Sunday, May 1, 2011

My First Chicken Kill

I don't even know where to begin as today was an overwhelming and intense day for me. I guess I will start at the beginning. Today I was at the farm Backyard Moon and I participated in their first chicken kill. It sounds gruesome and disturbing and at first sight I got anxious, teary eyed and wanted to run. I held it together and I just asked a ton of questions. I cant say I jumped right in to the very humane ritual but I eased in slowly starting at the beginning.The chickens are kept in portable chicken pens which fertilize the soil for future chickens & pastures. They are moved everyday and get a fresh square of grass, bugs and weeds to eat. They are in a living environment where they are closest to being to their natural outdoor environment which end results in the best chickens you could possibly have.
They were grabbed by Jason and friends (including a 5 year old kid) from the pen which they would never see again and handed to me. I grabbed them by their feet and put them in portable crates and made sure there was 12 to each crate. That was actually the hardest part for me and I was a little afraid of the chickens. They totally sensed my fear and when I was calm they were calm. I told Jason I thought they were all the screaming the word "NO" as Jason was quickly grabbing them by their feet and Jason assured me they were not saying "NO" but rather "MUTHER FUCKER". That put a smile on my face for a minute.
They are then brought over to where the killing takes place. They are individually put inside metal cones head first which keep them really calm. They are killed by one person who carefully and skillfully cuts the carotid artery and Jason did most the killing. Its a slow peaceful death where the blood just pours out of them into buckets.
They are then scaled by a volunteer in hot water very quickly which loosens up the feathers and then into a machine that kind of looks like a clothing dryer which efficiently removes almost all of the feathers. Next they are slid across the disinfected stainless steel table stations where happy eager volunteer's are removing limbs, beheading, and eviscerating them. I was at the end of the line in quality control and was making sure all the organs were removed, plucking the last of the feathers that need to be plucked, checking for lacerations, cleaning and then chilling them.
At the end of the day I did kill one myself. Jason held the head for me as I couldn't do it myself but I did cut. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.
I learned so much today and am blown away about how much I really don't know about the chickens I eat, where they are coming from and how they are killed. We all need to educate ourselves because society does not do it for us. When I get back to San Diego I am going to purchase pastured raised chickens from a local farm like Backyard Moon. It increases the health of our chickens and our land and they have no hormones or antibiotics fed to them. I did some research and found a farm in San Diego called Womach Ranch Farm and they are at the Hillcrest Farmers Market every Sunday.
Now I see why the farmers and volunteers I was surrounded by today are smiling and listening to Bob Marley playing in the back ground during the chicken slaughters. They are participating in something humane, something they believe in, and teaching eager learners like me. We all achieved something today.
Thank you Jared from I'm High On Cooking for having me participate. If I am ever lucky enough to be back here I will volunteer to help again.

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