Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chicken butchering

This morning we went over to Bee Wench Farm  to help with the chicken butchering.   The grand kids had a great time.  They liked walking down the hill to catch the chickens and carry them up to the butchering area.  Boy was carrying the chickens by the feet.  Girl was cuddling it like it was a little kitten.  When the chickens were brought up boy watched as each head was cut off.  Girl didn't want anything to do with it.  Each chicken was individually placed into an orange cone (like the ones used for traffic control).  The narrow end of the cone was cut off to make it easy for the chicken's head to hang through the top of the cone.  Someone would hold the cone up above the 5 gallon bucket and Mr. Bee Wench Farm cut the head off. 

After the head was cut off, the cone was placed on the rim of the bucket.  The chicken was able to start the bleeding out process right over the bucket.  By being in the cone it wasn't able to flop around and make a bloody mess, although there were a couple of times that blood got on other people besides Mr. Bee Wench Farm.  Boy was really please that the front of his pants had chicken blood on them!

 Mr. Bee Wench Farm hung heavy string over the open patio cover.  The chickens were individually hung to bleed. Each chicken hung over its own plastic bucket.  After five minutes or so they were then dunked into the pot of hot water to loosen the feathers.  They had a bbq with a side burner and were able to keep the water hot this way.  The chickens were in the water for about 20 seconds.  The chicken wasn't dunked until someone was available to pull the feathers.  Now it was time to pluck.  Both kids did fine on this although they weren't happy about the ones who "made little messes" after their heads were cut off.  Boy thought that was disgusting.  Sure.  But cutting their heads off and pulling out feathers was just fine!

After a while girl got up enough nerve to go to the bucket where the chicken heads were being dropped into and the initial bleeding was done.  Not too bad she thought. 

I watched the first one get gutted and cleaned.  Can I try?  Sure.  This was easy enough although I kept having trouble getting the lungs out.  After a few I got the hang of it.  Girl was watching, telling me that it was gross, yet playing with the cut off chicken feet!  Then, miracle of miracles, girl wanted to try.  (Boy was too busy playing with Bee Wench boy) She cut off the feet herself and got the nerve to cut open the chicken cavity and pull the innards out. 

While we were there 15 chickens were butchered.  We had leave for our two hour drive home, leaving our hosts with a couple more chickens to do on their own.  We had a great time.  I told the kids how pleased I was that they learned this new skill.  After all, most kids their age, and adults too, think that chicken comes in the plastic bag from the grocery store.  There is no connection between the clucking creature and the food we eat. 

We have half a dozen chickens that need to be butchered at our house.  Next weekend I'm going to see who wants to come over and we will have a butchering party.  Sounds kind of morbid!  OK, I'll include apple cider to keep us warm rather than having to warm our hands by holding chicken guts.  Thanks Bee Wench Farm!


  1. I just learned this skill(sorta) a year ago. Your grandkids sure are lucky!

  2. Sounds like fun. If you want help, we may be available.

  3. Any of the locals who want to come next Saturday, send me a comment with your email and we can get it set up. I won't post the comment so others won't get the email.

  4. When I was a kid and we had Chickens I use to skin them. Yes I know there is a lot of folks that love have the skin on. But I hated plucking feathers.
    I'm female and I started with cleaning trout and catfish. While the anatomy is different the consepts are the same and it seemed to me starting with fish made it easier to move onto other animals.

  5. Thanks again for all your help! It was great to meet you!


  6. I'm sorry to say we can't make it Saturday. Baseball/job commitments will get in the way. Let us know if things change.

  7. If you are off school next week let me know if any days during the week are good. We don't have to butcher on the weekend.

  8. Yes, I'm off next week. Tuesday is bad, but pick a day that will work. We'd love to meet and help. We could help you and do some shopping in Fresno also.

  9. Monday? Sounds like a good chicken butchering day!