Archive for the ‘Food’ Category


Project 46: Lessons learned

December 25, 2011

I Got Bored So I Roasted a Chicken - Picture of My Dinner 9-30-08

Final guest post by Nicole:

The verdict:  Butchering is so stinkin easy.

Lessons learned:
– This is definitely a craft.  And unlike with needlepoint, if you don’t do this well the animal suffers.  Do yourself a favor and find someone to guide you through the process in real life the first time you attempt it.  I have a lot more respect for butchers now.
– Butchering goes much, much easier for both you and the chicken if you have sharp knives.
– It’s better to kill chickens on a sunny day that’s not too cold or too hot, preferably fall after the flies have settled down.
– Taking the life of a living creature hasn’t gotten easier for me a dozen birds in, but there is a huge satisfaction in knowing that I can put meat on my family’s table without a grocery store.  Organic, pastured chicken is delicious... and cheap if you do it at home.

Many thanks to Nicole for this great series!

Photo by The_Smiths on Flickr


Project 46: Cleaning the bird

December 25, 2011

Another guest post by Nicole:

After the chickens are plucked, we chop off the head and feet.  We didn’t keep the feet this time, but you can.  You have to descale them and then freeze them until you have enough so you can make Pipius Claw, which is one my daughter’s favorite snacks.   Or you can make broth like some sort of pujwI’ if you can’t handle gnawing on feet.

Removing the feet

Then comes the part where you want to make sure you are doing this outdoors:  start taking out the innards.  First we remove the crop from the top of the bird.

Removing the crop

It’s kinda gross inside, so we try not to accidentally cut it open, though I don’t think it ruins the meat if it that happens.  Then we very, very carefully cut around the anal vent to free it from the fat and skin.

Cutting out the anal vent

Once you get through to the membranes, you carefully separate the intestines form the surrounding membranes.  When I get to this point, I prefer to use my hands lest I cut the intenstines… which *would* ruin the meat.  Eventually you work your way around the insides enough that they sort of fall out of the bottom cavity.  If they don’t come out easily, you have to go back in and remove more membranes.

Removing the organs
Once they are out, it’s easy enough to remove the gizzard, liver, and heart.  There’s a tiny little green sac attached to the liver you have to remove.  Don’t puncture that either.  A chicken liver is a horrible thing to waste.  We have not yet bothered cleaning out the gizzards.  I used to eat them all the time in North Carolina, but I am much less enthusiastic having come into contact with them in their natural state.

Removing the green thing from the liver

Wash the bird up and store it in your preferred manner and you’re almost done.  The cleanup is easy if you do this outside and keep a trash can for the discards.


Project 46: Killing the bird

December 25, 2011

This guest post is by Nicole:

This year I made a new friend and my new friend wanted to raise chickens. She just didn’t want to kill them. I couldn’t raise chickens (we rent), and I figured, “How hard would it be to kill a few chickens? My grandmother did it all the time.” So a deal was struck and eggs were incubated. The chicks were adorable and survived the curiosity of six kids under the age of 5. Thus we found ourselves actually going to do this crazy thing. (About 60% of the time, I never actually follow through with my crazy urban homesteading plans… so this was kind of a shock for me.) We killed probably ten chickens and ducks combined this summer, thus I think I’m still squarely in the “First Crafts” range of my experience.

This tutorial looks very good in theory. We didn’t actually follow it. But we probably should. Maybe next time.

Stringing up the chicken

First you catch the chicken. To me, this is the most difficult part of killing chickens. I do not like holding live animals… so I let Anna do that part. She ties them up for me too. The day we chose to kill them was very rainy. This was a mistake. The chickens required a significant bath before we dunked them to pluck.

Doing the deed

I like to grab the head and pull the neck straight to get a good view of the neck. The first couple times I did this I just tried to slice right through feathers and everything. That seemed to work for Anna’s husband (who could cut the head right off in one go), but I didn’t have the strength to do the same. I finally figured out that if you slide the knife in under the feathers so that it rests against the skin, when you cut you will easily slice through the jugular. Ideally, I would repeat this on the other side of the neck, but I admit that having the chicken protest the first cut always startles me so much that I let go. If you do it right, the blood will flow freely and the bird will die within a minute. Let it finish bleeding out, then proceed to the next bird.

Letting the chicken bleed out

Once you’ve killed the birds, then you have to scald them to make plucking easier. There exists machines to do this for you, but honestly it is so easy I don’t really know why one would bother with the expense unless one was raising many birds for sale.

Dunking the chicken to loosen the feathers

And kids LOVE to pluck… so we let them. (At least, with the chickens. I don’t let them near the more finicky duck feathers.)

Plucking the chicken


Project 46: Chicken

December 25, 2011


Merry Christmas everyone! Thank you for supporting me this year on my crazy blog journey. I have learned so many new skills and gotten to know so many creative people. You have all been a great gift to me. Thanks!

Today I have a special treat for you. Many of us crafters are aware that what we’re doing is resurrecting and preserving the skills of our mothers and grandmothers. Nicole is going to share with us another skill that our foremothers and fathers knew how to do: raise animals for food.

I’ll share her posts in a series over the course of the day. Thanks for reading!

Photo by k.hoppdelaney on Flickr