Not sure who coined the phrase “Yard Bird”, I think it was Fred’s brother Jimmy, but that is what we refer to the chickens around here that free range. Not the fats we grow for meat mind you……..those are tender. Yard bird, are tough but tasty. They sometimes need a chainsaw to eat and are best used in the pressure cooker. I can’t recall how many chickens have been processed on our farm, but it was 20 some odd years worth for sure. It was my husband, Fred, that taught me how to process poultry. He made it look pretty easy and now after all these years of practice, I can say it is very easy to do. The kids have all grown up around this and have all learned the process very well. The key is to be set up and ready to roll. Of course having plenty of help is always a boost. What a huge difference it has made having the butcher shop outside with very hot water!!
Yesterday we processed 18 roosters in about 3 and a half hours, start to finish. Meaning, from the lighting of the fire for the water to the packaging of the birds and into the freezer. I took a bunch of photos and will post them in order. Hopefully, it will look easy enough for you to try if you would like to do this kind of work. In a month or so, when we butcher our meat birds, I will take the process further because these are for soups only. We did not cut them up in pieces the way we do our meat birds for fried chicken type meals.
Everyone had some sort of job to get this task done and it went smoothly. The only problem we encountered was that the new (used) motor was acting up, but a quick phone call to dad at work and some WD40 worked like a charm. (hold your mouse over the photos:)
Through the years the worst part of killing the chickens has been passed down. First it was always Fred, then it was me, and then it was Clayton, and now……….Caleb has been promoted to the one who cuts off the head. He is strong and it is more humane to cut it off in one quick stroke. It’s a job that has to be done.
When the water is good and hot, but not so hot that it cooks the meat…DO NOT BOIL…..we are ready to dip the roosters and immediately throw them, one at a time, in the home-made chicken plucker. (Jessi’s husband Luke made the plucker:) Dipping the bird is very easy for little ones who want to be of help.
As soon as the last of the feathers were removed we let them soak in a barrel of very cold well water until they were all done.
The kids asked me what was for supper and I asked them what would they like. They said anything but chicken would be fine:) May God bless your day.