Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Off With Their Heads!







First, a shout out to T.M. blog follower, who sent me the most amazing email yesterday, thanking us for our work here on The Poor Farm and for sharing it on this blog. Contacts like that are rare in these times, we're all to busy to say Thanks most of the time, so when it happens it is deeply appreciated. Now, the topic of the day...
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Today it is cold and windy, after a night in the low 20's.  The ground, the water pans, the hoses not yet put away, are frozen hard. Leaves have crashed to the ground and the laundry on the line will be stiff before it is dry. Winter is gearing up.

Just five days ago though, the sun was shining warm at a balmy 71 degrees F and as we'd planned for some time, we got to work. It was the end of the line for our broiler chickens.



We purchased our Freedom Rangers late this year but timing still was perfect, as they grew well in our mild Sept. and Oct. weather on fresh grass daily, leftover raw milk and organic grain. They also dined on tasty garden surplus like too ripe watermelon and buggy tomatoes.

It took us about an hour to wash up equipment and set up our killing field, which folks, is how it happens. The animals must be killed before they can be grilled. So often we get these horrified looks when we tell people we butcher our own birds, as if they believe the dead meat in their McChicken sandwiches was never alive at all. Such a total disconnect the average American has from their food. It appears in a can, or a box, or on a restaurant plate, and you eat it. End of story.

But there is so much more, like the living conditions of the animals before death ,which to many, like these "cage free" birds below, must be a real blessing.

Image result for crowded "cage free" chickens in big farms

There is also the food they consume before becoming our entrees of the week, which make all the difference in the taste of the final product and the health of the consumer. The birds above receive grains laced with prophylactic antibiotics, weird by-products and due to their crowded conditions, and pure boredom. the droppings of their nearest feathered neighbor.

Our birds were actually "caged" but in a very large cage, which was moved everyday to fresh ground, fresh grass, fresh new bugs and worms. Our large box had open wire sides so fresh air was a constant, compared to the environmentally controlled atmospheres in chicken factories, allowing the fly and grasshopper buffet to come and go 24/7.




One at a time we brought them up to our designated outdoor kitchen, (above) tied them by the feet, hung them upside down, grabbed their head and a very sharp Mercer knife (Thanks again Chef Tab for tipping me off about these great knives) and quickly slit their throat. We then lowered their body into a PVC tube to control any flapping, which is so minimal, and within a couple seconds, their life's blood has drained away and they are quite dead.




From there a dip and a swish in very hot (145-150 F) water, and then feather removal by our automated feather plucker machine, an investment we made years ago.












Now, the head comes off as the bird is gutted and cut into handy cooking pieces: one breast, one back, two thighs, two legs. two wings.

Even though I know this formula well, I still mange to pack up a bird with either no wings or four wings. Don't ask.



After cut and rinsed, we rinse many times, pieces are patted dry,  placed on a tray and partially frozen in our big freezer. Then they get sealed in our Food Saver. For years we just placed the meat in gallon freezer bags but the meat got freezer burn and many of our birds got made into soup or just chicken salad. Last year we bought the Food Saver and with the birds partially frozen, the air is vaccummed out easily making the final seal super tight.



Between set up, clean up, butchering and freezing, it took two of us 6 hours to do 22 birds. The Food Saver bags are too expensive and the chicks plus feed plus labor to feed and move them everyday, does not equal a cheap meal.

But it does produce an extremely tasty, healthy, self-satisfying one, well worth all our efforts.

13 comments:

  1. We raised meat birds only once. We did not butcher them ourselves, but took them to an Amish family who did this on a regular basis. Although they were a pain to raise (in addition to layer hens which I much prefer), they were raised with access to the outdoors, ate scraps and bugs as well as commercial feed, and they were the tastiest chicken we have ever eaten.

    That was no doubt a lot of work, but the end result will be worth it! -Jenn

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    1. Absolutely a lot of work but most things that take effort, yield a better result.

