Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead

Chicken Doomsday of 2009
October 12, 2009, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Farm Life

Once upon a time we had 13 free range chickens who provided us with delicious farm fresh eggs.  These golden days ended during the hottest summer months and never returned.  Was it that the chickens were just too old?  Not finding enough food?  Laying somewhere else? Too hot? Regardless of the reason for our lack of eggs, we were fed up. The very stupid chickens’ only use was as an entertaining spectacle for baby boy as they obnoxiously wandered up to the house and stared at us through the windows.  When they started wandering into the neighbor’s yard and pooping all over our driveway, something had to be done and that thing was Chicken Doomsday of 2009…

The day began with a mournful rain. None of us were thrilled about what had to be done, but carry on we did.  Grace and I made room in the freezer while the men folk made their way down the hill to retrieve the first few unlucky birds.  Apparently, swinging them by their feet has a hypnotizing effect:


Then they sat on them and cut of their heads.  Really. Photograph not included. Instead here’s a photograph of my little farmer napping soundly unaware of the demise of his beloved friends:


This is where we stored them before plucking time:

Can we try to see the humor in this?

Can we try to see the humor in this?

Plucking is awful.  Like really bad.  Really really really bad. We borrowed this machine from the farm to get the bulk of the feathers off:


Then we plucked with our fingers and tweezers.  Grace was thoroughly disgusted, as well she might be, yet soldiered on impressively.


Little known fact (at least to me until yesterday): Chickens smell TERRIBLE.  Worse than rotten fish.  I’m not sure why, but it’s true.

After plucking three chickens, my little farmer woke up from naptime and I tended to him during the gutting phase.  Do I feel a little guilty to have not participated in the gutting and left it to the others?  Yes.  Was I delighted that I did not have to view the scene as I heard dialogue like, “I just can’t get the lungs out.  The intestines and bowels are in the trash but those lungs…” or “where’s the esophagus?” or “oh no” ? Yes, a thousand times yes.

We thoroughly sanitized the whole kitchen afterwards, Mom.  I promise.

We thoroughly sanitized the whole kitchen afterwards, Mom. I promise.

Anyhow, we have 10 frozen chickens in the freezer and ate a delightful chicken stew last night with leeks and potatoes by the fireside.

It seems reasonable that if one is not willing to slaughter an animal for eating, one should not eat said animal after someone else slaughters it, which calls into question whether I am ever allowed to eat poultry again. Way grosser than I imagined.  Like disgusting.  Like really really disgusting.

11 Comments so far
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My Dear Daughter,

Well, that’s what I call “good copy!” I’ve recorded, for posterity, my own participation in the transmogrification of live chickens into chicken & dumplings. This was at my grandmother’s home. She had a different method for killing the chickens, however. And, yes, I can attest to the fact that plucking is mind-numbing work. So gratified to hear that you santitized the kitchen!


Comment by Margo Payne

When Henry met his end, Enid our housekeeper did him in while John assisted, and I skulked in a corner feeling like both a guilty murderess and a dirty rotten coward (so kudos to you). She killed him the same way y’all did, but then scalded him to make most of his feathers come out. Maybe you can try that next time — if there is a next time?

Did you imagine, at, say, sixteen, you would have these kinds of conversations? Life (and poultry husbandry) is weird.

Comment by Katherine Bowers

We did dunk them for a bit in hot water but perhaps we should have scalded more or dunked every once and awhile during plucking for good measure.

I think at sixteen I had plans of moving to the big city which is now entirely unappealing. Maybe I’m just tainted by my city-loathing husband who just last night was talking about how he can’t imagine how folks like in nyc because of “all those buildings everywhere.” brilliant.

We ate chicken number 2 last night. It was quite delicious and less rubbery than chicken number 1.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

Haley, to get the feathers off more easily pour boiling water over the body once they have been slaughtered. You can then basically brush the feathers off without trouble.

Comment by John Bowers

Oh, and I agree with your last paragraph. That’s why I helped (though did not do the entire deed myself, we had named him after all) our rooster Henry.

Comment by John Bowers

I just realized that my wife made the same suggestion in the post above. I should have RTA.

Comment by John Bowers

We did, we did! Maybe it wasn’t boiling enough or something. The feathers DID NOT “brush off” I can tell you that.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

i am a vegetarian and i really appreciate your last comments. its always easier for someone to do our dirty work, so thank you for caring and doing it yourself…i dont know you but am proud of you.

Comment by jen

Thank you, Jen!
We’re not vegetarians (except during Lent) but we are, I suppose, meat minimalists due to financial, ethical, and health reasons. I have a particularly hard time giving meat full of hormones and nasty things to my little toddler. He’s had meat once or twice, but it really grossed me out so I’m trying to stick mostly to other forms of protein.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

[…] of Monastery Soups with stock made by boiling one of the chickens whose demise is explained in Chicken Doomsday of 2009. The chickens were too old for their meat to be tender but they make great stock and organic […]

Pingback by St. Scholastica and a Snow Day « Carrots for Michaelmas: An Attempt to Celebrate the Christian Year with Feasting, Farming, Fasting, and Friendship

[…] They’re a bit skittish but will get closer for some yummy sheep feed. We used to have chickens, but you probably know what happened to them. […]

Pingback by Why We Live in Community « Carrots for Michaelmas: An Attempt to Celebrate the Christian Year with Feasting, Farming, Fasting, and Friendship

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