And then there were eight.

“Butchering a chicken is like cleaning a big fish or cleaning a toilet.  Any one can do it, but why would you want to?” thanks to the City Girl Farmer blog for that quote.

Boy do I agree with that one.   When we lived in Michigan you could take your chickens to the Amish to be butchered.   Like City Girl Farmer it was only $2.50 and they came home cleaned, in a bag and ready for the freezer.   I no longer live in Michigan and unfortunately there are no local chicken butchers in my neck of the wood of Montana.   I would surely pay someone twice that to turn my backyard livestock to freezer commodity.  Now I must take care of the butchering part of my hens as well.

I need to get my flock down to six before winter sets in and my flock of hens doesn’t wander away from the coop most of the day.     I have been dragging my feet on getting rid of four birds.   This morning was a cool morning and so we butchered two chickens.   As a small backyard operation I only do a couple at a time.   The killing of the birds is always the hardest moment for me. It doesn’t get any easier with time.  I am sure that is the defining moment that is what keeps some folks from raising their own birds.  I take pride that my birds were raise in a healthy, humane environment; good food, warm shelter, clean water, free-range, no overcrowding and the list goes on.

Once a bird is dead the actual cleaning of the bird is a methodical  process for me.   I don’t pluck my birds, but skin them like you might dress a game bird in the field.   I take off the jacket and then the trousers, turning them inside out.   This keeps the feathers and any environmental nasties away from the meat.  I have learned a process that works such that the bird’s innards are removed intact and end up inside the feather jacket and trousers. It takes a couple more minutes but it is so much more sanitary that the rush job done in commercial cleaning facilities.    When my birds are done, there is none of the nasty stuff that you find in grocery store birds inside.   My birds are as clean as a whistle and haven’t be exposed to things neither you nor I want to think about.

They are now sitting in the refrigerator where they will age 4 or 5 days before I cut them up and freeze them.   In the next couple of weeks I have two more to do, then I won’t have to think about this dreaded chore until next year.