Friday, August 6, 2010

Cooler Temperatures Welcome

High temperatures and humidity have not made for a very good first year with chickens.  The groups, chats and blogs have been super helpful.  I'm glad I have only a few chickens, comparatively, but it still seems like too many on some days.  The chicken's are ok now that temperatures have dropped, but humidity is on some days unbearably high.  One day this week everytime I went out the back door my glasses completely fogged up.  Probably because I keep the house too cool.  I do that because I lose a lot of energy and begin to feel nauseous when I'm in humid air for too long.  The airconditioner keeps the house a lot drier.  As a result the garden has suffered from neglect.  I'm not giving up on it for the future but for now it is still difficult to spend mornings out there with toddlers in the house.  They will get older and it will get easier I'm sure.
This spring I bought a straight run of chicks, because of this I have way too many roosters.  Even though they are not fully mature they can be quite a handful.  We watched them a lot trying to determine which ones were the worst.  One evening, July 28th we decided to try our hand at processing one, get a system started and see how it goes.
So here we are.  Nervous? yes.  Could we back out of this? no.  Once you have a livestock, you cannot turn your back on it.  It doesn't matter what kind it is.  So better pull on those boots, get the gloves and get on with it.  We actually caught and processed the wrong one.  Catching it was so hard.  But that's ok really because I'm not trying to breed chickens.  All the roosters are eventually going to the same happy place.  It has been many years since I last processed a chicken, 34 years exactly.  So yes I'm nervous, I also wanted to try something different to what we did at home when I was a kid. 
I want to use a cone instead of a chopping block.
Here is a picture of our little rudimentary set up.  The homemade cone attached to the end of an old homemade sawhorse.  A piece of plywood straddled across two smaller sawhorses and the old kitchen trash can.  The hose is conveniently nearby.  Two very sharp knives and a bucket you can barely see, under the cone and one not visible for the hot water.  We used hot water from the house and boiled a smaller pan of water.  We used a thermometer to check the waters temperature.  At this age I've read that it should be between 140 - 150 degrees F.  We had a rope hangin in the barn door.
Here's me holding the lucky guy.  This was our first.  He dressed out at 3lbs 5oz.  Not too big for this kind of chicken, but not too bad either.

Little bit skinny. But not too bad.  Tasted good too though not as tender as I had hoped.  But that's what you get for having flying running chickens, and giving them lots of room to do so.  The flavor was great.  I think we'll have to experiment with the actual cooking of the birds to find the best way.


  1. I forgot to mention this, but your comment on my blog reminded me I'd meant to comment. I've read that free range birds, especially heritage breeds, will always be tougher compared to grocery store birds due to their healthier body types and stronger muscle fibers (due to leading happy chicken lives). Most backyard poultry enthusiasts recommend stewing or pressure cooking. My chicken is extremely flavorful, but I bet it would be like chicken chewing gum if I tried to roast it! I'm a big fan of making and canning chicken soup so I can have plenty all throughout the year, and chicken pot pie is a huge hit too. We only processed 6 this year though. I'm sure next year we'll be processing a lot more.

    Your buckeyes are looking great, by the way! I'm still waiting for my first dinosaur roar out of my roo, but he's still working out his crow.

  2. Claire, the third one I cooked was awesome. Crockpot after marinating all night. The fourth one marinating for a couple of hours in red wine and chicken broth, with herbs from the garden, then roasting covered in liquid, also red wine and chicken broth. It was kind of small at 3 lbs 4 oz so only needed about 3 hours at 325. It was delicious and not tough. I got recipe ideas from the yahoo group, AmericanBuckeyeClub. Was really thankful for the experienced advice. Need to marinate in something acidic, to help break down the muscles. Anyway, it's all a lot of fun and I'm hooked. My husband is so sweet, will just eat away. But I can tell if it is good because he takes seconds. Hanna Elizabeth