it wasn't very quick on our part getting the message to B, and I told E we had to go quick because B would be needing to know what was going on.

Called B's house, found out she'd gone to talk to the other Amish family LOL But B's mom had her call us back and I was able to tell her that they weren't home and we had someone else lined up to help.

So, B picks me up and we go get the birds, hatchet, coolers, and whatever else we needed to get these birds done.

Let me tell you - those birds were HEAVY.

We get them all over there, and Ilene and her oldest son chopped the first 6 chickens while B ran down to the grocery for ice .  (There were 18 birds total) She showed us how she holds the chicken, her son chops the head, and then she holds the chicken on it's back to prevent some of the flapping around.  She said she hates the jumping and bleeding around the yard.

Her 12 year old son made it look so easy!! 

We then took the headless monsters up to the 5 gallon buckets of hot water she had waiting. We dipped them, wove them around in a circular motion in the water to make sure we got every feather wet, and then we plucked them clean into wheelbarrows. 

After plucking, we took the birds to the two tables she had set up for cleaning.  She had two huge stainless steel bowls on the table that she put more hot water in. Her boy showed us how they cut off the feet and the result looked like a store bought roasting chicken.  She then "bathed" the meaties, cleaning off any dirty spots on the skin and getting the rest of the pin feathers that had been missed.  After their bath, she cut a small amount of skin away from the neck, exposing the top parts of the breast, and took out the crop (she called it their feed sack).

She then cuts off pieces around the tail, and the tail itself, and the innards were pulled out and dropped into a slop bucket. We chose not to keep any of the gizzards, etc even though Ilene was explaining to her son that some people eat them as delicacies (not us!). 

So the first 9 chickens were plucked, and the plan was to skin the other 9.

 Ilene sent B and I down with her son to chop off more heads. B and I took turns holding the birds as her son chopped. 12 years old and he was a little pro!!

On the last 3 birds, Ilene sent Becca and I down to do the birds!

The following conversation:
Me: I'll hold the birds, you chop..
B: You want me to chop???
Me: yep, it's your hatchet - just don't chop me! 

So we begin, I hold the bird, B positions the head between the nails on the stump...she aims, she raises the hatchet, she comes down and....and....

what is this a rubber chicken?!   I'm not kidding that hatched BOUNCED back off that neck like it hit rubber!  The chicken is kicking and squawking - with a small sever in one side of it's neck!!

I'm laughing! I'm trying to hold onto to a kicking, flapping, and squawking chicken, and B takes another whack at it.....and ONLY CUTS HALF THE NECK!!!

I'm laughing even harder, chicken is flapping even harder, and I just couldn't hold the dumb bird any longer....he drops to the ground, still attached to the stump by a shred of his neck.

They say third time is the charm....

B chops it again, and succeeds in fully severing the head....except....except....Aly is no longer holding the bird and the headless chicken is now chasing B!!!!!!!!!!!!

At this point, I'm doubled over in laughter. We can hear Ilene from the top of the hill and all 7 of her children laughing. 

B is running backwards away from the headless bird, that's managed to pretty much stay right at her feet!! chasing her still.  B's screaming but I don't remember what she was saying, because my own laughter was roaring in my ears.

Poor B!! She nearly tripped over the kids' swingset, with that bird still coming for her! 

I finally rescued her from her headless attacker, while still emitting giggles and chuckles...carried the bird by it's feet (that were fat and gross) and set him off to the side.

I turned to B and said, "You hold, I'll chop."


We finished all the birds around 10:30 pm, packed them up, and took them back to B's to be soaked over night in ice water.

It was a great experience, was a lot of fun, and I think if B and I decide to do something like this again, I can definitely chop off the heads.  lol

Friday, June 14, 2013

Snow-mageddon 2010 - 2011

I've been browsing through some old journal posts, and stumbled upon a few good stories I'd forgotten about.  I've decided that some of them deserve to be shared, so over the next few days I'll be posting some of my best true farm tales from "back in the day" to here.   I've been guffawing all morning over some of the shenanigans my dear friend B and I have got ourselves into!   Perhaps I can convince her that our chicken butchering deserves a spot of honor in this blog as well.  ;)   This journal entry was originally wrote on December 9, 2010.   Enjoy.


Day 1 – Battle with Carhartt’s
Carhartts - 1  Me - 0

It would seem that the White Death has already reared its ugly head this year.  All of those prayers floating heavenward begging for a White Christmas in typical Bing Crosby fashion are on the fast track of being answered this year.

For me and the chickens of Chick-topia, it’s the most horrible time of the year.
I hate the White Death. Snow-mageddon came earlier than I had anticipated this year. I like those green and dry Christmases – and I don’t mind waiting until January for the first flurries.  February would be even better. Or, just one day of the White Death – December 25 – would be perfect!

But, alas, as it is, we’re in the midst of the beginnings of Snow-mageddon 2010 – 2011. How’d we get so lucky?

Not only are we battling the angry swirling white flakes that mockingly skip, twirl, and pirouette their way to covering our corner of this precious earth, but the deep freeze has settled in for a long stay. Frozen pipes and poultry water are all I have to show for the Devilish Deep Freeze.  The Thaw seems far off in the distance.
To truly appreciate this weather, one would have to be born as an abominable snowman. This short chubby woman doesn’t do well with the cold.  I have secret desires – that my husband doesn’t share – to move south – to a warmer climate. But not so far south that we’d be near the water.

