Farm life is more than the sweet scent of freshly mown hay in June, sunflowers smiling at the sky and blueberry pie cooling on the window sill.
Farm life is also messy, stinky and sometimes unpleasant.
But it's life.
Back to the basics, self-sufficient life.
If the messy, stinky and unpleasant parts of the farm disturb you, don't proceed with reading this post. If you recognize that messy and stinky are the stuff of life that even children need to be a part of....read on.
Saturday was chicken butchering day.
Not our most enjoyable chore to do but well worth doing.
We've spent years honing our chicken butchering skills. We're getting marginally better at it. Mistakes are always the best teachers.
We raise batches of cornish cross meat chickens, usually twenty-five at a time, twice a year. They grow quickly, in eight to ten weeks, and we've learned how to raise them with as few of the typical problems as possible. This batch had no broken feet or legs and we didn't loose a single bird to "flip over" (heart weakness problems) or even the raccoon that visited the coop every single night.
We don't have any new fangled contraptions for our butchering, like pluckers or cones. (Though we'd love to have them!) Mr. Dirtywrench grew up on a Midwestern farm and he does things the way his ma and pa did things.
When we butcher, we pluck our chickens though I know some prefer to skin chickens for the ease of it. The skin is extremely nutritious and since it is the source of the fat it holds all the flavor and moisture for the meat. I want that good skin on my birds when I roast them up for dinner. Plucking is a pain in the patooty but we do it.
We've recruited lots of different helpers in the past. Most will come for one try at it and don't return. I guess they didn't love the smell of wet chicken feathers in the morning.
There are two excellent helpers that faithfully returned this time and their help is invaluable to us. We try to treat them well!
The helper who does the dirty job, the bloody one, doesn't wear a black hood, but I'll preserve his identity. He's good at his job and is happy to come back and help again.
Shadow's job is to horde chicken heads. He frets terribly that he will miss one.
I dearly hope I don't find a pile of t hem somewhere in my flower beds.
My job was to make the crew happy with a big farm breakfast about half way through the work.
Chicken was NOT on the menu.