Wednesday, November 4, 2009

An evening to process Chickens

*To my dear vegetarian readers please feel free to skip this post, as I'd never want to upset you in any way!!
It's that time! Yesterday our chickens were processed!
It was done the old-fashioned way, and it wasn't *that* bad :)

We've all really enjoyed having chickens. They were free range during the day, then followed one of us back to the chicken house to roost at night. They *literally* crossed the road, and wouldn't want to come back, so we would send "Ol'Yeller" and they'd be round up, sheepdog style!


At the Chicken Coop...
A friend of ours came to give us instruction since we're beginners, and my father & brother assisted him.
I,, watched from far away!

Here he is about to...*ahem* start. He did it on a cut log which I thought was old-fashioned, (ok, so I was searching for the bright side of the situation) lol! My father's in the foreground holding the...hatchet. heh.

BUT It wasn't messy because instead of letting the chicken frantically run around (and get stains everywhere) He placed the chicken in a clean rubbage bin/trash can to flap around until their life ceased.

Seriously though, you should've seen me...I was taking deep breaths, pacing around trying to convince myself how Pioneer style this! I got used to it though, and the whole family worked together, and it was done quickly. I thought it was good that our instructor showed us what to do, and left us to do it ourselves. I think we all feel prepared enough to do this again in the future.

We were completely finished by sundown, and we'll probably sample one this weekend, and freeze the rest. Oh, just in case you're wondering, we processed 6 organic chickens, and they're all about 5-6 lbs each.
So that's our babystep towards self-sufficiency!


Jenna said...

Way to go Mia and family! I have to say that out of all the animals that we keep, chickens are my least favorite...but yes, the meat is wonderful. Good for you to do the butchering part by yourself:) So far we just bring them to a friend (who's a butcher) because we do over 40 at a time ...cough...!

Watching from made me smile! That's what I did when our hogs were slaughtered. I tried to watch for a little while, but I quickly ran behind the trailer and shut my eyes lol!! The life of a farmgirl:) There is a line isn't there?!

Blessings to you,

Kate said...

I have a young lady friend who just turned 16 who loves butchering from start to finish. I've never actually killed my food, but I've watched. I watched my dad butcher a turkey he hunted. I watched hubby butcher the buck he got a few years ago. I assisted in the butchering and freezing of a bear forearm we were given.

Admittedly, when I watch the wild turkey go through our yard and think about all that good food walking by!

Someone once said that they wonder how many people would become vegetarians if they HAD to kill and butcher their own meats. I countered that if we came to a point in our society that we had to kill and butcher our own meats we'd be working so hard vegetarians probably wouldn't survive. No offense to vegetarians, but read Nourishing Traditions. Meat is a necessary part of the diet of highly active peoples. When we were first married, I went on a health kick and cooked very little meat. Hubby, who works a VERY difficult and labor-intensive job (in the winter, he can easily burn 6,000 calories a day), started wasting away and becoming ill and weak. Red meat was immediately placed back on the menu and he improved greatly.

Anyhoo...sorry, I went off on a soap box tangent...

I'm sure it takes plenty of getting used to. I want to raise quail and that'll involve butchering the cute little birds each fall.

Mia said...

40 chickens?! Wow, I'm sure that's nice to have stocked for future meals!
Yes indeed, I did quite a bit of running that day... :)
I agree--the life of a farmgirl!


Mia said...

Ms. Kate,
Like your friend, my brother *loved* the entire process!
So you've watched alot of processing!
A *bear* forearm?? How interesting!
I love your insight on the subject...It does make me wonder, are there really any *true* wild chickens anymore? Hmm, if we did have to hunt for survival, I think for us chicken would be scratched off the menu (and replaced with deer/turkey whatever was local)


Aunt B said...


This has been my most difficult blog to read, being a vegeterian for over 40 years, you can understand how it would affect me.

Won't it be wonderfull when we get to heaven, wonder if we will be vegeterians there? I sure hope so. Anyway, we can rest assured that it will be good.