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    2. Hari ini saya ingin mengunkapkan tentang perjalanan hidup saya,karna masalah ekonomi saya selalu dililit hutang bahkan perusahaan yang dulunya saya pernah bagun kini semuanya akan disitah oleh pihak bank,saya sudah berusaha kesana kemari untuk mencari uang agar perusahaan saya tidak jadi disitah oleh pihak bank dan akhirnya saya nekat untuk mendatangi paranormal yang terkenal bahkan saya pernah mengikuti penggandaan uang dimaskanjeng dan itupun juga tidak ada hasil yang memuaskan dan saya hampir putus asa,,akhirnya ketidak segajaan saya mendengar cerita orang orang bahwa ada paranormal yang terkenal bisa mengeluarkan uang ghaib atau sejenisnya pesugihan putih yang namanya Mbah Rawa Gumpala,,,akhirnya saya mencoba menhubungi beliau dan alhamdulillah dengan senan hati beliau mau membantu saya untuk mengeluarkan pesugihan uang ghaibnya sebesar 10 M saya sangat bersyukur dan berterimakasih banyak kepada Mbah Rawa Gumpala berkat bantuannya semua masalah saya bisa teratasi dan semua hutang2 saya juga sudah pada lunas semua,,bagi anda yang ingin seperti saya dan ingin dibabtu sama Mbah silahkan hubungi 085 316 106 111 saya sengaja menulis pesan ini dan mempostin di semua tempat agar anda semua tau kalau ada paranormal yang bisah dipercaya dan bisa diandalkan,bagi teman teman yang menemukan situs ini tolong disebar luaskan agar orang orang juga bisa tau klau ada dukun sakti yg bisa membantuh mengatasi semua masalah anda1.untuk lebih lengkapnya buka saja blok Mbah karna didalam bloknya semuanya sudah dijelaskan PESUGIHAN DANA GHAIB TANPA TUMBAL

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  2. Apart from the colour your plucking machine looks the same as ours, we also rear ours the same way as you do. We estimate that each bird including cost of chick at a day old is just under eight euros per bird, we have a few select customers whom we supply, they are happy to pay fourteen euros per bird. We also vacuum seal our birds.

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    1. Your folks are getting a great deal. Here, small farm raised pastured birds sell for about $4 a pound or $20-30 per chicken. Many in Chicago very willing to pay the extra for something that tastes better than the cardboard tasting birds in the grocery.

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  3. The day I discovered the hot water method of plucking changed my life for ever. Before then we had sat outdoors pulling out tiny bunches of feathers for hours, and still ended up with a scruffy looking bird.

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    1. Now THAT is a lot of work! Our plucker does a great job after the feathers are softened up in the hot water but that wet, hot, raw chicken smell...not so great.

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  4. I had no idea you could get small plucking machines - how my mother would have blessed you for one of those!! We didn't mind catching them - ours were wild beasts, I didn't mind chopping heads off & cleaning them but no one would pluck them but Mom. All those bloody feathers that stuck to everything - up your nose, in your clothes . . . But, oh boy, did they taste good fried in lard. YOU are seriously organized.

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    1. Are you sure you and Cro above are not brother and sister?

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  5. It's all about organization, planning, having the right equipment and an attitude. (You DO have a certain attitude...). With a willing partner-in-grime, though, you can still do a pretty decent job even if you lack some of the 1st 3. I envy you your future chix & dumplings. I'll have to do with meatloaf. *whine*

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    Replies
    1. Attitude does help as in "Winter is coming dammit, and I need chicken stock!"

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  6. If you were REALLY organized, all the necks, backs & wings would go in bags together for soup!!

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  7. A job well done. I agree with you about the total disconnect of so many folks about where their meat comes from.

    I once offered someone some of our eggs and she said 'no thanks yours have come out of chickens bums, I get mine from the supermarket' ... to say I was speechless would be an understatement!!

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