Good bye city life! Our family designed and built an industrial but old fashioned farmhouse on nine acres. Now we are building our homestead ~ or is it building us? Grab your boots and join us on our journey to country living.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Harvesting (aka Butchering) Chickens

I'm told that's the correct term now.  Our oldest goes to an agriculture college where they talk about such things.  After the work that went into raising our Freedom Rangers, we wouldn't want to butcher them, would we?  Actually, we did!  We were concerned about being too sympathetic about the killing process but we were so ready to rid ourselves of the messy things, we were looking forward to it.  Weird, huh?
Really, it wasn't as bad as it was cracked up to be.

The rams are going to miss their chicken-tv.
These birds were 11 weeks old at harvest and some were a little big weighing in at 6 pounds.  I think if we do this again we will plan on 9-10 weeks.  It's amazing how fast they grow!

We set up an area outside in the shade with a super clean stainless steel table. 

For our killing area, we used the hitching post.  We opted for the hang upside down method.  We tied nooses, one for each leg, with buckets under them.

Warning, if you don't want to see dead chickens, scroll no further!

The guys transported them from the pen to the hitching post.
Once they figured out how to do it, it moved along fairly quickly.  That first one was tough though.
You need a VERY sharp knife.  A long blade for one swipe is best.

Once the chickens are upside down, they become pretty calm.  When the dirty deed was done, we lowered them into 5 gallon buckets. These were weighted with gravel in the bottom and lined with large black trash bags.  This way when the nervous system takes over, they don't tip over the bucket & we didn't have to watch them bleed.

Of course, I was standing a good distance away so I didn't have to watch them bleed anyway.
Yes, I was chicken!

We did a few at a time to get an assembly line going.  After the hitching post, the birds were rinsed thoroughly with a water hose.  We were told this helped with the smell for the next part. 

Into the scalding pot for one minute to loosen the feathers.  When you can easily pull out a large wing feather, it's ready to be plucked. 

In the garage, we tied nooses from the garage door and put a wheelbarrow underneath.  This held the birds at a good working level.  Working with both hands we raked our hands down the chickens and the feathers fell into the wheelbarrow below.  It wasn't a pleasant job but not the worst part if you ask me.  Some of us liked plucking less than others.  My hubby plucked most of the 25 birds.

Poor Jonah had run out of chickens to harvest and had to help with this stage.  He wasn't really mad but didn't want to smile for the camera.

This bird is ready for evisceration.
Our falconer boy came in handy for this task!
Again, you need a really sharp knife.  I can't stress that part enough.  We thought we had sharp knives but they didn't do the job.  Thankfully, Papaw next door can sharpen anything and quickly brought in proper cutting utensils.

Gutting a chicken is not hard but pretty yucky. Watch a YouTube video to learn how to do this.  Unwanted parts (for us that meant everything you don't see on/in a chicken at the grocery store) went into a bucket lined with a garbage bag.  I just tried not to look when doing this.  Distract yourself listening to music, laughing at each other and not think about what you are doing and it's really not that bad.  Really!  You don't believe me, do you?

Ok, that's really gross but we had to have a little fun with this!  I mean, seriously, we lived in a neighborhood in the city three years ago and now we are butchering our own chickens!  Also, keep in mind that J1 has been dissecting animals for a long time and finds it interesting to name all the organs.  The picture below is a lung... (in case you really wanted to know, which I didn't!)

From here the chickens were taken in the kitchen for a final rinse, checked for quills, tied up and put in freezer bags.  The birds then rested in the fridge for 48 hours until they loosened up.  This is a very important step that makes the meat more tender.

Then they went to the freezer where they are waiting to become Sunday dinner.
Which is exactly what we had last night.

The cost of the chickens ended up being about the same as store bought but the taste can't compare.

I don't know if we will raise our own meat chickens again.  If we do, a defeathering machine will make the job a lot easier.  But even if we don't, we were glad for the experience.  It truly made us appreciate our food and the One who provided it for us.

For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.
Deuteronomy 16:15

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Spin, Stupid.

I must admit that I have been thinking that for days.
You see, the washer stopped working this week.  It seemed fine except it wouldn't spin.
Being a Samsung, the appliance repairmen were fleeing with fear!  I kid you not.  They gave us ridiculous quotes and suggested we just buy a new one. 

w/d halfway out of it's cubby hole

 Since the laundry was pilling up, I sweetly (ok, firmly) suggested that we figure out what to do about the washer today.  So my honey, manuevered the pair out of their tight spot to take a look at the washer himself.  And that is when he found it!  The spin button on the front of the washer! 

  "Where did that button come from?" & "Who pushed it?" were the words out of my mouth as the washer spun into service. He just shook his head and said, "I love you."

It's spinning! Who's stupid now?

So you see, sometimes the solution is so obvious that we can't solve the problem.  At least I got to clean out behind the washer & dryer.  It really needed to be done today. ;)

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

Friday, September 21, 2012

Adding to the Flock

Last month during my blogging break, we gathered up new Jacob Sheep to add to our flock.  Traveling from their previous homes in Georgia, West Virginia, and Oregon, they met up with us in Colorado before they officially became Okies. 

They are settled in now and feeling at home.  They are even taking treats (animal crackers) from our hands.

Haagen Dazs (Dazs for short) just glows in the sun.  He's still young but he will be a promising herd sire.

Look at Rambler's w-i-d-e horns and long fleece.

Flora is just a striking girl.  She will be bred to Rambler next month for spring lambs.

Petals (in front) is a little thing and we just love her!  She stays close to Flora most of the time.

We are so glad to have these new sheep on the farm. They will all add different bloodlines while each will add special but diverse qualities to our flock.

 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me~
John 10:27
Do you hear his voice?
Does He know you?
Do you follow Him?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reflect & Refocus

Life gets so busy.  Sometimes we know where we are going but we forget why were were headed there in the first place. 

In those times, it's good to be still,

 to listen to God.

Reflect & refocus.

Refueling for their long journey, these little hummingbirds will soon be on their way.  Hummingbirds remind me of people (of myself).  They are so busy ~ always flapping their wings!  But every now and then you see one sitting, listening, and storing up
what they need to continue on.

During this month away from blogging, I've reflected on my blog's purpose.  I want it to be a true representation of our farm and our life.  I want it to be inspiring to those who live (or want to live) a more simple lifestyle.  I want it to be encouraging to your heart by sharing our faith with you in small ways. 

And so, the journey joyfully continues with renewed direction. 
I hope you will (re)join me.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10


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