Blog Archive

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Meat-Tastic Weekend

Goodness, this past Saturday was very meaty.

That morning, my friend and labmate, Hannah, came over with her rooster.  She and her housemates had been in denial that their super-sized chicken, Fig, was in fact a rooster rather than a hen.  When he started crowing at dawn last week, her household quickly decided that he had to go (so did their neighbors).

I got a panicked text from her last Tuesday while Eddie and I were at the train museum.  She needed to know if I could assist her in dispatching him.  Of course!

Back in December, I took a chicken harvesting class in Sacramento...and while I don't fancy myself an expert, I knew we could figure it out.

So one night last week, Eddie and I went to the hardware store to pick up some aluminum flashing and made ourselves a 'killing cone.' I sharpened a knife, gathered some pots of hot and iced water, found a suitable gut bucket, and tied some rope on the fence.

Hannah and her roommate, Chris, a law student, came over around 11 am.  By 2 pm we each had a chicken carcass ready to cook and had washed/sterilized all the materials used in the slaughter.  (I figured if we were going to harvest one chicken, why not two?  Mine will all turn into food at some point before we move anyway.  Eddie chose Vindaloo.)

I debated letting Eddie watch me kill our chicken and after discussing it with Dave we figured he'll see it eventually so why not start now?  Dave held Eddie in his arms while we did it, just in case he needed some comfort.  While the birds were draining on the fence, the neighbor kids and their grandmother came over to see what we were doing (we were in the front yard).  It turns out they were super interested, and the grandmother explained to us that her family used to harvest chickens when she was a girl.

Overall, it went just fine.  I'm not sure we killed mine as swiftly as I would have liked since her neck feathers were quite dense.  But after a second swipe of the knife ensured her passing.  Practice makes perfect, I guess, and I do want to get it right so my birds can "go" as humanely and painlessly as possible.
Killing cone.

Hen and rooster.  Thanks for your sacrifice.
Our set up.
Mary Jane came to watch Hannah clean her rooster.

My first home-harvested bird.

It was a fun science experiment to harvest a male and a female at the same time.  We got to explore their insides, comparing the testes to the collection of eggs inside the hen.  Vinny had a series of eggs inside her, of various sizes so that was interesting.  Chris definitely winced when we cut open a testicle to see what was inside...nothing, in particular, as it turns out.  They were just solid white organs.  I figured we'd see tubes or something.  Either way, it was neat experience.

L to R: Ovaries with lots of eggs attached, a series of four yolk sacks, and a small calcified egg.  The orange "eggs" were just yolk sacks and the small blue egg was only egg whites inside.  Interesting.  Vinny was a nearly 3 years old so I'm not surprised that her ovulation got messed up.
Testes on the left, Vinny's largest yolk sack on the right.
After Hannah left, I had time to jump into the shower to scrub off the dead chicken stink, gulp down some coffee and a granola bar, go to the store to buy 35 pounds of pork shoulder, and then bolt over to my professor's house for our annual sausage making party (which lasted until 9:30 pm...).  Whew.  But that'll be in another post.

1 comment:

steph.kelley said...

Meaty indeed! Wow, I wish I coulda been there for your chicken day. Comparing innards and seeing how the harvesting and butchering is done — I'd love it. Whatever you do to de-feather seems surprisingly effective! Kudos to you. You are an inspiration. xoxo