Monday, September 26, 2011

Chicken News

The past few weeks, things have changed a bit in the 'chicken department' of our little farm, as two weeks ago today, Leah and I butchered all 28 of our old laying hens. (Well, Dad did the first part of it, and then we did the actual butchering.) Since we don't have things like a plucker, and since these birds didn't have a lot of meat on them, we butchered differently than the conventional method and just removed the breast meat and the legs and thighs. We set up a table outdoors in the shade, and brought out a CD player so we could listen to music as we worked. We had an enjoyable time together, though were glad when the last few were finally finished!

It took us maybe four hours to do all of them, and then we came in and finished washing and packaging up all of the meat (Mom had already done the first batch and gotten that in the freezer.) As we packaged, we weighed the bags and tallied up the total which we were surprised to discover . . . 41 pounds of meat! From just our old laying hens! We've had some of the meat so far (baked), and the flavor was delicious, but it was rather chewy (not tough, just . . . chewy.) Good jaw exercise, right? :) As Leah and I said, though, it's the only type of chicken our pioneer ancestors would have known! And we sure enjoyed it. Especially knowing that it was our own meat raised without hormones, etc., and plus, that it was processed safely.


With the butchering finished and the coop emptied of its occupants, Leah set to work getting it all cleaned out in preparation for moving our new batch of hens and the two roosters over there. It was a big job, and as she doesn't do anything halfheartedly, by the time she was finished, the coop about looked like new . . .

Looking in from the doorway . . . the hanging feeder is in the foreground and the row of nestboxes is in the back. And one thing on our to-do list is to make more nestboxes! This time around we got more hens so we'll be needing more boxes than what we have right now.

And to the left are the roosts

It was a job getting the new flock used to the coop, and especially getting the hens who had started laying above the rabbit cages to start laying in the coop!

Trying to decide . . . is it as scary in there as what it looks?
Thankfully they're all adjusted to the coop now!


*Photo credits for all of the photos in this post go to my dear Mom. :)

12 comments:

  1. It was so wonderful to read of your time as you worked with your hands and were blessed with the fruit of that...thank you for sharing!

    In Christ,
    ~Shannon~

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  2. Wow... what a job! :) I love animals, and chickens especially, but I cannot get over the part of butchering once they're past useful-ness. Your chicken coop looks great, though! Thank you for sharing!

    Blessings in Christ,
    Mikailah~

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  3. How wonderful! So what do you do with all the leftovers of what you don't use for meat? Is there any way to *recycle* the leftovers at all?

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  4. Yummy, chicken! What time is supper?"-)

    I'm thinking that butchering 28 chickens may have been what did your shoulder in. Yep. Blame the chickens. That's my motto.

    :-)Betsy

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  5. I am glad that you enjoyed it, Shannon! And thank you for your sweet comment. :)

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  6. It was quite a job, Mikailah! It's nice to have both things finished now. Butchering isn't the most pleasant job in the world, but at least for us here, it needed to be done. And our young flock sure seems to be enjoying their 'new' coop! Chickens are fun animals, aren't they? It sure is nice having them, and the eggs are definitely a plus. :)

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  7. The leftovers that we didn't use for meat, we just had to discard, Nabila. It wasn't really worth the time and effort to do anything with them as there wasn't really much left to use. Now if they had been birds raised specifically for meat, that would have been a different story! :)

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  8. If you lived closer, Betsy, we could invite you over for a meal of chicken!

    I'm thinking that you are right in your assumption that butchering the 28 chickens had something to do with my shoulder. :) (It was already bothering me some then, and I think that the butchering just made it worse.)

    As always, your comment brought a smile to my face . . . thank you for brightening my day up with the humor!

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  9. Hi Sarah,
    That is one awesome hen house! And so clean ~ I need to clean mine out. Yep, old hens can be chewy. I use them in stews and chicken salad (chopped fine) and it's pretty good that way. I only have 8 hens and 1 rooster right now, but over the years, no matter how many hens I had, they always only roosted in two nests boxes! It's always the same two boxes, one on top and one on bottom right underneath, by the door. I don't know why they won't lay in any of the others. :-) I'll find 7 eggs on the top and one on the bottom, or sometimes all in one nest! I've had chickens for 16 years and wouldn't be without them for eggs and meat. Like you said, we know what we're eating. :-)
    Blessings,

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  10. Thank you for your comment, Mrs. Anne! My Dad and Leah designed the coop and then built it together with some help from Ryan and a teeny tiny bit from me. We really like it! And especially after it gets a good cleaning like this.

    The way you use your old hens is how we will primarily be using ours. Though, I put a bunch of legs and thighs in the crockpot the other morning and left them in there all day thinking that we could then just pull the meat off of the bone. Nope, that wasn't happening! We had to use steak knives to get it off! Once it was shredded, though, it was SO good!

    That's funny about your hens and the two nestboxes! Our hens tend to have their favorite boxes as well, and sometimes there will be two hens squeezed into one box even if all the other boxes are empty! Chickens can certainly be entertaining. :)

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  11. Your chicken coop looks so nice! My dad is still working on his. He got caught up with his greenhouse and then planting the garden and still has some parts to finish. I don't know when they'll get some chickens. It looks like they'll have to wait until next year--poor Dad!

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  12. Thank you, Joy! Hopefully your Dad will be able to get his finished soon. I can relate, though, to getting caught up with other projects! There always seems to be so much to do and not enough time for everything so prioritizing is a must. :) And while they haven't been able to get chickens yet, they can look forward to hopefully getting them in the spring!

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)