The Farm Report: Accidental Chicken Dinner

      103 Comments on The Farm Report: Accidental Chicken Dinner

When we bought our latest flock of 18 chickens, the plan was to raise some as egg-layers and some as meat birds.  As longtime city slickers, neither of us had ever butchered and processed a chicken, so we knew eventually we’d have to learn how and give it a try.

Eventually turned out to be sooner than we’d anticipated.

Chareva moved the chicken coop yesterday, and when she stepped inside afterwards to top off the supply of food and water, she discovered to her horror that two of the chickens had gotten trapped and mangled by the wire mesh.   Both had broken legs – one poor bird, in fact, had a leg torn off.  (Yes, we will be revisiting the design of the coop to figure out how to avoid a repeat incident.)  The only merciful option was to put them out of their misery.

So Chareva quickly reviewed how to process a chicken on YouTube and got to work.  (If the sight of someone killing and gutting an animal grosses you out, you’d best stop reading now.)

First she hung the birds upside down and slit their throats to bleed them out.  Then she removed the heads.

When the birds stopped moving, she dipped the bodies into a pot of hot water to loosen the feathers.  Then she hung them upside down again and started plucking.  Most of the feathers came off pretty easily.


Online videos suggest using a propane torch to remove the fine feathers.  We don’t have a propane torch, but a makeshift version seemed to do the trick.  (As we discovered later during dinner, the tiny feather shafts that remained stuck in the skin had the consistency of crispy rice.)

Next came the tricky part:  removing the organs without spilling the contents of the guts inside the carcass and ruining the meat.  Chareva worked slowly and methodically, gradually working her way through the neck and tail with small cuts until she was able to release and pull out the organs.  At this point, I was convinced she would have made a fine pioneer woman.  Nothing about the entire process fazed her.

The birds were small, so she elected to cook both of them for dinner.  She added olive oil, garlic and rosemary, then roasted them on top of some sweet potatoes from our garden.  The rosemary came from our garden as well.  Aside from the olive oil and a side of green beans, this was pretty much a farm-to-forks meal.

Like I said, the birds were small, but the flavor was excellent.  When I was a kid, I liked chicken.  As an adult, not so much.  Chicken usually tastes bland to me.  I thought my taste buds had changed, but now I’d say it’s more likely the chickens that have changed.  I don’t know what kind of chickens I ate as a kid 45 years ago, but I doubt they were factory-raised chickens pumped full of hormones. Heritage-breed chickens raised outdoors on a farm are chickens done right.

Next time, of course, the “done right” part will include butchering the chicken because it’s fully grown and ready for the oven.

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103 thoughts on “The Farm Report: Accidental Chicken Dinner

  1. Cinnamonbite

    That’s all you have to take out of a chicken? I thought you had to take out intestines and stuff…well, like ALL the stuff. Whatever’s in there that’s not…meat.

    So was it gamey? I’ve had fresh cow and it was the nastiest thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. So bad that when the zombie apocalypse comes, I will probably become a straight-up vegetarian, it’s so nasty.

    But my biggest thing, it’s the killing. I know those were suffering but, yeah, it’s the killing. I thought I could do it once. I was learning how to clean a calf. They were practicing for the rodeo, horse stopped to hard, broke the calf’s neck. Everything was going well. Cut it’s throat, let it bleed, cut around each ankle…and suddenly I get tunnel vision and everything is getting dark.

    Everything came out, but we tossed the intestines. We kept the liver and heart for dinner.

    No, it wasn’t gamey. It was tasty, unlike the bland chicken from grocery stores.

    We had dinner recently with friends who are avid hunters. They served doves they had bagged that day. Delicious, not gamey at all. So when the zombie apocalypse comes, I’ll be hunting.

    Reply
  2. Babs

    We have also learned so much for free on Youtube! My husband fixes our cars and I knit wool socks thanks to Youtube! And then I read a couple weeks ago they are going to make you start paying.

    Anyway, what do you do if it’s summer time? What about the bugs?

    I don’t know if bugs jump on the chickens once they’re butchered. I guess we’ll find out.

    Reply
  3. Cinnamonbite

    That’s all you have to take out of a chicken? I thought you had to take out intestines and stuff…well, like ALL the stuff. Whatever’s in there that’s not…meat.

    So was it gamey? I’ve had fresh cow and it was the nastiest thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. So bad that when the zombie apocalypse comes, I will probably become a straight-up vegetarian, it’s so nasty.

