Thursday, November 3, 2016

Liberating Roosters With a Final Offering of Sage

 Well the day came when we had to cull four young roosters from our flock. Nobody likes that day but they had reached maturity, were abusing the hens and even hurt two of them.  They were old enough that we were able to determine which personalities would work best to keep with our flock and which definitely would not. The two we ended up keeping are Welsummers. They had the best mix of predator aggression for protecting the flock yet they were extremely tolerant of us and have shown no aggression towards us. 

We butcher using the kindest method we know. The first thing we do is go into the pen with the roosters and burn sage as on offering of gratitude. We say a blessing prayer and thank the roosters for the sustenance they will give to us. We honor their beauty, life and the nutrients they have gathered from the rain, sun and earth into their bodies. I tell them that we are liberating them from their life as roosters and that they can move on in what ever form they want to. We burn the sage smudge stick over each rooster and then begin the process of transforming them into food in the kindest, most respectful way possible. 

 Don and Clara holding 2 roosters in front of the killing cones. The bucket below will gather the blood which will be composted. These cones hug the roosters in an upside down position which sedates them.

Don is holding a Buff Orpington rooster upside down so that the blood rushes to his brain causing a sedation effect which calms the bird down greatly.

 Once the bird is calm and still it is slipped into the cone which calms the bird even more by holding it in a snug embrace.

 Clara is calming one of the Welsummers before placing it in the cone. 

 Clara placing the rooster in the cone

I do not cut the heads off of the birds or sever the trachea when butchering them. It is my belief that the resulting suffocation causes the bird to suffer. By only cutting into the carotid artery and jugular vein the bird peacefully drifts from it's already sedated state, (from being upside down), into unconsciousness, and finally, death. Until death occurs the heart continues to beat pumping the blood out of the body. It is a very peaceful death compared to other butchering methods. If you cut the trachea (windpipe) the bird flails about in panic with an adrenalin rush from suddenly not being able to breathe. I have butchered birds both ways and once I learned to only bleed the bird out and not cut the head off I noticed how much kinder the process was to the bird. 

 I am scalding the birds at 145 degrees to loosen the skin on the feet and the feathers for easier plucking. Clara is plucking a bird o the bowl.

Don and Clara plucking the birds in the front yard where there is access to running water via the garden hose. 

 Singeing the pin feathers and hairs with a torch. 

 Clara and Don had to leave for work at this point so I was left with the job of evisceration

 After the carcasses were eviscerated    and washed I put them in this strainer basket to drain the water off so they would be nice and dry when I bagged them. This helps prevent freezer burn when the are stored in the freezer. First they will spend three days in the refrigerator as the enter into rigor mortis where the carcasses will stiffen, by the end of the 3 days they will have relaxed and become tender.

 We ended up with 13 pounds of whole chicken. I forgot to weigh the feet, hearts, gizzards, livers, and necks so probably over 14 pounds in all. 

In our previous homesteading years we would try to use every usable part of the animals we butchered.  I used to tan the hides of the rabbits and goats and sew them into various items. We used to give the hooves, ears, horns etc.. to the dogs. I also used to make stock from the bones and can it in a pressure cooker. I saved some of the lovely tail feathers from these roosters and I also saved the wings with the feathers to preserve in cornmeal and Borax. Clara is going to help me stretch the wings and get them drying tomorrow. This is my first time preserving whole, feathered chicken wings and I'm looking forward to it.

So it was a productive day and it's always a great feeling to add your own home-grown organic meat to the freezer.

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