Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is Self-Sufficiency for the Birds?

It was today at the Abrahamsons'.  Joe and I butchered the last five of our chickens.

When we did the first and second batches of butchering, I was conveniently busy with other things.  The kids were home, so Joe put them to work helping him.

But now almost all our children are in Public Schools.

So today mom got to help.

(I learned that linguistic trick while playing cards with our good friends Alex and Carrie during Joe's seminary years.  "I have to go first?"  I'd ask.  Alex would always reply, "No, Mary, you get to go first.")

So yes, I got to help butcher chickens.

I have written periodically in the past about my desire for self-sufficiency.  And how the older I get, the harder it is to really want to bother.  The grocery store is pretty convenient, isn't it?   I don't really like to try new things anymore.  And I am content and fulfilled already.  I no longer need to prove how tough or strong or bold I am.

But today I learned something new.  I am now tougher and stronger and bolder than I was this morning.

I got to hold the chopping block steady while my husband chopped off the fowl heads. (Yes, the pun is definitely intended.)  By the time we did the last one I wasn't even shutting my eyes, though.

I got to pluck the feathers off the hanging birds.

After the first two birds were done, and we saw how much more quickly it went with mom helping as opposed to the kids, we decided to just forge ahead and finish the job in one sitting. 

After that, I got to be more involved so Joe could carry on handling the plucked birds.  (The gutting and cutting, etc that I am still not tough or strong or bold enough to want to do.)

I got to catch the flopping chicken bodies by the legs.

I got to dip them into the boiling water.

I got to dip them into the cold water.

I got to hang them by the foot from the noose.

And I got to pluck them.

Am I cool or what?

Oh, and by the way,  when you set your beheaded chicken down and he starts a-flopping, make sure he is far enough from the house so he does not fall into a window well.  Not a pretty sight.  Guess what we get to do tomorrow?


madhenmom said...

Ha! I was thinking of you two yesterday and wondering if you did something special for your anniversary. At first when I read this, I thought you did the butchering yesterday. Now I see it was just cleaning up the bloody window well. Hopefully you were able to do that together!

That's one reason I don't want to raise chickens. Butchering is definitely not for me.

I hope you did something special for your anniversary.
The couple that butchers together ... (I got nothing - at least nothing better than 'mocks Ashton Kutcher together' :))

Anonymous said...

Oh my. Your closing sentences get an Uffda.


theMom said...

Uffda is right, Barb. Frightening! Thankfully Joe was the one to hop down there and contain the flopper.

It wasn't so bad, Char, once we got going. The anticipation was worse than the actually work.

I've got nothing better for a butcher rhyme either. I'll have to think on that one.

A Stafford said...

I read an article in the Star Tribune in the past few months about the trend toward wanting to know where your meat comes from--in response, a farm in southern MN opened their doors to teach people how to butcher their own chickens. The journalist took the class with 4 or so other women. It was very interesting reading how each woman reacted to the death of the animal and the gore that followed.

Kudos to you!

Anonymous said...

There is available for purchase a device called a 'killing cone', wherein you stuff the bird head first, then slit the throat. Much cleaner and you get a better bleed-out.
Some people of ethnicity would then make blood sausage - a bit too far for me.
Years ago, my mother would pin the wings back and hold the bird until it quit squirming. {{{{{{shudders}}}}} That's REALLY too far for me, but much cleaner than letting it run around with its head cut off.
Have you ever lifted a detached head by its comb and make the thing cluck by jigging it up and down? Lightens the mood......

As Ever,

theMom said...

we've never tried to make one cluck, but we do like to take the legs and make the claws open and close by manipulating the tendons.

One of my favorite picture books is Tomie DePaula's autobiographical "Tom," in which he helps behind the butcher counter of his grandparents' grocery store, "Wop. Wop, wop." That's the head and then feet. Then Grandpa shows Tomie how to make the feet "work".

Tomie takes them home and paints the claws. Then he takes the chicken feet to school and scares all the girls. Suddenly it is a teacher and not a classmate who he frightens. Oh, oh.

It's a great book.

We had many sets of talons with painted claws sitting around.

Thanks Tomie.