Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving updates

We hosted several visitors for Thanksgiving dinner and associated festivities last week, and the events seemed worthy of a few notes. First, thanks to those visitors, our wood pile is bigger (still nowhere near enough to see out the winter) and the hard part of running some new wiring is all done. The puppy proved himself fairly well-behaved around people he didn't know, and no mice showed up (as far as we know) to scare away our less mice-accustomed guests.

Dinner featured a dish that was new to all of us, namely locally-raised rooster. When we ordered our chickens in July, we didn't specify the gender (chickens can most easily be shipped when only a day old, because they don't yet need to eat, but it's not always possible to determine gender efficiently on chicks that old, for some varieties) and we ended up with more than half of them males. Pro-tip: it pays to cough up the extra dough for chicks of known gender. Anyway, our roosters old enough to start crowing now, which means big enough to consider eating, and there's little point in trying to support eight or ten roosters all through winter. So we began culling the flock with two Thanksgiving roosters. All told they were very tasty, but more rubbery than we're used to in chicken. Eventually we'll probably learn better how to ... erm ... take them from coop to oven efficiently, but suffice it to say roosters' heads aren't necessarily firmly attached. We also need to learn about removing feathers, 'cuz roosters come with lots of them. Coming up, fresh guinea fowl -- some of our lavender and white guineas are mean.

Recently a scrap metal collector came by. We've quite the pile of stuff out in the field I anticipated letting him cart off for us, but after his visit and with helpful input from neighbors, I reconsidered. One suggested I should be conservative in what assets I sell as scrap, or later on I might be "kicking myself in the asset." So when he showed up prepared to run off most of the pile, we had to spend a while working out details. In the end, in exchange for various items, the collector and his machinery cleared off the major bits from a section of land where we hope to put fruit trees next spring, which I consider a fair trade. Sometime I need to hit eBay et al. to rid myself of some of the non-scrap pieces. Anyone interested in a set of corn planters? Perhaps an old manure spreader? Let's talk deal!


  1. Sounds like you had a fun thankgiving! You did forget to post picture though. grr.

  2. Are you offering manure with the spreader?

  3. Having disposed of a bunch of meat birds this past weekend, this topic is fresh in my mind. The head chopping works if you can hold the sucker down. Otherwise, throat-slitting and waiting is a good (and less blood-splattery) way to go. For the feathers, a pot full of hot water works wonders! Dunk the fully-feathered bird in for 3-5 minutes, and the feathers will more easily come out. If you kill at a time of year when bloodfeathers aren't as prolific, it will be a LOT easier.

    There are some really good online tutorials too about what to remove when (gut-wise), removal of the lower spine gland, and then remembering to ice them afterwards. All helps with the taste.

    Having butchered roosters (of egg-layers) and having butchered meat birds (meant for eating), there is a huge difference in the physiology of the birds (and, as I'll try out soon, supposedly the taste too). Roosters of egg layers are much better (supposedly) in a long roast or soup-- French recipes are good for this.

  4. I didn't forget the pictures... I just haven't gotten around to it yet :) As to methods, etc., I suspect we'll try out a few more butchering techniques shortly, as there's no good reason for us to keep 8 roosters over the winter. The stock we made from the carcasses was *awesome*. And as to manure, I'm sure we could include some if you'd like.