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I still can’t say I’ve killed a chicken.

If discussion of butchering and processing chickens (although nothing graphic, I promise) is likely to bother you, you should probably stop here. I’m even sticking this under a cut tag, although some feed platforms don’t honor those, hence this warning up top.

But I can tell you that I am a dab hand at butchering them after Sunday. Daniel and I went down to Blackthorn, where an assorted group of red broilers and spare roosters awaited. Some of my gentle readers are doubtless dismayed and disappointed and possibly even offended at this point, but hey. I eat meat, and I deeply believe that if I’m going to eat meat, it should be the meat of animals who had good lives and who were killed quickly and humanely. These days, the best way to do that if you’re on a budget is to see to your meat yourself, so that’s what we did.

It went better than I expected, to be truthful. The chickens died quickly and calmly, and then Christine or Daniel skinned them (we didn’t have facilities to scald them for plucking) and passed them off to me. I loosened up the connections to the intestinal tract, took off the necks and the feet, got Christine to reach in and pull the innards out (shamefully I must admit that reaching into the still-warm body cavity of a chicken and grabbing a handful of guts will make me gag and puke), and then separated out the livers and hearts before quartering the carcass and dropping the pieces into a cooler of ice water to chill quickly.

There is a definite and odd sort of satisfaction to seeing to your food this way, but it’s also work, as so much of farming is. We ended the day worn out, but with six chickens processed, bagged, and stuck in the fridge to age for a few days before going into the freezer. We stumbled a few times in the beginning, but by the end I think it was taking us about ten or fifteen minutes to get one done, converted from a living chicken to cold meat.

There’s also something more meaningful about the chickens we processed. As modern urbanites, we’re pretty used to there being a sharp divide between the living chickens that provide us with eggs and comic relief, and the chicken we buy at the grocery store to eat for a meal. No more, for me at least. I was part of it as the birds went from living creatures to meat for the table, and I find myself even more uncomfortable with supermarket meat now, that allows us to be so completely disconnected from where our food comes from.

Not that I’m making plans to butcher cows or hogs. They’re a bit large. Or even goats, at the moment, although meat goats would be more feasible for our property than cows or hogs. I do however find myself looking thoughtfully at rabbits.

3 thoughts on “I still can’t say I’ve killed a chicken.

  1. I’ve been contemplating rabbits too. On youtube there is a guy that makes a device for quickly killing rabbits. He makes it look SO easy. I think it was called the rabbit wringer?

    I haven’t gotten there yet… but want to try rabbit meat and see if I like it.

    1. In the end, a good knife proved to be the most effective tool for dispatching chickens, although a hatchet did come into play once or twice. Also the phrase “Rabbit Wringer” just makes me picture Inquisition-esque tortures!

  2. Goats and rabbits are pretty easy to “process,” though not as easy as chickens. Congrats on getting through your first batch! There’s nothing like the taste of fresh meat whose origin and happiness you know of first-hand.

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