Well, the time has come, the manmade hybrid jumbo cross chickens have lived their life, and it is time to process them tomorrow. We have never done this before, so I am sure we will make many mistakes. However, a Barron Homesteading Principle is that farming, ranching, and gardening are not rocket science. You can do it. Ancient men made some form of this work; you can too. Thus Eldest Daughter and I are going over some books and videos mostly from the professors and put on our big boy pants.
The things I have for our first attempt are two white plastic tables to process them on. We bleach those tables clean. I then have an oversized cutting board, which I also bleach clean. I like to have Clorox, and Clorox wipes. We really like Clorox and Clorox wipes. We most likely are going overboard on the cleanliness, but again we don’t know what we are doing thus are going by the book and being “extra careful.” We have three buckets, two for the blood, and one for the guts.
We don’t do tailgating or princess camping, which we may in the future. Thus I needed to purchase a good size igloo to “chill” the birds down. We also purchased a very large aluminum pot. This is for dunking the chickens before we de-feather them. I also purchased a simple thermometer to monitor the water. The water for dunking the chickens is kept between 140 – 147 degrees Fahrenheit. We also purchased some extra butane for our butane single burner stove. Always purchase a few more, for emergencies.
The largest thing we purchased is a Featherman’s chicken plucker. This thing cost approximately $1,000. This is very, very pricey. However we have seen this piece of equipment work on a lot of teaching videos we have watched. I believe it is an incredible help. A friend tried to get me to have my kids pluck the chickens by hand. I stressed that my family was a suburbanite family two years ago. Another Barron Homesteading Principle is don’t overwhelmed your family. He pushed, but I said, no, we can use this plucker gadget instead of doing it by hand.
I also purchased a dedicated and extremely sharp knife from Featherman. I was shocked at how sharp “real” knives can be. Huh. Knife sharp. We also purchased a bunch of chicken bags and a kill cone. All of the Featherman equipment came quickly and on time. In talking to Feaherman it appears that Mother Earth have “dis-invited” them from their conference. They believe it is because they actually take ownership of processing their own human and healthy poultry. They don’t know that, but it is strongly suspected. If that is true, it is a great shame because I gave Mother Earth credit for actually allowing people of very different social backgrounds to show up in one place, fairly peacefully and respectful of each other’s differences.
The work flow concept is that we bring the chickens over a few at a time. We then kill them by cutting through their carotid artery. Let them bleed out in the killing cones. We then take the dead bird to the water pot and dunk it a few times until the feathers come out easily. Then it is in the Featherman’s chicken plucker. Then onto the table for cleaning, butchering and cleaning again. Then they are into the igloo for chilling. Some classes recommend at least two igloos to chill it down somewhat, and then chill it down more. I only had one. Then it is bagging and the freezer.
Well, that is the equipment and the plan. I will try and take you along tomorrow and we will see how well it goes.