Chicken Processing at Home Reinforces Feelings for Processing Meat Myself

| 10/13/2009 2:26:00 PM

A portrait of GRIT Assistant Editor Caleb Regan, with a puny catch.This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of taking part in a group chicken processing project as part of our Community Chickens venture, and it was a fulfilling experience processing meat that I won’t soon forget, even after I cook and eat the birds I brought home.

I’ve long been a fan of providing my own meat, a process I learned about growing up on a farm where hunting and fishing were encouraged recreational hobbies. This experience was much different though, as it brought together members of GRIT, MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Ogden Publications advertising staff and spouse and offspring, and thrust us all together into the business of killing and cleaning meat birds. We had a great setup at GRIT Editor Hank Will’s Osage County Kansas farm.

Unlike my experiences with pheasant and other game birds, these were chickens just like I’d usually buy at the store – albeit more humanely raised – which I’d never fully processed before, with people whom I’d only had a professional relationship with. It was awesome.

The evisceration table, along with MOTHER EARTH NEWS' Megan Phelps and Troy Griepentrog.

For me, my goal at the outset was to have a hand in every phase to fully be able to process a chicken in the future, which I want to do again someday.

In the kill cones, I took part in the dispatching early on in the day. Next, it was on to the scalding tank, where I dunked a rooster for about a minute, then to the plucker, which worked beautifully. I only had to spend about five minutes at most cleaning the final feathers off the chicken. And then came the evisceration table, and it was here that I spent most of the remainder of the day.

S.M.R. Saia
10/27/2009 5:31:33 AM

Thanks for this great post. I really enjoyed reading it and learned a lot.

Brenda Kipp_1
10/20/2009 4:42:31 PM

Excellent blog, Caleb. I appreciated hearing about your experience. Although I've never processed an animal for food, I came to appreciate the natives way of thinking about animals when I was in Alaska. They have a respect for the animal laying down it's life, so to speak, for their survival. They also use every part of the animal, not only for food, but clothing and tools.

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