Category Archives: butchering

Raising Chickens

It’s been a few years since we first brought chickens home. It’s been an adventure. I have funny stories, I have sad stories, I have unexplainable stories. I love having chickens. I wouldn’t change that for anything, but having chickens is hard and easy at the same time.

The big coop with vines added for sun protection and bushes for dog protection.

The big coop with vines added for sun protection and bushes for dog protection.

Inside with various stages of boxes, waterers, and feeders. It's a learning process.

Inside with various stages of boxes, waterers, and feeders. It’s a learning process.

This year I had the baby fluff itch and bought 10 new hatchlings in the spring. As odds would have it 5 turned out to be roosters, of the 5 hens only three made it to adulthood because our dogs got ahold of them. We decided this go round we would keep one rooster for potential breeding purposes. So a few months back when the crowing got to be too much and the roos were big enough (sort of) we slaughtered them and froze them for food. A lot of people ask if it’s difficult for us. My response is always that I know the chickens have had a good life and they’re slaughtered humanely. It’s a lot easier to kill a chicken than you’d think. The best advice I have for you if you decided to eat your chickens, is to never view them as pets. They are livestock. Over the years I had some chickens that I’ve become attached to and I was very upset when they died (illness or predator attack). But, the rooster and most of the hens are livestock to me. When it’s their time it’s their time.

Well back to this year of chicken. The rooster we kept, Doplh, was not very bright, and hen pecked, but we liked him in all his goofiness. He was kept because he had an excellent 80’s rock mullet of feathers and a comb over. This weekend he was acting strange, and died. I found him lying down and separated him from the ladies just in case he was sick. We really have no idea why he died, but have a theory about his crop being full. I disposed of him before I learned of this potential cause so I have no way of inspecting.  So we are back down to just the ladies.

We also received 4 baby chicks from a friend a few weeks back. One of them died, and we were worried it was coccidoisis, however, it never spread to the other chickens so I’m unsure why. We only learned of the potential of cocci after they had been introduced to the main flock. The friend who gave them to me also lost a few of her babies, and we both observed bloody stools. Typically if there is a risk of it you want to quarantine quickly, but since all the remaining flock appears to be healthy we’ve left them together.

Unfortunately the baby drama doesn’t end there. One of my broody hens, Jack, attacked one of the babies and nearly killed her. So Jack and the baby have been in quarantine for the last week. Jack has received a lot of submissive training because she decided to start attacking me too. After a week she seemed to calm down quite a bit and has been slowly reintroduced back to the flock. During her time in lock down she started picking out her feathers, so I worried she was stressing too much and actually moved her jail (dog kennel) inside the big coop.

Jack in lock down

Jack in lock down

Now she seems okay, but we’re watching her aggression. The baby she attacked is a survivor, so we named her Gloria Clucker. She has healed well but is still recovering. I’ve moved her out of quarantine in the garage and back into the coop. She is not yet ready to be part of the big flock yet but hated being alone so she is in the dog kennel that Jack used to be in.

I told T recently that after all this craziness, we’re not getting any new chickens for awhile! We are currently at 10 large hens, and 3 babies. Below are the pictures of all the ladies with a quick introduction to their personalities. Not pictured are Dusty Chickenfield and Snowflake, they’re part of my March babies, and are super fast! They’re small game chickens and not very personable closer to wild birds than the friendly livestock nature of my others.

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Bridgette on top- partially blind, incredibly spastic, achieved pet status by being so very strange, no eggs yet born in March, possible rooster? Pollox on bottom

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T-bone and the two babies- T-bone is my smallest full grown hen, she’s a silkie about 1.5 years old, and she’s adopted the two easter egger chicks as her own.

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Jack out of lock down, minus some feathers- she’s incredibly broody, recently aggressive towards people and chickens, in training to hopefully fix her of that.

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Bandit- smaller black and grey hen. one of the head ladies, decent layer, friendly Big Red- she and bandit are in charge and often found together, Red comes running every time she sees me because she knows I bring the kitchen scraps. Red is one of my oldest ladies.

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Monday- shy, large egg layer, stays to herself mostly.

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Castor – Pollox’s sister, likes to catch lizards, more dominant and less broody than her sister, very noisy hen.

She's a survivor!

Gloria Clucker- She’s a survivor! She is a buff orpington, pretty tame, and recovering very well.

Finally the terrible eat beasts! Despite every enhancement we make to the coop to dog proof it, they find a way to get a couple a year. To be honest sometimes it’s our fault for not double checking the count and finding the chicken before letting them out.

We eat mommy's chickens!

Dagney and Roark- We eat mommy’s chickens!

It’s a long one but so much is happening on the chicken side, I had to update. Keep an eye out for the next one.


Wild Hog

My friend Ryan Called me last week and told me he caught a hog and wanted to know if I’d be interested in helping him butcher it. I was so excited! I spent the whole morning of watching videos on how to do this. These videos are amazing and offers great tips. The hog was on ice and already skinned and quartered when he came over so a lot of the hard stuff was already done. But, I still learned a lot and made an enormous mess in the process. These are some pictures of our afternoon of grinding, cutting, and trimming.

Pulling a full rack of ribs from the chest. The dark part is near where the hog was shot which resulted in some bruising.

These are the ribs after trimming and cutting smaller so they’ll fit into vacuum seal bags.

A femur bone that I roasted for stock later.

This is a shoulder roast that we trimmed and cut up into small pieces for sausage. We made a ton of sausage.

Soon to be sausage.

The endless run of sausage. This was before we attached it to the counter with clamps. It is a hand cranking one that really needs to be bolted down. In the end I got out my Kitchenaide grinder too. We had so much meat that it was easier this way.

The hand grinder with the aforementioned clamps.

The I kept the windows open to help keep the kitchen extra cold and we tried to do one-quarter at a time keeping the rest on ice and freezing it when complete to make sure everything stayed at a good temperature. I have to say when we were done it was so nice to just sit by a heater and warm up.

We trimmed up some ribs, hams, loins, and a few chunks of meat for stew or whatever. The rest was ground into sausage.

We ground a lot of meat this day. When you grind meat it is best to freeze it first. The fat and connective tissues will gunk up the grinding plates and it will be terribly difficult to do otherwise. It is also important to save as much fat as you can when trimming to add into the sausage. If your hog is very lean you will want to add in some commercial pork fat. Sausage will taste dry and chalky if you don’t have enough fat in it.  We seasoned four different kinds, a maple kind, a spicy kind, a herb garlic, and an Italian.

Our method for stuffing the sausage was not ideal so we stopped after one batch and saved the rest for the next day when Ryan had a better stuffer. It took us forever to load this sausage but this next picture is from his house and took maybe a minute. Much more efficient.

The kitchen had blood, ice, and small pieces of meat all over the counters and floor when we were done. I felt bad because T had just cleaned the whole house the day before. But When we were done I went through with the bleach and cleaned everything. (Not to mention the cleaning stops I made in the middle to sanitize things.)

Overall it was a great experience that has inspired me to want to learn how to butcher from beginning to end. If you ever get the chance I recommend you say yes.

This is the before shot. Did you know wild pigs were so hairy?