the end of a chicken or two

This post will contain graphic images and descriptions about the process of raising and butchering chickens.

Back when we decided to raise chickens for eggs, I always knew I wanted to butcher them for meat once they stopped laying eggs.  One, I wanted to “complete the cycle” of raising animals for food.  Two, I want chickens who lay eggs, not chickens as pets. We have plenty of pets here.

I noticed that the chickens stopped laying eggs about a month ago.  My dad was going to show us how to butcher chickens, but he’s been working in Texas and hasn’t had a chance to come to Tucson. So, my neighbor offered.  Well, he mentioned once that he knew how to do it and I badgered him about his skills until he just called and said, hey, how about I show you how to butcher your chickens on Saturday?  Okay then. We put a large pot of water on to boil and got on some really cold clothes.

I selected the mean old biddy and the scrawny chicken to be the first to go. Eric’s method of killing the chickens was to twist them around by the neck until the neck snapped. Eric managed this maneuver just fine; I had some trouble getting the neck to snap.  This was a bit unnerving, as I swung the chicken around and then she was still living and looking at me…I just didn’t have the technique down. So Eric tried, but mean old biddy was planning on lasting as long as she could.  So we took her outside to cut off her head. I hope I don’t have to tell you how inadequate I felt at this point, that I couldn’t give this chicken a good quick death.

Sophia had been mostly fine during the butchering of the first chicken. When we were working on cutting the head off the second one, that’s when things got dicey.  She started screaming  – she suddenly realized what exactly we were doing to her chicken friends… Now, I want my child to know where our food comes from, but perhaps, in hindsight, Sophia was a bit too young for this now.  Jon took her to the front yard to play while we finished up.

We took the headless chickens to the back patio where I proceeded to pull of the skin (and the feathers).  We had a pot of boiling water to do this, but I just started to pull the skin and everything came right off.  After all the feathers and skin were removed, I used my knife to remove the wings and feet.  I need a bigger sharper knife next time, like a cleaver.  But it worked.

We haven’t eaten our chicken yet.  We gave one to Eric for showing me how to butcher and he said it was a bit tough.  He just boiled it until the meat fell off and made chicken salad from it.  I plan on cooking ours soon – it’s in the freezer. Most chicken we get from the store is around 8 months old – pretty young.  Our girls are 3 years and counting…

The three remaining three chickens were a bit traumatized by the whole experience and run away from me when I come into their coop.  They will be butchered soon to make room for the new chickens we plan on getting.  Next time I plan on using the axe method instead.  Not sure exactly how to make that happen – probably will need Jon’s help.  Which means someone is going to have to be here to entertain Sophia while we do the deed.  It’s going to be a few years before we let her participate in the butchering again.

But, I did it. I raised chickens and have successfully butcher some of them for meat.  It was tough and I felt bad, but they had a good life and will continue to good things for our family even after death.  It’s the cycle of life…


2 thoughts on “the end of a chicken or two

  1. Pingback: an update from the chickies « Desert Homespun

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