Saturday, April 10, 2010

Family Values

Not sure if I've mentioned this, but I'm a farm girl. I spent years 2 thru 18 in the rolling hills of NE Missouri, cleaning out barns and carrying feed buckets. Okay, so that's not ALL I ever did but I like to think I helped out a good amount, and not just when I was working off a speeding ticket fine paid by my dad. So anyway, my point is, now that I have my own kids, I've got city-livin' out of my system, and the kids are nearing the age of participation, we're doing more and more outside in the way of agriculture. It's been mainly gardening so far but that has recently been extended to small-time chicken farming!
We got 12 frying birds and Hubby built a chicken tractor for them--a cage without a bottom that can be easily dragged to a new patch of grass. Six weeks is about all these birds need and they're ready to eat. Today, with Tapps in the back of my mind and hatchet in hand, we made our way to the killing post up in our shed. Our older 6 chickens met their fate with the help of some friends' boys, who were all too happy to play grim reaper for the afternoon.

Nick attached two milk jugs, which had the bottom and top cut out, to a post in the shed. The chickens were bound, inserted upside down into the jugs and beheaded. There, they flopped and kicked until their nerves were shot and then were carried to the front yard, like real rednecks, where we dipped them in boiling water and plucked their feathers out. Nick then took them in the house and cut them up. Six chickens got us one 5 qt stock pot full of meat pieces. Yum. Yum.
So, why title this post "Family Values"? Butchering chickens is one of my earliest memories.
From a very young age I was alongside the rest of the family, working on our food and learning about the cycle of life. It seems like overstating a simple chore but that is exactly what it was: building family strength and values.
Sure, it's gross, but talk about character building! These are the things I want to pass on to our children. Self sufficiency, a knowledge of the circle of life, the outcome of hard work (grumbling abounded once it was clear just how grueling the tiny feathers could be to remove), and the importance of treating everyone and everything--even frying chickens--with care and gentleness.
After all, head chopping doesn't have to be terrible.
I bet you didn't know that, did you?


DK said...

I was just browsing through your blog admiring all the pretty flowery things when all of a sudden there were bloody chickens in milk jugs. Talk about a jolt lol! Not that I have issues seeing such. I, too, grew up doing the same only we'd usually do the hypnotizing and stretching out of the neck across a log thing before using a hatchet or axe.

I've never seen this method of beheading chickens before. I'd imagine it keeps the mess and running around the yard part to a minimum, though. Nice re-use of materials, too. I always like seeing that.

DK said...

I thoroughly despise the boiling water and plucking, though. I always skin the birds whenever I do the butchering, just like rabbits or anything else. They're usually pretty old by the time we get to the butchering anyway, so a long stew ending in a dumpling pot is usually the ultimate destination and the skin isn't at all necessary there.

Melody said...

@DK: LOL--Yes, it was a bit off the beaten path from my regular blogging. But a change-up now and then is good, right?? :D I also do not enjoy the plucking process, but my husband likes the skin to stay on the bird, so skinning them isn't really an option for us. The milk jugs are also his brainchild--when I was little, Mom set their head on a stump, her foot on their head, and swiftly hatcheted the outstretched necks. Leave it to Hubby the engineer to get fancy about chicken beheading! :D