Pumpkin carving and chicken butchering: how are these two similar?
Yes, the very fingers that are typing these words also encountered some mushy “insides” of two different sorts this weekend. I am not implying that killing a chicken and cleaning a pumpkin are in the same category, really, but a definite similarity came to mind as I stuck my hand inside both….
So, the deed is done, at least for a few weeks. WF solemnly selected 3 unlucky hens who had not re-grown their back feathers after last winter’s over-roosterage event. We suspected one of them may have been laying fairly well, but we thought it cruel to try to get her through a -20 F winter without feathers or heat in the coop.
WF did the actual dispatching, and I tried my hand at plucking for the first time. Last time we tried to avoid plucking by skinning, but it didn’t work that well. This time, we even used a thermometer in the scalding water and it was surprisingly easy, considering the age of these hens. Turns out that one WAS indeed laying, as evidenced by some proto-eggs inside. Sad, but interesting from an anatomy standpoint. Also proved that she wasn’t going to grow any more feathers, as she was done molting and still bare.
So, they now rest in our refrigerator. One went with us to a pumpkin carving potluck last night. The flavor is good, not too tough after pressure cooking. It somehow amazes me how much like CHICKEN these chickens taste. It reminds me that this “chicken” substance I’ve eaten a million times comes from living creatures with personality, much like these hens in our yard. I remember all the other times I’ve mindlessly eaten chicken at restaurants or events and more fully realize that those were once living creatures, too. I don’t plan to give up eating meat, but it makes me more adamant about eating GOOD meat, where the animal had a good life, a humane death and proper, clean processing.
I DO dread the butchering task (don’t like thinking about the next time, when a rooster needs to go), but once the bird is dead, I can be very practical and business-like: dunk, pluck, cut, draw, clean, cool. After all the work we’ve done to raise them and the sacrifice of their lives, I want to make the most use of the meat as possible, appreciating and thanking the chicken lives (and hard human work) which make our chicken dinners possible!