Sunday, June 16, 2013

Because You Can't Spell Slaughter Without Laughter

Now, I certainly don't want to make light of our Saturday chore, but I think the coping method of our Crew is to share in laughter. A couple Saturdays ago, was Slaughter Day - our Cornish hens had reached the 8 week mark and it was time, although we all were kinda both excited and dreading the day. Remember, we weren't raised on a farm, we don't hunt (yet?), we are kind, loving souls and don't go around killing things for the fun of it. We raised these chickens for the past 8 weeks, making sure to not get attached - but you see them grow from sweet baby chicks to these chunky, meaty creatures and know it is time to make them into dinner. We eat meat. We don't have any plans to stop eating meat. Now, we all know where our meat comes from, how it grows, and how it dies. Our birds were treated very well - with both inside and outside room to roam. We treated them kindly. We offered them plenty of food and water and even pet them occasionally. They weren't raised under terrible conditions, shoulder to shoulder, cruelly thrown about or stepped on. They didn't have to live a terrible life, just to die a terrible death. We respect these birds and are thankful that they gave their lives to feed our family.
We offered up for all of our friends and family to come and learn about the experience with us - we did have a few takers. My cousin, Rhett, is always down for the experience, my friend, Alysia and the family of one of Drake's friends came out. We ended up slaughtering 8 of the 10 birds, we still have two that had a bit of a reprieve and will need to be slaughtered soon.
WARNING :: Here is where I get a little more descriptive and the photos will start - so if you are sensitive to or offended by this process, please stop reading this post and come back for the next one.

We had planned on starting the process at 1:30 on Saturday, but as usual, crazy things happen around here and we just cannot get started when we expect (this time..Cora got a concussion after crashing on her bicycle - she's ok, but it was scary and then one of the wheels started to come off our van - WHILE I WAS DRIVING - fortunately, I pulled to the side before anything bad happened and the tire company that recently put all new tires on our van helped us out - with these things happening during the week, it set the rest of the week, including slaughtering day, off a bit. We got to the house (after picking up some supplies and snack food) around 2:00-2:30 and our guests had already arrived. We still needed to put together some sort of contraption to hold the chickens during the process - so Mark built an amazing wood structure that was rectangular on the top - with a square on each end to hold a cone. He attached legs to get it off the ground. It was perfect.

I really don't like pictures of me, especially from the back, but hey, this chicken slaughtering day and I had to pose fancy. Our dog, Blue, was interested in the whole process. Our can see the contraption in the background.
Here's Mark and me with the slaughter set up. Yes, we used traffic cones. There are kill cones, that are a little spendy and since we weren't sure that this was a process that we wanted to continue with, we didn't want to invest too much money. We heard that traffic cones are sometimes used - so we tried it out and are very happy we did that. The cost was minimal.
Here's me - picking out our first bird.
Got her!
Handing the bird off to Mark.
Here's Mark, holding the chicken upside - it makes it docile and chill.
Here's Mark, Rhett, Drake and Blue - trying to figure out if the cone is short enough for the head to come down through. We had to cut a portion of the cone off, since it was too deep - see the part Mark has in his right hand?

We decided to move the structure to the back of our property - 1) so we didn't have blood splattered all over our driveway and 2) we wanted to make sure that we were tucked back a bit and didn't freak out our neighbors too much (although, I really don't think it would have been too much of a big deal for them).
Here are the turkeys - they didn't get slaughtered, but they sure were interested in what was going on.
Here's Mark making the first cut. It broke his heart a little bit - he felt bad about taking the life of the chicken. I'm extremely proud of him.
The chicken tucked back in for a second, while the blood began to flow out. We thought that it would take a while for it to bleed out, but it was over really very quickly. There was some thrashing, but due to being in the cone it was minimized to just twitching around. It was sad. The kids said that it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be - but that they didn't like it. I explained to them that none of us LIKE it and if they did like it, I'd be worried. This is something done out of necessity, not enjoyment.
Still draining out a bit. We placed the 5 gallon buckets underneath the birds to catch the blood
When the first bird was cut, it pooped itself and since it was upside down, the poop shot out of its bottom and landed on Mark's leg. Poor Mark, paybacks are hell.
I had read that if you hose off the birds, after they are drained out and before you scald them - it cuts down on the smell.
Mark got two birds at one time. Does that mean we are farmers now?
Spraying down the birds.
Do you like the way my headband matches my gloves...I'm a classy farmer. The kids are watching and learning while I defeather - Blue is offering her "assistance" with the birds. Behind me, we had a propane two-burner stove, with a pot of scalding water on it. We would dunk the birds in and swirl them around - before bringing them to the table for defeathering.
More defeathering.
Here's the propane set up. This was such a nice set up.
Drake swirling a bird in the water. He was probably the most involved child (go figure, that's my Drake). He also chopped off a head.
Like I said, not a fan of pictures of me...but this shows David, Kait's boyfriend helping too.

David pulling out the guts.
I have more photos on Mark's phone and will load them with the next post. But after the 8 birds were slaughtered and gutted, my friend Alysia went inside and washed them all down. She got them bagged and in the cooler for us. We let the birds rest for a couple days, on ice. Some went into the freezer after that and we ate two almost immediately. We roasted them with some potatoes....and I realized that chicken actually has flavor. It was delicious and we are already ready to place our next order....


  1. I think it's such an important part of living a self-sufficient life. Good on you guys!

  2. Well Done. I am proud of you and your family. Such a journey you are one and this is yet another milestone. Gosh, brings back so many childhood memories and so it will be with your children. I must say, i like your contraption and the cones. Well Done Mark. He's being all manly and earning an income - what more could you want. I wish the naysayers in your life could see you fly.

    So glad to see a post from you. Much Love.