Mother’s Day 2016

Reader Contribution by Robert Pekel
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I had a productive day planned for Sunday; unfortunately I forgot it was Mother’s Day. Fortunately my wife’s a trooper. The good news was the whole family was able to get together. The bad news was I had the day scheduled to butcher chickens.  My wife does love bringing the family together and she enjoys raising chickens, but butchering on Mother’s Day wasn’t my best idea.

Butchering chickens can get a bit intense. Plucking feathers can get old. It’s one of those jobs that can’t wait until tomorrow once begun. The best way to tackle the butcher day is with teamwork. There were seven of us to do the job. My wife, daughters, and soon to be daughter-in-law (I think, maybe not after butcher day), did what I call the fine-tuning. This means getting off all the pinfeathers to the point the bird is feather free. It is is a tedious job and they do it well. It’s fun to listen to them laugh and carry on throughout the process.

My son and son-in-law scald and do the quick pick, which is stripping the bulk of larger feathers off in handfuls. They then hand the chickens over to the girls for the fine tune.Before the boys can scald and quick pick some has to do the nasty job of the kill. My method has evolved to what I feel is the most merciful option to end their life, which is to use a chicken cone.

A chicken cone to designed to hang the chicken upside down with its head and neck exposed through a hole in the cone. Hanging a chicken upside down somewhat pacifies the bird. I guess you can all figure out what happens next. It is a quick, and clean system that is as painless as possible for the bird.  

I need to point out that my birds have a good life. In an industrial farm complex, 52,000 birds will be stuffed into a metal building without ever seeing the sun, or being able to forage in the fresh air. Industrial feed is a special concoction that contains goodies such as arsenic to increase their appetite. The lights are left on 24/7 so they never stop eating. After five weeks of this torture, they are shipped off to slaughter.

My birds, on the other hand, are fed normal food without poisons, get outside to forage for a natural diet, and sleep at night. It takes close to twelve weeks to get them up to size this way, but they are much happier chickens.

When the job is done we cool them off in ice water for a couple of hours, then package them up in freezer bags. Everyone takes chicken home. Butchering is a good job to have done, and the game changer is teamwork, but the lifesaver was that I remembered to buy a Mother’s Day present.

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