Chicken Hunter II

Posted by James Hahn on

Sorry for the delay in posting. Thank you for the emails and phone calls. No, I didn't get attacked and no, I didn't chicken out. Sorry too, but no pictures!

WARNIING: This post is not for the faint of heart! You have been warned.

I hope I in no way misled anyone into thinking I was going to butcher all 19 chickens at one sitting. I don’t think I could have done that if my life depended on it. I killed two. Okay, it wasn’t a regular slaughter house but like I said, I had never done this before.

I woke early and ate breakfast because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach this deed on an empty stomach. After breakfast I went down stairs to prepare my tools and workplace. I set up shop underneath our deck. I mounted a couple boards between the deck posts and hung my shackles there. I took two saw horses and a board covered with wax paper and placed this “table” perpendicular to the posts and board. I heated up a large kettle of water and waited for the light.

When I was able to see and the water was heated to the correct temperature I went out to the coop. I have killed many wild animals in my life and I have field dressed them with no problem but today my heart was beating like wild. It was sort of like the feeling you get when your sitting in the woods and a 350 point buck walks within twenty feet of you, we call it buck fever. Perhaps this was chicken fever, or the beginnings of …bird flu…sorry.

I walked into the coop almost apologetically and looked at all the chickens sitting on the roost. It would be easy picking, they all just looked at me the way they do every other morning. I grabbed the rooster closest to the door by the feet and turned around and walked out. He didn’t flop much or make much of a sound. I carried him slowly and thoughtfully to the gallows.

I am not heartless enough to tell all that took place but I will say that I learned a great deal about what NOT to do for the next one. By the time I was ready for bird number two the boys were up and had had their breakfast. It was cool still and they had their sweatshirts on and rubber boots. They were ready for killing. I thought for sure that they wouldn’t want to see how it was done but they insisted. It never crossed my mind that they might have a completely different idea about what I was going to do even though I tried to explain it. Anthony, who is 5, was ready to watch and to help. Christopher, who is 4 wanted to help pull out the feathers. William, who will be two in November, was just happy to be with dad and his brothers.

I went to the coop and grabbed another rooster and walked back to my station. I hung the bird by its feet and grabbed his head with my left hand. With my right I slid the knife into its neck and turning the blade 90 degrees with a flick of my wrist I slit the rooster’s throat. The boys stood watching in awe. Christopher was amazed while Anthony was just a little pale. They started when the bird flopped a bit before dying but in 30 seconds it was all over. I let the bird hang there to drain the blood and turned toward my table to prepare for the work. From behind me I heard Anthony say, “Dad, I didn’t know that was how you were going to kill them. I thought you were just going to punch him real hard.” I tried not to laugh and simply told him that was how you killed them. They were both anxious to see the plucking.

After plucking I put the carcass on the table to begin “dressing” it out. This was the most fascinating part of the process for the boys and an educational one too. They gathered around as I pulled out the parts and pieces. We discussed each one and its purpose and whether we had something similar. Near the end I pulled out the heart and showed it to the boys who were touching the bird and poking around in the gut bucket. I turned toward them so it really did look like a heart. I asked them if they knew what it was. Anthony said, “I think it is his penis.”

After finishing the second bird, I decided it was going to get too hot to safely process any more so we would have to save more killing for the following weekend. The boys were disappointed to say the least. We spent the afternoon making a nesting box since the hens should be getting close to laying. They’re probably just waiting for all those dang rooster to disappear.

At dinner Anthony relayed to my wife detailed information about every part that he had seen pulled from the chicken. He told her of how there was a bucket full of blood. Christopher concurred stating that there were gallons. They relayed to her the entire process as she tried to eat her stir-fry.

We decided to butcher what we could and give the rest away to someone else who wanted the meat or to perhaps teach their children about butchering. The boys are looking forward to the next time of processing and I am glad. I think it is normal. Many folks would want to call children’s services on me, but I think that is only a sad commentary on the world we live in today, one that is detached from reality. I want my children to be rooted in the natural rhythms of life not in a world of false reality.

The other side of this picture is breeding the chickens where the boys will learn in a natural way about the transmission of life. This will assist us in transmitting the teachings of Christ and His Church in the areas of human love and reproduction. Unfortunately, today many are confused, like Anthony was when I pulled out the heart. They think their heart is their….well……...and vice versa!

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