Friday, October 29, 2010
Today I learned an important life lesson and I am glad.
When I went to bed last night I had never killed another living thing in my life besides insects. Never ever, I had never even seen something killed. My dad doesn't hunt and my husband hasn't since before we were married.
Do you remember when I blogged about my chickens before? And I wondered how you could tell if they were roosters or hens? Well out of the 10 chicks we got 8 of them are roosters. I was so wrong in that post! That is entirely too many roosters in the hen house and we needed to downsize the number of roosters to one. I asked my husband to find me an Amish to do it and well he did - I love that guy!
So today I had my first experience with death of an animal and it wasn't as bad as I had always envisioned. Maybe it was the lovely Amish lady that did most of the dirty work, maybe because of how fast she was and how she just kept talking and teaching the whole time. I learned really where my dinner was coming from and how a life needed to be lost for us to eat it. I learned that was OK, and how God meant it to be.
You see this morning I went and picked up that Amish lady who raises 25,000 chickens every 6 weeks to sell - when you buy "Amish raised chickens" it could be one of theirs. I didn't know that when I went to get her - my husband set it up.
To say she is a professional is a understatement. Mary is her name. I wasn't sure what I was getting into - boiling plucking etc. Well she brought a sharp kitchen knife and that was it. No cone, no boiling water - just a super sharp kitchen knife.
My son caught the roosters for her and GET THIS - in order to kill them she just held them by the feet and stepped on their heads and pulled - yes she just pulled the body off the head. It was super quick and the first time I was amazed. They really do run around without a head, I guess I just thought it was an old wives tale or something. I didn't actually kill any - I am not strong enough to do it quickly, and that is what you want is to just get it done quick. She kills 20 - 30 chickens in a couple hours at home in the same way. Mary told me that when you are doing it alone it is safer than trying to cut their necks because they move around and you can miss and hurt yourself or not kill the chicken quickly.
Our coop is out by our pond and so we set up a table with a couple big buckets of cold water and she set to work. She skinned them and gutted them and well - it was very interesting - really not gross at all. I didn't actually do that part - I was running back and forth for things from the house - buckets of cold water, a table etc. She did show me how to do it - we only had about an hours time to do it in and she was so much faster. What was super interesting was the stomach - it was full of feed, about the size of a tennis ball. We opened it and spread it back on the ground.
I saved the heart and liver and gizzards - not sure how I am going to cook them. I also saved the feet for stock - not the heads, that was a bit much. We did throw them in the pond for the fish - so they weren't wasted.
Mary thought it was funny I wanted the feet - she said only the Mexicans ask for them around here - I laughed and told her how they make great stock! She said I could have as many of hers as I wanted for free! I am super excited about that.
After Mary killed one of the chickens she tossed it on the ground and it ran right into the pond - it was a funny sight - my son had to fish the headless chicken out. I know it sounds horrible and maybe I have a weird sense of humor but I so wish we had a video of it.
What I thought was the grossest part of it all, not skinning them, not gutting them, heck not even killing them was when some of the other chickens got out and kept eating the heads - so gross! Cannibalism - I thought that was just too gross.
This was a real Amish lady - she was a treat, she just couldn't understand why anyone would prefer my backyard chickens to her "free range, organic feed" ones. She kept assuring me they were super healthy -no antibiotics.
But an interesting thing was that mine were way harder to kill and butcher - the bones were harder. One reason was age - 6 weeks to 6 months but I also think that being able to roam around, in the sun eating bugs and other lovely things made the bones stronger. I could be wrong. She also said mine had about as much meat as hers. But hers are bred as meat chickens and mine aren't.
I am not posting any of the pictures here - except for the lovely chickens above still alive and then these two of them soaking in water. If you want to see a couple of the in between pictures - like me on facebook and check them out.
To be honest I wasn't sure about blogging this experience, but I was encouraged by some dear friends. And really I just wanted to share. And perhaps encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. We are so far from really knowing where our food comes from, 60 or 70 years ago almost everyone knew how to butcher a chicken or at least knew that was where their dinner came from. Not today, most children don't have any idea where their nuggets come from. It is sad really.
Trust me if I can do it anyone can - I have always been afraid of all things animal - but I am so glad I experienced this today and now I know I can do it - and it gives me a feeling of empowerment.
I am linking this to The Hearth and Soul Hop - hosted by moi and my 3 lovely fellow bloggers!
This is also being linked to Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist
and Simple Lives Thursday at A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade