Butchering day. We started on Friday afternoon around 3pm. Since Nathan was just leaving the cities, his parents and I got everything set up and started on our first 12. Mary (Nathan's mom) wanted to do 12 at a time, making the 67 we had to do seem a little more managable.
Nathan calls around 4:00 stuck in traffic. I didn't think it was that big of deal bc we were doing just fine but then he reminds me that we needed to sign our papers for the sale of our house at 4:30! He was going to just meet me in town. Thankfully he called bc otherwise I would have totally forgot! (How could I forget on signing on our house?! Guess it just goes to prove how occupied my thoughts were on these chickens!)
My niece Alma came over to help with the kids (Jaeger mostly) so I was free to run to the signing. (It was a "pre" signing since the original docs have to be up to Brainerd on Tues the 4th, which is when the buyers sign their side of the paperwork.) I left the driveway and noticed a scooter driving towards me on the road. It was our friend from church coming to help with the butchering! Yay! So I turned around, chatted with him and sent him off to our house and told him we'd be back asap.
Nathan made it to closing just before 5 and we were able to get everything signed in time! Whew! So back to the butchering!
We got back and went right into the swing of things! Usually one of the guys did the ax dropping on the chicken's neck while Mary or another guy held the chicken down. Then Mary did the dipping in hot water; Nathan, me, and Mary did most of the plucking; Tom gutted; Guy was the 'gizzard wizzard'; and then Mary cut them all up into pieces (ie: wings, legs, thighs, and breasts) and then Nathan or I packaged them up!
We wanted to get 36 done on Friday so we worked past dark, ending around 9pm. I had to bring a lamp and set it up on our hay rack so we could see what we were doing. Nothing like butchering chickens by 'candle light' :) It was so peaceful though. It was a perfect temperture, no wind, and all we could hear were crickets chirping.
The next morning we were up by 6:30 and started again by 7:15 or so getting all the bowls of water ready. Butchering started about 7:30 and we were done by 11:30am. Our friend wasn't able to make it again this day so there were only 4 of us, but it went extremely well! I was mostly inside keeping an eye on the baby and the kids and then manning the water, making sure they always had hot water ready and also pressure cooking all the necks and backs so we could get all the meat off them. I also got 8 qts of broth just from those!
The chickens were a lot smaller than we wanted them to be. We really wish we could have waited another 2 weeks to a month. Then they would have been perfect. But we had no choice, moving day is tomorrow!! Each bird was only about 1.75 pounds all dressed and cut up. We packaged them 2 birds per bag and put them in the freezer. My in-laws took 2 home to fix the next day and said that they were some of the best chickens they've ever had. Well, of course!
It's kinda of weird not having them around though. I almost told Tiernan to go feed the chickens this morning when we first got up. That was his job. It really is nice though to have 65 chickens in the freezer, already 8 qts of broth, and 4 qts of cooked meat from the necks/backs!
It was a job well done!
Here are some pics:
Nathan, Guy, and Mary cleaning away
Caedmon helping to catch the chickens
Ariella with a chicken's head. That's my girl!
Guy chopping, Tom holding, Ariella watching
I helped Mary hold a chicken down after it's head was chopped off and yeah, got a little bloody. But don't worry, I wiped it off before I went to the house signing :)
Working in the peaceful dark
The next morning, back at it.
We ended Friday night with a scooter ride. Thanks Guy :)