Chicken Pluckin’

May 5th, 2012

Disclaimer: This post is graphic. It talks about killing and processing animals. Pictures are included. If that offends you or makes you sick, you might want to skip this post. I eat meat and would rather know what I am eating and how it was processed when given the opportunity.

Two happy cluckers
Lots of room to roam.

Our friend Robert's chickens have tons of room to run at Taranchulla Flats

We spent November in southeastern Colorado on our dear friend Robert’s property. From there, we drove up to Pueblo where we met up with some more wonderful friends – Jeremy, Stephanie and their two boys. We joined them at A Wren’s Nest Farm to partake in the CSA’s chicken harvest. We had only met them once before, at a mutual friend’s multi-day birthday party. That was almost three years ago. We had been communicating on facebook ever since. Once we were in there area of Colorado, we knew we had to meet up. The only problem was where? A chicken harvest at their CSA, duh! I can’t think of a better place.

I had recently harvested a chicken who had died due to misadventure. It met its demise during transport to my friend’s property. My friend was going to bury it, because he didn’t feel it was suitable for consumption. After some reading, I mostly agreed. The drive was only 1hr in near freezing temperatures and the bird was kept cold over night. However, the was bird was never bled and sat overnight full of blood. Not something that humans are accustomed to eating. At that point, I believed that it was still suitable for the dogs…. and I wanted to try my hand at harvesting. So after a couple of hours, it was plucked, gutted and butchered. I did it but knew that there had to be a faster way.  Unfortunately, no one on the property had ever owned or processed a chicken before and there were thirty more of them that would eventually need to be. That’s why I was so excited when we got the offer to attend the harvest at A Wren’s Nest Farm.

Processing Chickens involves a few simple but messy steps.

Step One: Raise said chicken. The folks at The Wren’s Nest did an excellent job of that – happy, healthy chickens!

Hen and Chicks at a Wren's Nest Farm


Hen and Chicks at a Wren's Nest Farm - Photographer: Paul Alhadef

Paul Alhadef: Photographer and farmer -Artisic and Quirky Photos- Take a look. You’ll love them!

Step Two: Kill the chickens. Our method of attack required one person to hold the chicken across a stump and the other to lop its head off with an axe. Both of these positions required a plastic apron or old, dark clothes. The axe-person had to swing sure and true. The holder had to control the chicken afterwards so that it wouldn’t break it’s wings during its final death throws and hold it upside down to drain it of blood.

Step Three: Dunk and pluck. If you scald them in hot water (~130F), it makes plucking a whole lot easier.

Chicken Harvest at A Wren's Nest Farm

Stephanie gets as OCD about plucking as I do - Photos by: A Wren's Nest Farm

Step Four: Gut and cut. The bolt cutters worked a lot better than my little ol’ knife. The feet make great ear rings. Gutting isn’t too bad. There is a technique to it that I haven’t quite mastered. I just make sure to get it all out without breaking anything.

Jeremy and Tammy cut'n and gut'n

Tammy and Jeremy really get into their work

Now there’s nothing left to do except cook and enjoy the bird. Jeremy and Stephanie unexpectedly gave up part of their share so that we could have a bird of our own. Too nice of them! We were just happy to hang with them and to be able to partake in the experience. Thanks to them, we were able to enjoy the bounty as well. We don’t have an oven, so even though this beautiful chicken would have been an awesome roast, we ended up boiling it. I didn’t take any pictures of the dumplings that we made with it so a picture of Rain enjoying a raw wing off of it will have to do.

Cooking and eating the chicken we harvested

Cook and enjoy - Rain Likes hers raw

If you are ever passing through Pueblo, CO, you just have to stop in and visit their farm. You may remember me mentioning it on facebook. It’s where I got my wool and learned to spin with a drop spindle. The farm has many farm fresh and homemade products for sale. It is also run by some of the nicest people we have ever met. So stop by and see a beautiful, sustainable farm in an unexpected place.

A Wren's Nest Farm

The Necessary Evil

November 11th, 2011

Over on our facebook page, Sean asked “Out of curiosity, where does the money to live come from? Even living inexpensively would seem to cost money, food, gas, repairs, etc..” I started to reply there, but it got way too long.

Hi Sean,

First, I have to ask: Do you work for the IRS?

Well, the money comes from a variety of places. We work camp on occasion. That usually gives us a few grand a year. Work camping, if you don’t know, is were your employer supplies your campsite and utilities in addition to paying you your regular wages. We also have a couple of websites, like FreeCampsites.net, that generate ad revenue. Lastly, there are our savings. In our previous lives, while we had good careers and well paying jobs, we didn’t live lavishly. We were two renter DINKs. That left us with a decent cushion for this adventure.

Johnny Hiking Bryce Canyon, Utah

We save money on hair cuts, too!

Most of all, we live on the cheap! We don’t EVER pay for camping. On average, we have traveled about 12,000 miles a year. This year we have only driven around 6,000 miles. We cook all of our meals even down to making our own bread and yogurt. We try to average about $1000 in expenses a month. That’s everything, including auto and health insurance.

