Monday, August 25, 2014

Potter's Chicken Harvest.

I realize we all look happy in this photo below and so let me be clear: this moment was towards the end of the harvest, when there was a clear end point. If you would be sick or sad or horrified as to the details of a chicken slaughter, best not to read any further. But since you are continuing to read, I'll tell you there was no joy in any of this process (except for the chicken sausage I made for this morning's breakfast, obviously). I was interested and intrigued, contented in knowing the chicken meat I would eat in the future was raised healthily, humanly and conscientiously. Also I feel connected to old ways and in touch with the value of food. When you collect your own food say from the garden or harvest a friend's hard work in raising animals, you waste less. That is to say, because of this experience I want to waste less food in my life.
(clockwise from left: Nathan, Mike, Myself, Tim, Krista. Kevin took the photos. All Littles stayed far away.)
8 weeks ago Krista bought 30 meat chicks. Once big enough to be out from under a heat lamp, she put the chicks in a chicken tractor which is like a coop on wheels, easy to move from one place to the next. Meat chickens are different than laying chickens, they eat a high protein diet and because of their breed, they bulk up fast. At 8 weeks the chickens can hardly walk with such a weight on their legs. During these 8 weeks, 4 chickens went missing (likely during a tractor move) and then last weekend 4 suffered heat stroke and so Kevin and Krista harvested them a week early. Saturday morning we harvested 22 meat chickens. Nathan, Mike, Tim and I had never harvested or killed for food before (Krista and I didn't take part in the slaughter). Kevin and Krista had set up a work station near the house and a slaughter station off the path towards the barn. I'll give you a mental picture instead of an actual photo...the device they used for slaughter was a sort of guillotine made of upside down traffic cones on a, you know what? Forget it, I can't describe it. Just YouTube it. Ugh...
Once the chickens were dead, they were brought over in ice chests to the work station where we skinned and gutted them (this is the point when FedEx pulled up to drop off a package, what a scene we must have been...). That part was rough, especially the first chicken. I felt by the fourth I was really getting the hang of it.
After skinning and gutting, we butchered the meat and set like parts aside.
Then we cleaned up, Kevin bagged the chicken meat and we all sat around and drank a beer because whoa, that was quite an experience!
Thank you to the Potter's who have enriched our lives immensely and who are so generous in their willingness to teach and share alike.

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