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 timing could be better….

November 30th, 2009

I haven’t posted anything about the products that you all are buying. Don’t forget, I get to see them! However, I have no way of knowing where they are going, so your secrets are safe. Normally, I pack political books, toys and sex books. These are the top sellers. Not worth mentioning really. Today I saw something that actually stuck out and I wanted to share it with you.

Wow!

Anyway, the title is in regards to fact that we both think we are getting sick. Which completely sucks as we are starting to see overtime at work. Well, I am anyway. Johnny’s group was sent home early today. We haven’t been flu/cold sick since before we hit the road. Grrr… I have been so diligent at work! OK, I am not that girl downstairs that wears a mask everyday, nor am I the lady I saw in the lunch room with the latex this evening, but I am really careful. I wipe down my equipment before using it everyday. I wear my work gloves before touching objects that lots of people do like door knobs, sign in pens, etc. It may seem a little overboard, but I didn’t want to get sick! I want to work, and its not overboard if it didn’t work.

Life in the back of a truck (part 2)

January 25th, 2009

This is part of an ongoing series on what it’s like to live in a truck camper fulltime. You may read other articles here:

  1. Part One – The fulltime lifestyle
  2. Part Two – Why a truck camper?
  3. Part Three – Weights & Dealing with them
  4. Part Four – Boondocking resource conservation

Why a truck camper when you could have something much larger?

True, a bus conversion or a 5th wheel would give quite a bit more space than a truck camper, but if you can deal with the smaller size, a truck camper has a lot going for it. For starters, you can take it places that just aren’t practical in most rigs that are suitable for fulltiming. Sure, a popup trailer or an especially small travel trailer might make it down a particular nasty stretch of dirt road, but even those are going to have issues if it turns out backing out is required. A smallish Class C is as manueverable as a truck camper, but they’re awfully hard to find in 4 wheel drive models with the kind of clearance you get from a full size truck.

Another bonus to truck campers is that you don’t really need to tow along a second vehicle for running around. Many Class A owners tow a dinghy vehicle for sightseeing in order to avoid moving their RV once its parked. While, we also haul around a scooter for short trips, we often just move the entire truck and camper if the trip requires it. Better yet, if we’re going to be somewhere more than a few days and know we’ll need to run around in the truck a lot, we can just drop the camper and have a separate vehicle to drive. It takes a bit more effort than dropping or loading a trailer, but the truck can easily be loaded or unloaded in around 30 minutes.

A final reason we really like the truck camper option is that the camper and drivetrain are not married as they are in Class A’s or C’s. If you decide you’d prefer a different floorplan or the truck experiences catastrophic failure, you can always change truck or camper with a minimum of hassle and keep the one you’re still happy with. For that matter, you can dump the camping lifestyle altogether and keep the truck. Not having the RV and truck married is what allows you to have a 4wd, diesel RV with good clearance at a reasonable price. It’s also an excellent choice for anyone that would like to pull a boat. Many states prohibit double towing, and I can’t imagine it being particularly fun even in those that allow it.

But, isn’t a truck camper way too small to live in fulltime?

I guess that depends on your lifestyle and what you want and need out of life. There are probably more people living in vans than truck campers by an order of magnitude. I can stand up fully, stretch out fully and have considerably more room to move around than any van I’ve ever seen except perhaps the shuttle buses, which I imagine would make a nice little rolling house with some work.

Personally, I find there is plenty of living space, but I’ve always liked living in smaller spaces. They prevent me from accumulating too much junk and I can usually find things I’ve mislaid without much trouble. Jenn and I as well as two cats have been living in the camper for 12 of the last 14 months and I feel much more comfortable to be back in our camper than I felt while we had the run of her parent’s place the past couple of months.

The one real constriction I feel about living in something the size of a truck camper is making a concious effort not to accumulate too much junk and finding a place to store the things we need. Anytime you consider picking up a new item, you have to think about just how often you’re going to use it, whether or not you can get along without it and where you’re going to store it. On top of that, you should consider whether it will be able to replace something you already have or if you already have something that can do the same thing. This problem actually helps me to save money by not buying things just because they’re shiny!

Update

January 4th, 2009

Well, we have been sitting in the same place so long I think I have a root or two starting. We need start moving before that root makes contact with the soil. The two main reasons  we have been here so long are my new web page and the fabulous hospitality of my Aunt and Uncle. And, well a little lack of motivation on my part compounded with being sick.

Being with family has been great. It was nice to be able to spend the holidays with loved ones. What is Christmas w/o excited little children ripping open presents? My relatives provided that and much more. Roasted lamb, spiced eggnog, rum cake, holiday cheer, and much more. We have had some nice times while we have been here and really appreciate their concern and hospitality. We will miss them for sure. But, now its time to ramble.

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TDOMF and Geo Mashup Harmony

December 13th, 2008

-> Scroll down or click here for my Geo Mashup – TDO Miniforms solution <-

So much for being on an extended vacation. For the last couple of days I have been completely engrossed in building a new website. I have fallen back into my old habits of staying up all night and coding, getting some sleep, grabbing some coffee, and coding some more. Ah, just like the good old days. The ones before the corporate machine killed any enjoyment that that behavior gave me.

Back in those days, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal didn’t exsist. You (I) did everything by hand. You wanted a web based file manager, a web based mysql manager, or a bulletin board? You wrote it. Now, we have all of these wonderful content management systems with tons of great plugins. But, they come with their own head aches too. You want a certain kind of functionality? Time to start hacking.

Thank god for open source.

Tonight I ran into that situation. From what I have read, a lot of other people have too. So, I decided to post my solution in hopes that it helps some one else.
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