On Monday morning, my calendar flashed my appointments for the week. “What in the WORLD could I possibly have scheduled for 7:00am on Wednesday morning?” was my bleary-eyed question to myself.
Here’s what the calendar said: “7:00 a.m. Chicks 12 weeks”
Ah. It’s much more clear now. The meat birds are ready to be butchered.
And boy howdy are they! Unlike the last two batches of meat birds that I have raised, these feathered friends are actually CROWING in the morning. It’s past time, it would seem like, for them to be freezer fare. What a big task ahead for me: I received 52 chicks in the mail the first week of June. Eleven of these creatures were exempt from butchering, as they’re the new crop of laying hens (plus rooster). Chicken Patty gets a husband and at least two sister-wives, so there go another 3 chickens. And then there’s the turkey baby, and then there’s the 5 goslings, who are now full-sized geese. Thirty-eight chickens, one turkey, and five geese.
I happened to be on a post-movie panel discussion last month with the woman who runs our Eat Local listserve. She came out to the farm and graciously took three of my new laying hen chicks, plus extra rooster, off my hands, as she had decided Speckled Sussex was what she wanted to concentrate on for her own dual-purpose birds, but (sadly) a raccoon ate all but two of hers. So we were doing the Chicken Talk thing, and I asked her how often she made it out to my neck of the woods (she lives closer to Kalamazoo, about 45 minutes east of me) and she said “every time I need to butcher the chickens.”
Apparently, the guy in town with the sign on his lawn that advertises deer processing is an all-around butcher, and he charges $2.50 a chicken, and $7.00 for geese.
Part of the reason I am doing this whole poultry-ranching thing is to have a complete connection with the entirety of what goes into our meals. Butchering the birds is a part of that, albeit a not terribly pleasant part; I do it alone, as my husband wants no part of it but the eating, and all my friends are not exactly…the types of folks who get into this kind of thing. To do all those birds would take every weekend day from now until October. But: $2.50 a bird!
I checked out the guy’s facilities, chatted with him for a while, and have made another calendar date regarding the chickens. But this time the date won’t surprise me.
Turkey girls love playing King of the Hill. Earl of course just likes to show off his stuff “to the ladies.”