I love your blogs, you are such an encouragement to me. I can tell you love the Lord. It shows in the things you write about, the music, etc.

Aunt B

Mia said...

Aunt B,
I understand! This was indeed difficult for me to write, as it isn't pleasant! Our family is learning so much along the journey of having a small farm of sorts...but I'm so sorry this upset you, truly I am!
Thank you for being such a faithful reader~


Anonymous said...

Wow thats awesome! I am sorry we missed the picnic we were one of the families who were able to come on the original date but not the later. 'but we were there in spirit. I was wondering if you with the help of one of your sinlings have a day in the life of post. From when you wake up until yu go to bed with pictures. I knkow that might be difficult but I know alot of us would reallly enjoy that. Gd Bless Yolanda B.

~Rebecca~ said...

My Sweetheart's family raises chickens and have cooked a few of them too!

I LOVE your blog, it is soooo cute! Those vintage photographs are sooo charming!


Stephanie Ann said...

I am a vegetarian for this very reason. But at least you treat your chickens humanely before you kill them. I would interject that historically, chickens were only killed on farms when they stopped producing eggs it's more economical. But, I applaud you, I think if you are going to eat meat, you should see the whole "process."

Regan Family Farm said...

What a big step for your whole family! I'm passing on a tip your daddy might appreciate: we had a family from Ethiopia purchase some live chickens from us and slaughter them on our property. I was a little leary as I thought he wanted me to do it (ugh!), but he was quite willing to do it himself (thank you). Imagine this...a very sharp, trendy couple, mild mannered, dressed to a "tee" in their new BMW SUV. I handed him the butcher knife and though I should have been concerned for the chickens, I was worried about his shoes! He very humanely held the chicken against the ground at the neck area, sliced the esophogus and gently folded the head down to the chest. The bird was surprisingly calm (which I understand helps with plucking) and basically stopped breathing. No flapping, squawking, "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off". They proceeded to place the birds in a dishpan in the back of the spotless SUV!!! Would you believe that there was virtually no blood???? And PS his shoes were untouched!
Mrs. Regan

Mia said...

Ms. Yolanda B,
How nice! That's a great suggestion, we may try that soon! :)
Thank you! I'm so glad you stopped by!
Stephanie Ann,
Thank you for commenting!
I understand--yes, it was definetely an experience, and I'm glad I witnessed it. We don't eat much meat anyway, and if we do, prefer organic/farm raised.
To tell you the truth, that "historical reason" is why we processed the Chickens! We were told they were layers and originally bought them for fresh eggs...well, since they're roosters we could either process or sell them. So that's what we had to work with! lol
Again, thank you for commenting~


Mia said...

Thank you for the tip, Mrs. Regan!!

Meredith Ivy said...

You made it all sound so lovely, Mia! We raise and process 250 chickens every month on our farm (my 18 year old brother raises grass-fed poultry to sell), and truly after a while it doesn't seem gross at all. :)

kelly jo said...

Hi there Mia!

I have been lurking on your blog for quite a while now. I wanted to let you know that I processed chickens TODAY myself.

One way that you can decrease the blood spattering is to kill the chickens a different way than cutting their heads off. We take the chickens very gently and lay them on the ground, then lay a thick broom handle across their neck and press down with force. Once the handle is all the way to the ground, you pull up on the chicken and snap the neck. We usually hang them up to drain then, and cut their heads off to complete the process. It's not *too* bad, as you say.

Anyhow, pass the information on if you want. I wish you and your family the most luck with your endeavors!


Sunny said...

My English Grandfather raised chickens, he would cut off their heads and hang them on the clothes line to drain. I can still see my grandmother with a big tub of water, plucking the feathers and what a smell!
The best of luck to you.
Sunny :)

Brittany said...

Hello Mia,
I grew up on a 10 acre farm, and for a few years we raised LOTS of pasture raised organic chickens. We would "process" about 200 every three weeks. I was always a little bit of a tomboy so it didn't bother me at all. One of my jobs was to cut off the legs!:-)
It's wonderful to have that healthy meat! Congratulations on your first try! :-)

Aunt B said...