I had to brave the unbearable and wicked elements of December today. I knew my precious poultry and other critters were depending on me to drag my frozen carcass out there and relieve them of some of their misery in all this mess. 
I completely dreaded it.

It’s been so bad, in my mind that is, that I’ve threatened to sell every Critter off the whole place – just so there’d be NO outside chores. But, alas, I cannot bring myself to part with the goats – who are so full of personality it isn’t funny! And of course none of the chickens can go!  (Ok, 6 gals received pink slips today, but no one else is going!) I almost evicted the lop rabbits - aka The Dukes – but when push came to shove, and they turned their big beautiful eyes on me, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

So as I was trying to psych myself up to go out and freeze, out of the corner of my eye something caught my attention. It was brown, and lying in the corner of the kitchen in a heap.  Hmm….is that my other half’s…why yes, it is! Men’s coveralls!! Carhartt’s at that!! WHOOT!!

A hair brained scheme began to form in my mind – and I snatched those bigger than I am coverall’s off the floor, shook them out, and proceeded to don them. I shoved my left foot in first, then my right, pulled them up to my waist and quickly jammed my arms into the sleeves.  With great pride and feeling quite pleased with my ingenuity, I padded to the bedroom where I found my red thermal Taz socks – complete with slip proof stuff on the bottom of them! 

I then padded back to the kitchen where I pulled on my rubber boots. It was at this point I decided that maybe putting on two layers of clothes before the coveralls wasn’t a good idea. My arms were so thick, and the coveralls, being larger and not made for me as they should be, made it difficult to bend down and pull my boots on.  After several frustrating tugs, the boots were on, and I was out of breath. I bent over one more time to zip the pant legs over the boots.

Thirty minutes after I started, I was out of breath and felt like I’d already done a day’s worth of chores. I hadn’t even made it out the door yet!

The finishing touches of my perfect winter ensemble were two pairs of gloves, and the man’s Case Farms Chicken toboggan – where the best chickens come from.  Try explaining to your chickens what Case Farms is!  I totally lied to the girls when they questioned my wearing the hat. I explained to them that it’s a farm that thinks they house the best layers in the world, but we know better because the best girls are in our yard. (I’m hoping they bought it, but a couple of the gals looked skeptical! Especially after I handed out the pink slips to the light Brahmas!)

So proud of my ingenuity to wear my other half’s coveralls, I excitedly called out to him, “Do you see I’m wearing your coveralls?” 

He replies, “Yea, will you go get me a screwdriver?”  *rolls eyes*

As I trudged outside in midst of the White Death, it became increasing apparent that those coveralls were definitely NOT made to fit me.  I also became aware of why people like them so much – they definitely kept me warm!  The problem was trying to successfully walk in them while rotating out frozen waters for fresh and filling feed pans.  The crotch of the coveralls stayed somewhere around my knees – making it difficult at best to walk. My dear other half said I looked like a penguin waddling around Antarctica….frankly, that’s how it felt! 

Somehow, I made it work. I trudged back and forth to the barns filling water, feeding, and making sure everyone was dry and warm.  By the time I was done with the chores, I was overheating.  If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought those coveralls were forcing me into early menopause with the heat wave running down my back and legs.  Sweat was running down my back, and I was so warm I couldn’t wait to get to the house and remove the now offending garment.
I honestly believe the body heat radiating from those coveralls melted a path from the barn to my house.

I stumbled in the door, nearly tripping over the too long pant legs that had fallen down under the heels of my boots. I ripped off both pairs of gloves and yanked up on the pant leg zippers.  I grabbed my boots and huffed, tugged, and heaved until they both came off and I fell backwards.  Then I unzipped the front of the blasted heat wrap and tried to pull my arms out.

Panic! I couldn’t get my arms out! I knew there was no possible way the stupid things had shrunk – at least I didn’t think they could have.  I tried to shrug out of the sleeves, but they were so tight across the shoulders I couldn’t get either arm out – at least not without help.  I tried to reach my right arm across to tug on the end of my left, but again I couldn’t reach. At this point, standing in our too warm kitchen, it was beginning to feel as I was wearing my own individual sauna.  I was slowly roasting to death!  I could feel my first shirt beginning to shrink wrap to my body, and my pants were sticking to places they should not have been sticking. My temper started to rise right along with my body temp.

At that moment, my wonderful other half came in. smile I asked him to please pull on my left sleeve and to help me out of the now suffocating, offensive coveralls that I had excitedly crawled into. He gave one hard jerk, and I stumbled backwards into the wall.  Sputtering, I started to yell at him for not being gentle – but wait! My arm!  It’s been freed!

I scrambled out of those coveralls as fast as I could and tossed the offending garments into a heap in the corner, totally convinced they were some evil device created as some sort of torture device.

The truth of the matter, though, is that I was warm! I didn’t come in from chores chilled through the bone – and it’s all thanks to those cursed coveralls.  Just don’t know if I dare attempt it again…