Time to bring the pumpkins into the basement, before the heavy frosts spoil them. We planted these in the middle of July, but still got a fairly respectable harvest.
The first of the chickens on their way to the chopping block. Jonathan wound up doing most of this part of the job. You can't help but feeling sorry for these poor birds as you're hauling them off. Still, they had a chance to express their chickeness (as author Joel Salatin puts it) by living outdoors and having a chance to scratch for food, etc. The chicken you eat at a fast food restaurant lived its short life confined in a dark building with thousands of other chickens and never saw the sun or a blade of grass. A chicken that has lived outdoors, eaten green leaves and bugs, vegetable scraps and berries tastes Soooooo much better than your industrial chicken that you wonder why we ever settled for factory food. The answer of course is because it is less expensive; but considering that we are what we eat, do we really do ourselves a favor by eating the cheapest food we can find?
Our friends the Sullivans came over with their children to observe and assist. It's good to know where your food actually comes from.
Sue, Nora and Jake observing the fine art of digging the guts out a chicken. There are a lot of smells associated with this phase of the process. It was a cold day so I had heated the garage and used my table saw, covered with plastic, as a work table. The warmth made for a comfortable working environment, but it also, shall we say, enhanced the fragrance.
I borrowed a motorized chicken plucker from a friend who had built it. You must first dip the birds in 160 degree water for nearly a minute ( I didn't time this, just checked the feathers to see how easily they came off), then drop them in the barrel and turn on the switch. The while drum has rows of rubber fingers and encloses a spinning base covered with similar fingers, so that the chicken is tumbled and tossed about and the feathers are pulled off. With the right scald (correct water temperature and duration), the picker works like magic. After 15 seconds you have fully plucked bird.
Sully wanted to learn this part of the trade, so I glady apprenticed him. After a few hundred more chickens I am confident that he will qualify for a journeyman's license. In all we processed 28 birds in about 3 hours, not counting lunch and coffee breaks. Next year I think we'll do turkeys however. Having to process only 7 or 8 turkeys started to sound real good somewhere around bird number 20.