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

No more hiding my hide!

June 29th, 2008

smoke2

That’s right, I finally finished it. And, it only took forever :D. I know its not the best, but damn it, I did it and its mine!

Special thanks go out to:

Johnny for being so cool with me running away for a week to hang out in the woods getting primitive with a bunch of strangers clad in dreadlocks, for putting up with me toting it around for so long, for building the tripod and for graciously tending the fire all day on your birthday so that I could smoke it.

Megan for working on it when she thought it was her’s and for being such a great sport about the big hide mix up that caused everyone to work on somebody else’s.

Woniya for being such a great teacher and such a nice person.

Deedee for telling me that there were hides in the store when I had lost hope of tanning one.

Vikki and Jerry for being such great company and for dumping my water when I forgot.

Everyone else at Rivercane Rendezvous for the unique and wonderful experience! I hope to see you all again soon.

Time to get busy on my leather working skills.

Pictures from Rivercane Rendezvous Spring 2007

Rained out and loving it.

June 22nd, 2008

Well, its a another rainy day; which is good, because the streams are pretty low here. But today, I’d planned to finally finish up that hide that I have been carrying around with me. A year ago, I fleshed it out and mostly worked it soft while I was at Rivercane Rendezvous.

pisgah-rainy

I didn’t mess with it again until we were out of our stick and brick home. At that time, I pulled it out of the freezer and finished the softening stage. I couldn’t make a fire to smoke it at that campsite. So, I put the hide back in a bag and stuffed it into outside storage.

Since we are talking about staying in this great campsite until my family gathering at the beginning of the month, I thought it would be a great time to finish the hide. So, yesterday, I gathered up some rotten wood to smoke with, some nice (fallen) trees to make a tripod, and started sewing up the hide. Johnny was so excited about the prospect of not having to smell my brain tanned hide when he opened that compartment anymore that he offered to erect the tripod. Such a nice guy. Thanks hun! Nice work.

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