Sunday, October 5, 2008

In case you didn't know...

...farming is HARD WORK! LOL
(NOTE: This post talks about the process of getting fowl from pen to freezer. I will try to be less graphic, but killing is involved)

Got up at 3:30 (yes that is AM) yesterday to get the Words of Wisdom written and get dressed and out the door by 4 -- almost made it -- to head out to my friend Robin's house to help process poultry. Arrived at here place about 6:30, we had coffee and muffins while her husband busied himself outside getting things moved around and in order for our project.

Since we were going to skin the chickens (none of us need the extra fat from cooking the skin!) and only scald and pluck the turkeys, Robin got the fire started in the outdoor fire pit while Steve and I collected the first 10 birds to work on.

They had penned up the chickens separately so it was pretty easy for Steve to catch them, and he handed them out to me to put in the crate in the back of the three-wheeler for their trip to the block. After some discussion, we decided he would be the axe man and I would help hold (covering each bird's eyes in turn, which helped to keep them calm. I learned a new technique for the bleeding them out process, too. Rather than just letting them go on the ground (they do thrash around "like a chicken with it's head cut off" once they are dead) Steve secured a stiff wire around one leg prior to the axe bit and then we used the wire to secure the carcass, hanging upside down from a cable for them to drip.. avoiding any bruising of the meat as well.

We did get a little extra exercise, though, as he didn't quite secure the pen well enough after that first batch were caught and almost all of them made their escape! Steve is one master chicken-herder though! Mostly through his efforts we managed to get MOST of them back in the pen, and on each subsequent trip to gather up 10 more, grabbed a couple more stragglers hanging around outside their fence, wanting back in with the flock.

We did them 5 at a time, carried to the picnic table, covered with heavy plastic, for skinning and gutting and then they had set up an outside sink in which to wash the carcasses and where they soaked in icy cold well water to cool. All in all we processed 46 chickens, about 10 per hour and 3 turkeys, which we plucked. The whole process was lot harder, more physical and messier (for sure) than what it likely sounds from my writing. At one point Robin mentioned that I needed to clean the blood off my glasses before I left the farm (I did... and off my face too...) and I quipped that we should have done this on the day of Halloween, (looking down at the blood spattered yellow rain suit overalls I was wearing) and I could have just gone home and handed out candy...

We were at it a good part of the morning, despite a brisk cool breeze and a lack of sunshine. As Robin said, "either less wind or a bit more sun would have been nice..." I brought home a big bag of hearts and livers (none of us eat gizzards), 12 nice size chickens and a hen turkey for Thanksgiving, all of which I managed to fit into the freezer last night.

"On the way" home (kinda... ) I stopped by Scythe Supply to pick up my new scythe. They make the snath (the handle part... ) as a custom piece, sized for each individual buyer. I will put it together tonight and see about starting to mow tomorrow... Mowing Monday has a nice ring to it, and besides I am totally beat today, and the neighbor has had an entire flock of people over with the horses (a church thing, I am guessing... as it IS Sunday) and I really don't want half the town watching me learning to mow.

Put a second coat of paint on the hex blanks in the garage, got a couple of loads of wash out and one out and in already, and I am thinking about calling it time to put the flannel sheets on the bed. It was right chilly last night...

But by the time I got home, about 8 PM, BOY was I beat!

I have been catching up on laundry and am about to decide it is time to put the flannel sheets on the bed. It was right chilly last night.

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