My First Ever Freezer Camp Experience, With an Unexpected Twist!

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by Chickenfan4life, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. Chickenfan4life

    Chickenfan4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I'll start this thread off by saying that I have always wanted to be a part of the actual chicken-butchering process because, while it's sad and somewhat disturbing at first, I like knowing how my food was raised and, if alive, killed before the age of the big food industries that mass produce ready-to-eat chickens that people don't think twice about eating.

    I wanted to know more than just the fact that my chicken came wrapped in plastic, sitting on a Styrofoam platter. So I found out the date for the butchering and decided to attend, after some conflict with the other, more squeamish side of me.

    My neighbors ordered their chicks from Country Hatchery. They ordered 10 Rhode Island Red hens and 2 roosters. They didn't ask for the hatchery to not send the "packing peanuts", so they also got close to 50 cockerels. After some thought as to what to do about this, my neighbors decided to butcher those extra roos. They were to do it one day soon.

    Today was that day.

    At 8 AM he had his family over to help him, and I came over to help out.

    Having never killed a chicken in my life, let alone plucked and gutted one, I was entirely new to this entire thing. Luckily for me, they were willing to show me along in the process. The neighbors, not the chickens, that is. The method used was just the simple killing cone. He brought five birds at a time into the backyard and simply cut their throats.

    I helped bring the birds, but was not nearly brave enough to cut the throat. Watching was enough for me. After all five birds from that batch were killed, I would help bring them back to the tables where they were briefly scalded, plucked, cleaned, gutted, and then promptly plopped into a cooler of ice and water.

    After all five birds were done being prepared, I helped to catch the next five, and they were slaughtered in the same way as the last batch.

    Once there were only 15 birds left, and we were moving the next batch to the "gallows", I noticed something: there was a pullet in the bunch of doomed cocks! My neighbor already knew this and intended to butcher her out anyways. With some help from my sister, we convinced him to keep her.

    So she was saved just in the nick of time!

    The entire event, from plucking them to putting them into the ice box at the end of every batch, was, in some strange way, fun. I had never known how much work it took to get your food, back in the days when we didn't have commercial meat chicken industries such as Tyson.

    Learning more about the anatomy of the chicken by gutting it, and learning how pluck one, that was all rather enjoyable for me. When the necks were cut on the doomed roos, my spirits were dampened, as that was sad and somewhat traumatic, but I managed to get over it. After all, these birds have lived a wonderful life, eating the produce from his gardens and living in a sort of luxury till their death, which was swift and done in moments, save for the muscle reflexes after the slit neck.

    I would have got photos, but there wasn't a moment that I didn't have either water, chicken guts, or wet feathers clinging to me. [​IMG]

    So, all in all, my first chicken-butchering experience was somewhat educational, if not kind of fun, too. I know if is weird to find the fun in yanking the feathers off a chicken's still-warm carcass, or pulling out their guts, but it was enjoyable to work with the others and help out, while learning at the same time.

    And if you do not agree 100% percent with my enjoyment of this day, please do not say so. I have not tried to offend you in any way and I hope there are people out there who can agree with me that learning about how my food is prepared can be enjoyable.

    Thank you very much for reading. Please comment if you have a positive opinion on this thread!

    ~Hannah
     
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I'm glad for your positive experience! I've only processed one bird here, a human aggressive cockerel whose genes I did not want passed on to his progeny. I did have some slight pangs, but he did not suffer in the least-DH took his exacto blade and punctured the carotid artery in the neck while he hung from a tree and he simply bled out and passed away, with almost no flapping at all. It was a peaceful death for him and he lived a pampered life prior to that day, as all my birds do. I don't process my birds, but I remember seeing my grandparents and parents do it on the farm when I was a kid, not to mention butchering the hogs as well.

    That cockerel made the most excellent chicken stew I've ever tasted.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2013
  3. Chickenfan4life

    Chickenfan4life Overrun With Chickens

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    The neighbors just gave us two birds. I am ever so anxious to try a bird that has been raised at home! It will be even more satisfying knowing that I helped to do my part with processing the bird by scalding and plucking the bird!
     
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I, too, enjoyed reading your post. I have not yet butchered any chicken, although I did attend a friend's Freezer Camp Event to learn. They processed 11 meaties that day.

    I was fine, learning anatomy and the evisceration process, just not watching the the actual Make Them Dead Moment until the third chicken was carried past me to the Killing Zone and she CLUCKED in confusion.

    Lost it. I left the cleaning table and walked into their house to sit and sniffle for a while. When my friend came to check on me after a few more chickens were done, I explained through sobs I had HEARD the pullet's confusion in her clucks. "Of course she was confused, but it was over quickly. She had a good, short life - meaties don't grow up and have families, Linda, her life was sacrificed to feed us.". She convinced me to come back outside when I was ready.

    My friend's 16 year old step-daughter was learning how to eviscerate chickens. She was solicitous, especially when I explained about the clucking. The next chicken being carried by also clucked, but as the first sound escaped her, the 16 year old's eyes got wide and she suddenly started to cough into her hand. A fake cough, to cover the chicken's cluck!

    It made me laugh. "Nice try - it ALMOST worked!". She admitted she acted instinctively - apparently "all" high school students learn to cough in class when a fellow student's cell phone rings. She thought the circumstances warranted the tactic.
    :lau

    So, I am still working to overcome my own squeamishness.
     
  5. CinnamonQueen

    CinnamonQueen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for sharing!
     
  6. Chickenfan4life

    Chickenfan4life Overrun With Chickens

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    OMG, thanks for sharing your post! [​IMG]
     
  7. Mr MKK FARMS

    Mr MKK FARMS Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I went to a local butcher and got all my mean cockerels 'chopped' (They tasted good). The whole thing was a learning experience. [​IMG]
     
  8. Chickenfan4life

    Chickenfan4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Cool! I enjoyed learning something new today!
     
  9. Mr MKK FARMS

    Mr MKK FARMS Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Good! [​IMG]
     
  10. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    I am happy you had a good experience. Like all things in life it helps to have a good teacher. I'm too afraid I will not.
     

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