I don't usually write two messages, but just want you to be sure and understand. I am not saying what you did was wrong and I am so thankful that you were willing to share with us.

If I were to eat meat, I would want to have my own chicken and do just as you did. Thank you for sharing that experience with us.

Yet, I am so thankful to be an vegeterian. For this I thank the Lord, for I remember how hard it was to quit meat, it was not easy.

God bless you

Aunt B

Stephanie said...

Hi Mia,
I found this post very interesting. We have eight layers and are planning on butchering them when they stop laying.
I can understand how this made you feel. I wasn't sure I could handle it when my dad and brother brought home a deer for us girls to help butcher. But now I just look as it as meat and don't think about how it was running around the woods a few hours before.:)
Was this your first butchering experiance?

Trish said...

when I was a child I watched my grandparents process chickens. I remeber vividly that I didn't feel bad for the chickens I just watched curiously. I hope to someday be able to do those things.

Emily said...

I am very impressed with you and your willingness to learn how to process chickens. We are hoping to someday have chickens - to live more off the land. A very sensitive post that was done in a great light. :) Have a glorious day!

Catherine said...

Hello, Mia! I have been following your blog for some time now but just hadn't worked up the courage to comment. ;)
Our family has owned chickens for about 10 years (we don't anymore) and we tried butchering them one time with a technique that someone had shown us. (Ours were also organic free range chickens) But when we went to eat the meat, we found it so tough and yucky that we decided not to do it again. (This was partially because being free range made them tough and partially because we waited until they were too old.)
Needless to say, we only used them for eggs after that--but I find your family working to be self-sufficient wonderful!

Miss Jen said...

Thank you for sharing with us.
Like Emily said~

"this very sensitive post was done in a great light."

Bless you~ dearest friend.
I can see a pot of homemade
chicken stock coming soon... yum!

Love~ Miss Jen

Becky said...

Hi Mia!
I have truly enjoyed your site, and decided to pick yours as one of the blogs to pass on a Favorite Blog award to. I appreciate the encouragement you give to other yound women. If you wish to participate in the award you can visit my site for the rules.

Becky said...

Sorry for the typo!

The B's said...

Mia, I love your term ~ "process". Sounds a little better, huh?

I have (a) chicken, and I love the self-sufficiency. I just don't think I could go beyond gathering the eggs from her! =)

The Craftivist said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile now and I have to tell you how much I love it! I personally don't look forward to butchering day on our homestead either. I can't seem to bring myself to kill the animals so I make my husband do the actual butchering :P Good for you for learning the process and taking another step towards self sufficiency. At least you know that your chickens had freedom and sunshine and fresh air and as much of a life as a chicken can have before being processed as opposed to the poor chickens that our pushed on people at supermarkets after having been kept in mass cages with little to no room to move their entire lives.

The B's said...

I must add, so I don't sound too sister and I grew up a little like Mary and Laura Ingalls. With "home grown" chicken and beef, and venison every fall hanging to be skinned. I appreciate the old fashioned way of getting meat ~ and humanely. But, I think I'll just leave the process to my daddy!

The Craftivist said...

I also thought I'd add a potentially helpful hint. When we butcher, we use what's known as a killing cone and slit the jugular. Killing cones are about $45 or you can make your own out of galvanized tin sheeting. The cone helps to restrain the bird, and even calms it during the process. That way you don't have any bruised meat or broken wings/legs from the thrashing around. The birds quiet and since you just puncture the jugular it's a fairly easy way to go, the bird basically, when done correctly, is unconcious really quickly (a mere matter of seconds). Anyways, just thought I'd offer that bit of advice for ya!

McKenzie Elizabeth said...

Hello Mia,

Congratulations on learning how to butcher chickens! :>) It really isn't too bad once you get used to doing it. Wow, ya'll are good, We don't eat chicken around here for at least a week after butchering! lol

My mom got a good laugh out of your "Fly Lady 27 fling boogie"! She used to do the Fly Lady thing too.


Anonymous said...

