Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not for the faint of heart

A few weeks ago I saw and ad in the paper for temporary work, just a few days a week. James came in from working in the garden and I told him I called about a job. He looked at me like, seriously? I told him the job was to help another farm process poultry and it all became clear to him. As all you regular readers know I've only killed one bird and he was mean so that hardly counts. Also, I have all these turkeys that we plan to put in our freezer this fall and the more practice I get the easier it will be, I hope.  AND, we have 2 broody hens sitting on lots of eggs and we can't keep all these chickens so we're going to have to play "real farmer" and eat some someday.

We milked the goats earlier this morning so I could be at work by 9:00. It was an hour and 15 minute drive to the farm. There were a dozen of us there to process about 370 cornish cross hens. The hens had been caught that morning and put in plastic bins.

 Next they were put in a killing cone where their arteries were cut and they bled out.  Jon is just smiling for the picture.  I don't think he's smiling because he likes killing chickens.

From there they went to be scalded at 145 degrees so the feathers would come out easily.  In the de-featherer (I'm sure it has a more professional name but I don't know what it is) they were tossed about while rubber finger-like things removed the feathers.  At the next station someone cut off their feet and head and the guts were removed.  My job, along with 3 or 4 others, was to remove all the little feathers that were missed and check for bruising on wings, etc., which needed to be pulled or cut off.

From there they went into ice water to cool for a few hours till they could be bagged and frozen. 

Here's a lovely picture of where the bad parts and guts went.  These will go into their compost.  Their dog walked right by these buckets without even sniffing them.  Our dogs would have loved to get their greedy little mouths on this good, juicy stuff.

I know this must all look gruesome but it really wasn't.  I never even felt a little queasy, of course I wasn't the one killing them.  There wasn't much of a smell or even much blood by the time we got them.

In case you haven't gotten enough of the experience, here's a brief video of the process.

 I actually enjoyed the work and my day.  I enjoyed it so much I'm going to go back and do it again Saturday.  The people I worked with were great and that also made the day interesting.

We didn't have chicken for dinner tonight, just salad from the garden.


  1. Work is a good thing! Mostly I'm trying to set up my google accout I wanted to put in my 2-cents worth...I think you should keep the tree. The family will always think of him, whether or not the tree is there. Judy

  2. What will you post next? You certainly are an amazing woman!
    You have my complete admiration. I'm a total wimp.

  3. You have got to be kidding me, Mollie. You have been managing your farm almost single-handedly for the past two months. You've dealt with predators, deaths, births etc. Don't sell yourself short. You're amazing.

  4. I'll help with a lot of things when i come visit, but that won't be one of them, sorry. I would never eat chicken again. I don't know how you do it?

    Kathy T

  5. No, killing was not the most enjoyable task :) but this is a lot better method then the conventional way!

  6. We're processing chicken again this summer, want to come help? Only this time we are in Washington (state). :) We miss you Karen! Please tell Delores "hi" and that we miss her too.