We try to do all of our own repairs. When the bottom of our camper fell off, it could have cost us several thousand to have an RV shop repair it. Instead, Johnny did it for less than $200. When our wheel bearings went out, we replaced them as well as the ball joints. However, we aren’t as brave as our friends over at Raven’s Roads. Unlike them, we didn’t rebuild our transmission while on the road, we bought a new one when ours gave up the ghost. We’re not that cool!

We could easily work camp year round, like our friends The Gypsies Townsend who never touch the blessed nest egg, and have plenty of left over cash, but we aren’t going that route. At the moment, we are enjoying lots of free time and working on web development in hopes of creating a sustainable lifestyle. Which, in all honesty, it isn’t at this moment. It’s getting there, though.

Even though I have a web log, I am a private person when it comes to money, sorry if my answer is a bit vague.

Left For Dead In Joshua Tree NP

April 22nd, 2009

I got my taxes squared away. Unfortunately, Johnny was still doing his and seemed like he would be for hours. I wasn’t in any mood to lounge around the camper and decided it was time for some fun. So, I talked Johnny into unhooking the scooter for me and proceeded into Joshua Tree National Park. I wasn’t sure if we were going to drive in there before we left our boondocking area just outside of the park, and I wanted to see a damn Joshua Tree.

White Tank Campground - Joshua Tree NP

After working the scooter through the loose sand, I hit Cottonwood road and headed into the park. It was a pleasant ride, albeit slow. The first part was all up hill and the scooter was moving between 10 and 15mph. It was during this part of the trip that I realized I didn’t bring a jug of water. Not good. Once I made it up to the visitors center it sped up to about 30mph. From then on, it was smooth sailing. I stopped at all of the various markers and checked out some Ocotillo trees in bloom. I was lucky enough to see a rare purple aster that supposedly only grows in this area. The only wildlife I saw were a few lizards and a rabbit. No sheep for me… sigh. After a long ride in the Colorado desert, I finally made it in to the Mojave. I looked at my fuel gauge, but it hadn’t moved. I decided to go all of the way to White Tank Campground.

When I arrived there I was overcome by the scenery. The giant boulders surrounded by Joshua Trees were an awesome sight. I was so entranced I almost didn’t notice the time or my fuel gauge. I didn’t have a clock, but the sun was pretty low in the sky. The gauge read 3/4 tank. I thought, “Plenty of time and fuel, but I should head back.” I got to see a Joshua Tree! Too bad it took 30 miles.

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La Dolce Vita

November 22nd, 2008

As we make our way south and west to avoid the bitter cold, Johnny and I are stopping at places we wont be seeing for a long time. We have stopped at GSP, at Winchester, VA, and now we are sitting at my parent’s place. Its our familiar last stop before we hit the great unknown again.

While we are here, we have been doing some caving. Our good friend David visited us and we headed over to Camp’s Gulf Cave. We had a great adventure. Either Johnny or myself will post about it as soon as we get the pictures . Hopefully he, Pam and Chaos will join us for some more caving fun before we head off once again. We are surely going to miss them when we leave this side of the country. Its not often that you find good people who are great company and are willing to meet up in various places to do the things you like to do. We really lucked out when we met them. We would have probably left the east coast sooner if our paths had never crossed.

For some reason, when I get to my parent’s place, I turn even more domestic than usual. Tonight, for instance, I decided to make a batch of pasta. It was my first time, and I would have to say it turned out well. While it smelled just like the stuff in the box, it wasn’t quite like it. The best way to describe it would be to say that it was much more hearty – not so much thicker, but more… wholesome. I have to say that I prefer it to the boxed stuff. Not only is it more hearty, it is better tasting and I know exactly what is in it. Which is a major plus for me. I hate turning over a container and seeing 3425437 ingredients in an item that I know should only have 5. Not only that, but now I know that I can make it, too. Continue Reading »

Dear Claire,

September 5th, 2008

Thanks for posting. I am sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to you. We have been very busy working and enjoying ourselves. Thankfully, we have been able to do both at the same time.

Claire @ http://escapethe9to5.blogspot.com

Hi Jen

How long do you think your trip will last?

Is it a trip or a change of lifestyle? If it is a trip how do you plan to make the transition back to the 9-5 grind if ever? Do you worry about the future? Do you worry about being homless

How do you manage for money? Do you live off savings or do you work along the way?

I am really intersted in your blog and your plans for the future. I am having another life crisis and I need to do something to change my life.

Cheers

Claire

As for how long the trip will last: forever, I hope. It is definitely a change of lifestyle. From the shedding of all of our accumulated baggage and absurd “needs” to opening up to new people and opportunities, we have changed. Even if the trip was tragically cut short, I have learned new values that I will always keep with me.

At this time, I do not foresee myself returning to the 9-5. I find it very stifling. My career, while profitable, was a drain on my physical and mental health. I cannot imagine returning to a cubicle, ever. I cannot imagine sitting in an office working at least 9hrs a day, sometimes 16, for someone else’s dream. Life is way too short to live that way.

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