I've been a follower for such a while and feel moved to comment on your lovely chicken processing post! I was a vegetarian for years, but my dh and my little boys are such carnivores, that I began to cook meat again. This quickly led to me wanting to raise our own so that we know how it lived, where it comes from. I'm blessed to have parents who are farmers, so we get our beef from them, raise two hogs every year (one for us, one to sell) and chickens for meat and eggs. It is such a blessing for me to be able to provide my family with the highest quality food that we would other wise would not be able to afford! We also have two milk cows that really make it all possible-they feed everyone on the farm! These animals give us such abundance and good health. I am so thankful for them and thank them and God daily! Thank you for your wonderful blog!

Kelsey Anne Hoppman said...

Hello Mia!
Our family raises chickens, but only for the eggs. They are our pets really. :)
I awarded you with a "Favorite Blog Award" You can visit my blog to see it. I really do enjoy your blog alot Mia. Please keep it up!
Blessings to you and your family,


Rachel said...

Wow! I commend your family for wanting to do it all yourselves like that! :) *applause* I don't know if I could handle that. ;) Lol! I had a hard time just peeling the skin off some chicken breasts that we get in bulk! Haha! But, I have learned how to manage that without getting all grossed out, so I could probably do this time. ;) *gulp*

I bet it's nice to have those few chickens packed away. Have you tired one yet? I was just wondering if there was any taste/texture difference or anything to store bought kinds. :)

Thank you for your lovely comment on our blog! It was such a blessing to see you! :D My dad actually bought me the spring-form pans from a garage sale he was passing by one day. :) I hadn't had one before that. I actually have had the pans for about a year and had never used them yet! Lol!

Blessings in Christ! And thank you for all your posts! The are so enjoyable to see you family working together at your Cottage! :)


Farmgirls said...

I love butchering chickens! (Not exactly the most lady-like thing to do!;)
Almost all of us do it several times a year doing about 75-100 total for the year. Processing your own chickens is certainly more healthy too! :)


Hear Mum Roar said...

You are so brave! We're getting chickens soon too, but I'm too much of a scaredy-cat to eat them, lol

Tracy Bunker said...

Hello Mia,

Your post was very good. Last night I found myself stumped as to what to make for supper. Well, a little light bulb popped up over my head and I stomped up to the chicken house and butchered a rooster given to us by a neighbor. Those were the best chicken quesadillas I'd ever had, and that rooster went from pen to pan before he knew it. Chickens are truly a blessing to have hangin' around, don't you agree? LOL, thank you for another great post.


Naomi K said...

My theory is, that if you butcher animals from the time you're young and you grow up around it, it won't seem disgusting...but it's still not a "fun" job!

Hannah said...

I just found your blog and I like it alot!
Congratulations on butchering your first chickens!!
We raise and butcher chickens too! This year we did 65 and we also helped some friends butcher their 113.
I hope to come back and visit your blog some more...
You are welcome to do the same!

Cinnamon said...

What a beautiful blog you have~ I love your everyday dress. Do you have a pattern you can reference? It's so adorable!


Mia said...

Ms. Cinnamon,
Thank you!!
I didn't sew it myself, but purchased it second-hand. I'm studying it right now to see if I can come up with a pattern similar!
Thank you for your comment!!


Mrs. Bridget G. said...

I had 3 baby chicks once. They died before becoming hens (or roosters). I don't think i could have butchered them. But if i had a farm, i wouldn't mind eating chickens if i didn't or get attached to them. I'd cry. :(

But doing your own chicken is WAY healthier than the supermarket kind.

Mia said...

Mrs. Bridget,
We didn't name them so that helped!
I agree, we did notice that the meat is leaner :)


sheila said...

Yeah for you and your family! One more step to self sufficiency. My sister and I sent 37 chickens, 10 turkeys, and 5 guineas to freezer camp this fall. The ducks and geese got a reprieve because most of them turned out to be females. The ducks are laying well now and I expect geese eggs by Feb.

Mia said...

I'm sure the geese eggs will be nice--they're huge! :)