Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Few Good....Chickens??

Our chicken population is at the "we have too many" mark.  The ones that the kids hatched out from the 4-H project are different from our chickens (which are California Whites)  We've never been sure what type the others are.  There are some distinguishing qualities though...like the fact that they are very plump...to the point of not being able to walk well...I think they are bred that way. Anyway, they also do not lay eggs.  I guess you know that feeding livestock who do not in some way, shape, or form, give back is not very productive farming.  
With that in mind, we decided to make these passive chickens feel like they are giving back.  :)  On Saturday, we chose two lucky birds to be the proud initiates in the Fox Farm Hall of Fame...there's fame to be had in being first...right??  
We read online that optimum water temperature for plucking is 150 degrees...check.  
Needed a place to build a fire to boil the water....check.
Had to rig up something to hang them on to pluck....check.
And, had to have a sharp instrument to ...well, you know....check.
(I'm going to give you a warning here...if you do not want to hear about my first chicken please do not continue to read...it's quite gross ...and you may feel differently about me...and decide that farm life is not a good thing...and that I'm totally crazy....If however, you remind yourself that your female ancestors took a chicken from coop to table singlehandedly and didn't give it a second thought, you might feel comfortable reading on.... :)
We got the water boiling and chose two chickens.  I'm not sure at what point I decided I wanted to make one of the chickens meet their demise myself, but I was firm in my decision.  I guess I figured if my great grandmother could do it, so could I...and so it was decided.  We got the water boiling and Darren took care of the first one.  Then it was my turn...oh my!  But I will spare you all the gory details and just suffice it to say that it happened and we were on to plucking...  One chicken ended up on the smoker, and one went into a pot for chicken and dumplings. 
Now you may wonder if I felt bad or guilty ...but really, these chickens weren't pets.  We've had a few of those, but these weren't.  They lived well; they got to free-range; and in the end they provided meat for the table.  That's not a bad thing.  It is the natural course of farm animals.  And I can feel good in knowing that my children were eating clean chicken....no antibiotics, no hormones, not cooped up in a teeny, tiny cage.  This was purely farm raised and I'm right at proud of that :)

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