Summer has now officially started! And to celebrate I spent three days processing chickens. 🙂 I only had forty-eight birds to process but it took longer than I thought it would due to the fact that it has been a few years since the last time I butchered chickens and I was a bit rusty in my method. The first day was delightfully miserable. My brother Caleb and I started around ten in the morning. It had been raining earlier in the morning but had quit around that time so we (I) thought maybe it had run its course. Well, that was wishful thinking 🙂 we had started on our first few birds when it started to rain again, and it didn’t stop all day. We had to keep going though because I had promised a customer that I would have chickens for her that evening. So, standing in the rain getting thoroughly soaked in rain and chicken water we learned what happens when the dipping water – heated water that you dunk the dead chicken in to loosen the feathers from the body for easy plucking – is too hot. I couldn’t find our thermometer that day so thought I would be able to just wing it (no pun intended) nope! Those turned out to be the ugliest chickens I have ever processed, even worse than the ones we had to skin out because the feathers refused to be plucked. The water was just hot enough to partially cook the skin causing it to turn yellow and soften to the point of tearing, thus producing birds that had torn, icky looking skin with pin feathers still sticking out because we couldn’t get them all out due to the tearing skin. Thinking the yellow skin to be a sign of good nutrition, (you know, like how egg yolks are a gorgeous orange when the hens have access to good grass and bugs ) we kept going until we had enough to fill the orders I had received. But as I was looking at the birds I could not stand the thought of selling those ugly looking things to anyone, so I called my customer and told her the situation, I asked her if she would be okay to change the time of pick-up for her chickens,( I would have nicer looking birds then) or I would give her a major discount. Thankfully that dear lady said she would opt for a change of date. 🙂 Hallelujah! I had a second chance! the second and third days went much, much better. We got on a roll and mastered the water and plucking situations. I discovered that the water was just right around 150 degrees F. The skin didn’t cook or tear and those pin feathers came right out! You learn (or remember) new things everyday! I am so thankful that I was able to have a second chance. Now onto preparations for batch two! Have a good one!
P.S. I cooked one of the uglies the other night and it still tasted much better than any grocery store chicken. 🙂