    But my biggest thing, it’s the killing. I know those were suffering but, yeah, it’s the killing. I thought I could do it once. I was learning how to clean a calf. They were practicing for the rodeo, horse stopped to hard, broke the calf’s neck. Everything was going well. Cut it’s throat, let it bleed, cut around each ankle…and suddenly I get tunnel vision and everything is getting dark.

    Everything came out, but we tossed the intestines. We kept the liver and heart for dinner.

    No, it wasn’t gamey. It was tasty, unlike the bland chicken from grocery stores.

    We had dinner recently with friends who are avid hunters. They served doves they had bagged that day. Delicious, not gamey at all. So when the zombie apocalypse comes, I’ll be hunting.

    Reply
  4. David

    As far as chicken, I did get tired of the whole boneless-skinless breast after my mom kept buying that like around 10-12 years ago but I find I like the thighs so much better. But I would like to try a farm-raised chicken someday.

    I ate those boneless-skinless breasts back when I thought it was good idea to avoid the fat.

    Reply
    1. David

      I ate them mostly because I had no choice. Of course I never fully enjoyed them and never realized how unsatisfying lean meat without fat really was.

      Reply
  5. David

    As far as chicken, I did get tired of the whole boneless-skinless breast after my mom kept buying that like around 10-12 years ago but I find I like the thighs so much better. But I would like to try a farm-raised chicken someday.

    I ate those boneless-skinless breasts back when I thought it was good idea to avoid the fat.

    Reply
    1. David

      I ate them mostly because I had no choice. Of course I never fully enjoyed them and never realized how unsatisfying lean meat without fat really was.

      Reply
  6. Kathy in Texas

    My favorite part of this post is that Chareva is “all business” and not hamming it up for your camera – just keepin’ it real. She’s awesome! And I hardly ever use that word.

    She never hams it up for the camera. That’s Sara’s job.

    Reply
  7. Rae Ford

    About how long was the whole process from initially stringing them up to being ready to begin the cooking preparation?

    I didn’t check the time, but I’m sure it was under an hour.

    Reply
  8. Kathy in Texas

    My favorite part of this post is that Chareva is “all business” and not hamming it up for your camera – just keepin’ it real. She’s awesome! And I hardly ever use that word.

    She never hams it up for the camera. That’s Sara’s job.

    Reply
  9. Nick S

    Smaller birds with better diets taste so good – my in-laws raise theirs on a steady diet of table scraps rather than traditional chicken feed, and the meat from those birds is wonderful.

    Reply
  10. Nick S

    Smaller birds with better diets taste so good – my in-laws raise theirs on a steady diet of table scraps rather than traditional chicken feed, and the meat from those birds is wonderful.

    Reply
  11. Damocles

    “When we bought our latest flock of 18 chickens”

    When you bought them, did the chickens get delivered as a pack of eggs?
    Or how does the distribution work?

    They came in little freeze-dried packages. We had to add water and then microwave them for 20 seconds.

    Nope, just a flock of baby chicks.

    Reply
  12. Damocles

    “When we bought our latest flock of 18 chickens”

    When you bought them, did the chickens get delivered as a pack of eggs?
    Or how does the distribution work?

    They came in little freeze-dried packages. We had to add water and then microwave them for 20 seconds.

    Nope, just a flock of baby chicks.

    Reply
  13. Elenor

    Ah – here are the book about easier chicken processing at home! Never read them, just put them in my Amazon wish list long ago… Hope to someday have cause to use them!

    Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker
    by Herrick Kimball (Paperback)

    and

    Anyone Can Build a Whizbang Chicken Scalder
    by Herrick Kimball (Paperback)


    Linda actually had a copy of the Whizbang Plucker book by Kimball that she loaned me after we’d finished up the hoop shelter yesterday. It’s very clear, and only took about an hour to read. I’m getting pretty serious about building one.

    I may check into the scalder, too, but I didn’t mind that as much as the plucking.

    The Older Brother

    Reply
  14. Elenor

    Ah – here are the book about easier chicken processing at home! Never read them, just put them in my Amazon wish list long ago… Hope to someday have cause to use them!

    Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker
    by Herrick Kimball (Paperback)

    and

    Anyone Can Build a Whizbang Chicken Scalder
    by Herrick Kimball (Paperback)


    Linda actually had a copy of the Whizbang Plucker book by Kimball that she loaned me after we’d finished up the hoop shelter yesterday. It’s very clear, and only took about an hour to read. I’m getting pretty serious about building one.

    I may check into the scalder, too, but I didn’t mind that as much as the plucking.

    The Older Brother

    Reply
  15. Rae Ford

    About how long was the whole process from initially stringing them up to being ready to begin the cooking preparation?

    I didn’t check the time, but I’m sure it was under an hour.

    Reply

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