Warning: This post may contain photos that could be offensive or shocking to readers. Please do not read this post if you are squeamish or have issues with the slaughtering of chickens.
You have been (officially) warned.
Alrighty then, now that that's out of the way...if you're still reading this, then you must want to hear about our adventures in the slaughtering of 2 of our flock.
Last week we decided that it was time to put Gimpy out of her misery (while she finally figured out how to get up the ramp into the coop, she still could not get back down which meant she was spending her days in the heat of the coop sans water or food...not a good idea in 90 degree weather). We also decided that it would be best for our flock to not be regularly harassed by Prim, who turned out to be an actual rooster and not just a jerk.
Tool Lady watched several youtube videos and we both read up on it a bit, but it was fantastic to have Alex & Becky from Spotty Dog Farm over to share in a few beers and the experience. Alex has killed a couple of chickens and Becky and I made for good laughing partners through the whole thing (you know, that weird, awkward, nervous laugh that happens when you're a part of something uncomfortable but far enough removed from it for it to still be funny?). So, when I say "we" in all that happened below what I really mean is "Tool Lady", as she did everything except slit Prim's neck. I watched, offered moral support, plucked a few feathers and helped wrap it all up. I was basically a bystander, Tool Lady was the super-heroine.
We said our Thank You(s) to each of the birds before putting them upside down in the cone one at a time.
Prims comb was so big, I doubted it would fit through the hole in the bottom, but apparently the people who design those things know what they're doing.
With a bucket below the cone & rooster to catch all the blood, there was a waiting period while the whole process was assessed. Apparently, chicken feathers are designed like armor, so you have to separate them before you can slit their neck.
Once it's slit though, the bleeding out process goes by remarkably fast.
Once it has bled out, you remove it from the cone and dip in a pot of scalding hot water. This opens up the skin and makes the plucking process quite bearable.
After most of the feathers have been plucked, Tool Lady cut off its feet.
And once the feet were cut off, it was time to cut off its head. Gross.
The look you see on Tool Lady's face is not one of joy. She was experiencing one of those awkward laughs of, "Oh my goodness...did I really just chop off that chickens head?!?"
Then, the scent glads went, as well as the gullet.
After the feathers, feet, head, scent glands and gullet were gone, it was time for disembowelment. Gross(er). A couple of slits at the top and bottom of the body, some reaching and pulling (and some holding of breath through the process) and Tool Lady had an actual (almost edible) chicken on hand.
After a dip in some more water and a quick rinse, we put what-used-to-be-Prim into an ice bath and got started on Gimpy.
After all was said and done, we wound up with 5 ponds 3 ounces of organic, free range chicken plus parts for chicken stock.
We grilled up the bigger of the two a couple of days after the slaughtering and it was delicious! Maybe a tiny bit tough as it cooled, but quite possibly the best chicken I've had in a really long time. All in all, it might be the best chicken I've ever had since I know that it ate well, was treated well, got lots of exercise, sunshine and water. The littler of the two is in the freezer waiting to be made into a yummy stew.
Tool Lady wants to use a hatchet next time, instead of slitting the neck. Hopefully we won't have to slaughter any more of our chickens any time soon, but at least now we know we are capable when it becomes necessary again.