A Noble Death

So, I did it. I killed my first chickens. Well, sort of.

For the life of me I just could not figure out where I was supposed to be cutting. All the videos I watched said “the area below the ear where there are no feathers” so I tried to find that spot and just couldn’t figure it out. I also wasn’t cutting with enough pressure or deep enough. So, naturally, on the first one, I ripped it’s neck open and still managed to miss the artery. Then I panicked a little and made my Dad finish that one because I didn’t want to make it linger while I figured out what I was doing wrong.

It just looked so easy in the videos. Of course, they’ve probably been at it for years and processed thousands. I just couldn’t make a clean cut. It was disheartening. NOT being able to kill them actually turned out to be worse than anything I’d anticipated. I felt defeated because I couldn’t do it and bad because my ineptitude made their deaths longer. Of the 4, I managed to severe 1 artery.

My Dad was a total champ though. He’s the big tough guy hunter/farmer, and I felt sure that he would be disappointed if I wimped out. I think the fact that I was willing to make the first cut went a long way to impressing him. He didn’t complain at all about having to take over and he didn’t tease me (one of his favorite pastimes).

After that, my Mom helped me pluck. I was amazed. She really went to town. The three of us stood around ripping feathers out of birds and talking about my great-grandmother. It was great-grandmother who taught my dad how to kill chickens when he was young. After my parents were married she taught my mom to pluck (my mom refused to do the actual killing- still does). And it was my great-grandmother who always took me out to collect eggs- one of the memories that made me want to get my own chickens. That was a good moment.

After that, we brought them inside to gut. Disappointment #2: my hands were TOO BIG to fit inside the chickens… I have wide, thick hands and they just would not fit in the chest cavities. So Mom had to step up to the plate and save me again. It was absolute hilarity! Chickens make awfully strange squelching and burping noises while you eviscerate, which I didn’t anticipate. There’s the small chance that some lungs might still be inside a chicken or two, but what harm can a lung do?

The first one we processed was the BIG mean Orpington cockerel who’s been terrorizing the other chickens and myself. He had HUGE testes! HUGE! Easily 4x the size of the others. I guess that explains why he was so aggressive. He was also very fatty. He was the biggest bird I had, but I didn’t expect that kind of fat. I would have been able to gut him if he hadn’t been so fatty.

The others were 2 Wyandottes who turned out to be fairly small (haven’t weighed them yet) and a Brahma that was decent. He was lean like the Wyandottes, but much larger. He was the only one I managed to get my hand in, and then only after accidentally tearing a leg loose.

So, far from my vision of myself as the mighty huntress, but all-in-all a good experience. Mostly I just feel that, even though I couldn’t do the deed, I stuck to my guns and didn’t run crying from the scene of the crime. My birds have lived good lives and had (mostly) good deaths and will now feed my friends and family. So, I would consider that a success.


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