Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The couple that kills together, stays together...

Once upon a time this blog was about my journey into chicken farming.  Although I have continued that journey, I have failed miserably at documenting most of it.  And by "most of it" I mean that the last picture you guys saw of my meat birds was about 6 weeks ago when they were just coming into their adolescent dino-baby ugliness, and yesterday was their slaughter day.  Whoopsie.  But this I have to tell you about, especially if you started reading my blog because you were hoping to gain some insight into raising chickens, and have (thank you) hung on through all of my rambles about lipstick shades and paddleboarding.  

Now, most people send their animals away to be slaughtered.  The standard practice is to load as many chickens as possible into a dog crate, put the crate in your car, tell them they're going to a newer, happier farm, drop them off, walk away, and come back in a few days to pick up your perfectly packaged dinner items.  This is fantastic because it keeps you close to the process while you raise them, but then lets someone else do the dirty work of looking into their eyes at the end.  Oh, but not us.  No way.  We have to be the 2 cheapest, most stubbornly independent DIY-ers the world has ever seen.  So Hubby and I figured that we had what it took to take this on.  With his experience as a chef, and one of his intern places having an up-scale butchering operation in-house, my experience being Annie Oakley against a backyard varmint (or 3), and both of us having watched every single episode of Dexter, we figured we would be pretty OK at it.  
We actually weren't wrong which, for the sake of humane treatment of our chickens, was pretty awesome.  For the sake of still thinking we were even a tiny bit "normal," well, that went sailing out the window yesterday.  If you want to have the weirdest day EVER with your husband, set up the following series of events for the day... Watch the YouTube video about slaughtering chickens for the 3rd time just to make sure you've really got it all, set up a "kill room" in your back yard, both of you wear matching (white!) outfits (in our defense, my husband has about a thousand chef coats and aprons kicking around, and they made really great disposable suits that were also perfect for keeping some of the beating sun off our backs), then take turns being the "holder" or the "cutter."

I learned 6 things yesterday that I will share with you if you think you might want to consider slaughtering your own farm animals.
1.  Killing something with a knife is harder than killing something with a gun.  Not harder physically, harder psychologically.  
2.  8 birds was the absolute maximum amount I would want to do by ourselves.  Next year we're planning on getting more birds than we did this year, and after yesterday's reality check, are seriously considering having someone else slaughter them for us.
3.  I totally married the right guy.  I mean, of course I new that before yesterday.  I'm just saying that yesterday's events were really bizarre, and even though taking turns killing things is not a date a ever want to go on again, if I had to, it would be this exact guy that I'd want to have next to me.
4.  I'm really glad we didn't name the meat birds.  So was my husband.  I know this because he actually said so mid-slice on one of the first ones we did.  I've already told him that we're either sending the egg birds away when it's their time in a couple years, or he's doing them himself.  I already know I'll cry.
5.  I'm also really glad we did a lot of research on the most humane ways to get the job done.  None of it felt "nice," but it did feel better knowing that we chose the method that would cause the least amount of suffering (which also benefited us, because it causes the least amount of damage to the meat when the animal is relaxed through the process).  If you're wondering, we used the method from the YouTube video I linked to above.
6.  I still wholeheartedly love Dexter, and can't wait until this Fall when Season 7 starts.

Thanks for stopping by,

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