Sunday, June 9, 2013

Chickens! (and bees)

I'm not gonna lie; this post may be graphic if you don't like to see raw chickens. There's a photo at the bottom of me plucking feathers from a chicken but otherwise nothing too crazy.

My personal belief is if you can't handle butchering an animal you have no business eating meat. Butchering gives you a whole level of respect and understanding for animals that is lost when you're standing at the meat counter at the grocery store. Butchering makes you really think about how many animals had to die to put 20 thighs in that big family package, and makes you realize just how pumped full of growth inducing hormones and food all those supermarket animals are.

Yesterday we butchered 4 roosters, 2 were from our farm and 2 were from my grandma. When you have multiple roosters in the same pen, they tend to fight each other and harass the chickens. Roosters aren't necessary for egg production, only for producing chick-filled eggs, so we decided to reduce the number of roosters. We still have one, a Buff Orpington. 

Curiosity did not kill this kitten!

Friday night, the roosters were pulled out separate from the flock and put in cages so they wouldn't eat anything. The less they eat, the less likely you are to get poop on yourself and the raw meat when you're butchering. 

My brother is responsible for the head-whacking, and I am responsible for holding the rooster in place during and after the head whacking. Surprisingly, chickens move A LOT after their head is gone and make some pretty strange noises as the wind is leaving their windpipes. I try to hold the headless body in place so blood doesn't go everywhere. 
 We hand-pluck the feathers after dipping the bird in hot water for a couple minutes. This helps the feathers to come out quickly. Then we remove the innards from the bird and break it down (cut the wings, legs, etc off the main body), and package each bird with my Foodsaver. Start to finish, it takes about 4 hours to process 4 birds.
You can see on my apron that a couple of the birds went a little crazy ...
Also yesterday, we added another super to the beehive because the one we added a couple weeks ago is completely full! We have one more super ready to add that needs to be painted, to protect it from the elements. I've been reading a lot about how much honey we need to leave for the bees over winter, and trying to figure out how we're going to harvest honey and honeycomb when it gets to be that time...

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