17 November 2009

Butchering chickens

We spent Saturday morning at a neighbor's house, helping them butcher a few chickens.  A beautiful fall day with cool temperatures and no rain or snow.   Our neighbors have an assortment of hens and they wanted to butcher a few of the older ones themselves, but they hadn't done it before.  My kids and I have killed and processed enough animals to feel comfortable showing them how to do it.
We killed the chickens quickly, first breaking their necks and then beheading them; it was only a few minutes before they were all hanging from the playset to bleed out.  We dipped the birds into a big pot of warm water and the feather plucking went pretty well, except for one bird with some tears on the skin.  Then into a cooler filled with ice water before eviscerating them and pulling out the guts.  I separated out the hearts, kidneys, and gizzards and later poached them in duck fat. 
When the kids were cold they went inside and had steaming mugs of the most delicious Spanish hot chocolate.  When we were finished we were treated to a wonderful brunch that included a Spanish omelette, dry-cured sausages, wheat beer, zinfandel, cheese and olives.  Quite a repast after just ninety minutes of work! 
We walked home full and content, carrying a chicken and a big bag of beets, happy to have helped out, glad that neighbors can turn into friends.


  1. This is a great story, from the chickens hanging on the child play set, to the idea of bonding over butchering. That should be the name of your next blog. I think its awesome you get the kids involved, too.

  2. Thanks. I love when my kids want to help with our food-related activities, from feeding the rabbits in the backyard to making sausage in the kitchen. We first used a play set for bleeding chickens about five years ago, and with all the cross bars and such they're very practical for backyard butchering.