January 25, 2016

Arrivals and Departures

My beautiful little sister came for her first visit to Whidbey! To begin our visit, we admired the island a bit, then we ate mussels and mussels and mussels at Christopher's on Whidbey, we gave her the tour of our grand estate, then talked, talked, talked, ate good stuff, slept, talked, talked...and then ate some more good food at the Root Table in Seattle before we dropped her off.  It was incredible to have her here, and very hard to say goodbye. :'(

It was chicken culling time at our house this weekend- sighhhh. We needed to weed out any that weren't laying anymore, because it's just common sense that you don't feed organic food to an animal that isn't giving you anything in return.  But that doesn't mean it was without emotion. It really was sad. Three were chosen. Three are gone.

The awful plan started with a consult between our lovely young neighbors and my equally lovely husband.  They discussed  how to choose the right birds, when and where the deed would be done, and the best way to cover all the details. These kiddos have saved our bacon on any number of occasions since we moved in and became instant chicken parents.  You might say these kids are really good eggs. :)  I'm all done with the puns now - probably.

We were fortunate to have use of the equipment that our neighbors rented to cull their own, larger flock.  Here it is all set up on their patio. This is the same set-up we used this summer when we helped with 150 birds.  It's pretty slick.  It starts with a humane cutting, then scald, de-feather, and go. WARNING - the next photos show the process more "intimately".  If you can't handle the truth about where you're fried chicken came from, stop reading now.

Here are some shots of the process in motion. Our lovely neighbor kids and my lovely husband hard at work.  And yes, it was as rainy and cold as it looks, and there was a little extra waiting while the water heated properly, but they got the job done!

This is how our birds looked when they came home from the neighbors.  Already in pretty nice shape.

After a little rinse, they were ready for me to do "my thing". The job of eviscerating was my acquired skill this summer.

Pulling out the innards without having various parts and pieces burst is the aim.  There's a lot of tightly connected goods in there.  These birds were layers rather than meat birds, which is what we processed this summer.  There were some interesting differences, like a bright yellow fat layer. From what I've read, this is a sign of good health and a good diet.

It's a fascinating anatomy lesson.  Trying to identify the parts is kinda fun. This is a chicken lung.  Now that is interesting, I don't care who you are!

Here they all are in a Conga line.  They're all cleaned up and ready for the freezer. We are told the meat will be tough, so they are really only good for broth.  We shall see!

In just a few weeks we'll have another arrival - baby ducks!  We have three ordered and we're beginning to get our supplies ready for getting them started on the right foot.  The plan is for them to share space with the chickens, laying some nice eggs for us, and we're also planning on them eating all the disgusting slugs out of our garden.  But, making plans is tricky, no???  We'll see!

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