Grit Blogs > One Foot in the City

The Saturday Afternoon Chicken Caper

One Foot in the CitySeveral years ago I brushed elbows at desks with professionally employed people who did more restaurant dining than home cooking. Representing the “new American woman” image, my female friends had been born into the metropolitan lifestyle and had little experience with raising animals or crops. It was only as the organic food movement and a true revival of sustainable lifestyles began to be known that I found more and more friends who considered themselves “urban farmers” or “urban homesteaders.”

Barbs girls 

While most of my friends now raise a bit of a garden, a few also have joined the “backyard chicken movement,” which reportedly is taking place across the United States. Although poultry raising was common in small towns of America a hundred years ago, it is gaining surprising popularity even in larger cities today. Evidence the “Tour de Coop” activities and backyard chicken cooperatives for the power of community brought about by raising a few chickens!

barbs chickens

Recently, my own experience with birds was called into action by my friends Barb and Van, who have been raising bantam chickens for a couple of years. Barb and I belong to the same quilt bee, which is made up of women with rural backgrounds and all have an enormous fondness for chickens. One day the conversation turned to the slaughter of chickens because Barb needed to cull some excess roosters from the flock. Turned out that although she and husband had learned much about the raising of the birds, they had never actually experienced the processing of the birds for meat. Enter this author for consulting and demonstration purposes.

After passing a few Kansas colder-than-heck Saturdays (thank you, God), we assembled last Saturday at 65 degrees for the process of removing said roosters from the flock. My prior arrangement with the owners was that I would gladly help with the butchering, however, I insisted, I would not participate in the killing of the birds. They agreed that they were willing to perform the act and had researched the “cone of death,” which supposedly made the killing more humane. Deal. I never did like that part.

Scalding

As can be imagined, many memories were triggered and we had many good laughs and learning from the process. Here are some pictures and some observations brought forward:

Such is the life of the urban homesteader. I sure hope there isn’t a similar process necessary for their bees though. I think I’m at my limit for micro-surgery.