***WARNING: This post contains graphic images.***
This past weekend was the first (and possibly last) Nicoll Family Chicken Slaughtering Festival.
Trust me, it was as delightful as it sounds.
All in all, there were 10 of us that tackled 50 chickens. We each had a job.
Here, you see the "meat birds". We've been talking about these bad boys for a couple of months now. Will knew that 10 of them were ours, but he was confused because he could never pick out which ones. God bless him.
We had lovely catchers. They calmed the chickens. They sang them songs on the way to meet their maker. We thought it best that they have sweet faces to look into for those final moments. Heaven forbid they end their lives with visions of Dallas, Seth or Beau. No one would want that. The catchers were Kallie, Sierra, Abby and Kristie.
Dallas and Seth played the part of executioners. We put the chickens upside down in these cones with their head sticking out the bottom. From there Dallas or Seth would slit their throats, and they would bleed out into a barrel filled with sawdust. It was brutal. Dallas thought it was cool. I just couldn't take pictures of what we affectionately called "The Killing Cones."
After what we were assured was a Painless death, they were handed to Beau- our plunger and plucker- he held the birds upside down in 150 degree water for 30 seconds before throwing them into the plucking machine.
After that, they showed up at Mark's and my table- the gutters. That's right! PW ain't got nothin' on me. I'm not afraid to get a little dirty if I have to.
Towards the end Mark and I provided Seth and Dallas with a little gutting tutorial. They were a little too excited.
After the birds were cleaned out, they went to Phyllis- the old pro. She cleaned 'em up and put them in the barrel full of cold circulating water.
The chickens stayed in the barrel for four hours while we all got cleaned up and took a nap. The chicken "harvesting" took only 3 hours- from about 6:30 until 9:30 AM. At 2:00 PM Mark, Phyllis, Kristie, Sierra, Seth and I gathered around cutting boards and separated the pieces and put them into bags for the freezer. This process took another 3 hours.
Believe me when I say that I didn't care to see another chicken for the rest of the day.
In all honesty, the whole process wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Plus, it was good for us! I can now say that I can take a chicken from pecking the ground, to the dinner table, all by myself!
How's that for bragging rights?