Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Chickens' New Digs

Yay! The chickies have a new house! Montana Man built this out door enclosure on Sunday and the inside nesting area yesterday. I love it.

We did recently lose one of the girls to my brother's dog. She wasn't mangled though so after some enraged tears I decided to do the homesteady thing and butcher her for eating. We have not cooked her yet and I am a bit hesitant wondering if the fact she was killed in fear (meaning there was A LOT of stress hormone) and she had internal bleeding will make the meat taste bad. No way to know until we try though!

Happy chicken in a shelf!

The chickens LOVE their new house and were enjoying the sunshine and dirt bathing. Last night I went out to see if they were roosting inside and much to my surprise all of them were on the top shelf box. 11 birds. It was a sight!

Butchering the Ducks *Caution: Graphic Pictures*

So we did it! The weekend of the 18th we slaughtered the ducks. We did not save any, quite frankly they are gross and I didn't want to deal with their mess any longer. Selfish as that sounds, that's farming. Animals are not pets in the barn. Our ducks had a good life with pool time and food and fresh grass but they were intended for food. So anyway, I will get on with the post!

Below is the first duck that went. I guess I will explain how we did the killing seeing as most people are concerned with how 'humane' you do it. We thought it out carefully and decided that a good old fashioned stump chopping block and a very sharp machete were the way to go. After I retrieved a duck and brought it out of sight of the others Montana Man would quickly slip a small noose around the neck, I would gently let the duck down and he held its head up on the block and swung fast and hard. If you are wondering if the rope strangled the duck the answer is no. By the time I let the duck down it's head was already in striking position and it was really just to keep MM's other hand out of the way so he could swing hard without risk of chopping a finger off. It all happened in about 10 seconds.
As soon as the head was off it was my job to grab the now wildly flapping body and hold it upside down over a tub to let it bleed out properly. When it would "calm" we tied it by the feet up on a little stand and let it finish and relax.

By the time we got to the fourth duck to be dispatched, the first was ready to come down (there was only room for 3 on our stand) and we just kept going until all six were done. All this took about 20 minutes start to finish.

I did not take pictures of the plucking because ducks are hard to do by hand and I was on the clock to get them prepped and cooled down in a timely manner. I will say that I probably will send them to our local butcher next time or only do one or two in the same day because of the time it takes to pluck, even with proper scalding. It sucks. Gutting was the easy part, although stinky if you nick a bowel (I did it on only one). I would encourage anyone who has not butchered before to search out a more detailed blog post about it or get a book. I would try to explain but you really need pictures!

I did choose to vacuum seal my ducks and freeze all of them the next day. I borrowed a friend's vacuum sealer and bought bags (thank you friend!). Because we only raised 6 and ducks are kind of a long process to cook, they are for special occasions. I will be curious of the taste of homegrown though when the time comes!

There you have it! First animals we have raised for meat and many more to come.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

An Unexpected Chance For Learning... Butchering a Wild Turkey

Well, I did not expect to have a turkey carried into the yard today! But I volunteered myself to help the handsome gentleman in the picture above (my brother... shhh, he doesn't want me writing about him, let's call him The Redneck) pluck and gut it. It was a very nice tom turkey. Since neither of us had done it before but I was the more educated on it by reading, I dictated how we should go about things. I was so excited to put my knowledge to work!

First we got a huge pot and heated water to about 140-150 degrees and poured it over the bird in a large metal tub outside. It took 2 pots of water to scald him good. Then we hung him up by his feet so we could both pluck him easily over plastic sheeting (makes clean up quicker). After he was plucked enough I cut the tips of his wings off buy going through the joints. Then we hung him by his neck and proceeded to gut. The Redneck did this part and I watched closely. Admittedly, I was still a bit unnerved about the warmth of the body. But I will be gutting 6 ducks soon so I will get over it!

We finished up by cutting the feet and neck off and rinsing it with the hose. It will sit in the fridge for a few days and then I believe he plans to fry it! Fun.

Evil as it sounds, I look forward to processing our ducks... these are survival skills and farm skills. Butchering is something I aim to be good at.

Night all!