Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Killing Off Roos on the Homestead

Back in late March when we bought our chicks, we bought straight runs. We knew we'd get some roosters.. We were actually praying for one of each type. Extra roos would not go to waste. They'd just go to freezer camp or the stock pot for us. We got a fifty/fifty split. I guess this was fair, but we were hoping more for a 60/40 split, hens to roosters. Well, I'm finally getting around to it.

Yeah, I know we're late in butchering. It should have happened three or four months ago. We were busy with other projects like the new coops and runs. We weren't going to use fryers for the freezer, but stew them in a stock pot. There wasn't any rush for the slaughter. We have plenty of young chickens in our freezer already, thanks to a Zaycon order earlier in the year. Next year, the plan is to harvest all our own chickens.

Of the sixteen birds we had (12 new and 4 old flock). We've lost a few over the past month due to free ranging attrition and we are down to ten. Of the ten, six are roosters. In this harvest, I'm working smarter by killing off the rooster two at a time. They are no longer tender young birds so the delay won't hurt them. It's not only the energy it take to catch, slaughter, and butcher the chickens but the processing time. The roosters has to be cooked, deboned, and then canned. The bone broth needs to be chilled, schmaltz removed (chicken fat), and then made into soups, or canned as straight broth. This takes time and space. We only have one small refrigerator. I can't justify the cost and energy use for heavy use of a second one for a few months out of a year. Before my stroke, it was nothing to butcher ten birds a day, but now, two is my limit. I plan on killing two this week and two next week. Even working within the 30 minute killing to chilling time frame for each bird. The rest tales me hours.

Mel, God love her, is tenderhearted. She can't kill our animals. Canning and cooking has never been her thing. That's okay, because it is mine. So it's left for me to handle. We both grew up in privileged, upper middle class, lower high class income households, but what we did during that time that's where the similarities differ.

My family was heavy into family activities. While we had the money for servants and any food we wanted; we camped, hunted, fished, and cooked for ourselves too. My parents wanted us to have a well round childhoods. We foraged in the woods. We preserved items we got from u-pick farms and a host of other things. My dad had two rules. You kill it; you clean it, and you eat what you kill. You don't kill for sport. Of course, it was a fun/sporting activity too. When you harvest fruits and vegetables you are also killing them so the rules still applied. Not that we NEEDED to do all of this to survive like some people, but it taught us life long survival skills. It also taught us to respect life no matter what form it took. It is also where I developed my death is the absence of learning and no education is lost principles.

For Mel, homesteading and self sufficiency was an "it would be nice" thing. But she's willing to learn. For me, I've been practicing it for fifty years thanks to my upbringing. So, butchering rabbits and chickens is a no brainer. I've got my two (21 and 23 qt) canners on the stove for boiling water. As soon as they come up to a boil, I'll set them on simmer until Mel carries them out to the big tub to help loosen the feathers on the birds. After they come to a boil, I'll run up to the store for a bag of ice for the cooler. I've already filled the cooler half way full of water and dissolved a cup of salt in it. This will help draw the blood and any impurities out of the chicken after it's gutted and before I cook them. I usually do this for two hours. It'll give me a chance to set up my cooking station.

I'll knock a rooster in the head, so it'll lay still for me to chop off its head. I'll let it thrash around in a 5-gallon bucket. Then, I'll carry it to the tub of hot water. A minute or two dunking and it's off to the plucking table. This new way of harvesting chickens for me and is a far cry from the cone method I used to use. But that method takes two hands. I have a towel on my work table so the chicken does not slide around. I'll give it whole area a quick rinse with the garden hose before I start gutting the bird. Since I'm only doing two birds a bowls will suffice for keep and discard piles. I'll rough chop the chicken into quarters so they'll fit in my stock pot easier and drop them into the ice bath. Then it's on to the next one.

I wanted to guy one of those turkey frying set ups before I harvested these birds, but all the local stores have been out of stock. My bad luck so it's carrying hot pots of water (not me but Mel). I figure they'll be back in stock for Thanksgiving.  That's okay, I'll have it for the next cycle of chickens next year. Not to mention large quantities of soups/chili/stew and tomatoes for canning.

That's it for this week.

Y'all have a blessed day.

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