My chickens have enough heritage blood in them to go broody in the summer. I’ve tried the incubator project but nothing hatches eggs like a real chicken. When I notice the hens beginning to sit I gather large (but not too large) clean eggs, tuck them under her and hope she sits for 21days. And voila, the miracle of life, baby chicks!! And with the good comes the bad–the good, replacement hens–the bad, roosters!! On a farm, males are nothing but a bother. Yes you need one or two but the sad truth is that most of the boys, pretty though they are, are destined for freezer camp.
So a few weeks ago, after watching the forecast religiously for a warmish weekend, we decided to go for it. Little did I know that over the next couple weeks the weather only warmed unnaturally and had I waited I could have butchered in a t-shirt. Oh well.
I only had 8 roosters and ten rabbits. I gathered my supplies–my best friend, a really sharp knife. Nothing is more frustrating than a dull knife (not to mention dangerous too). This knife is a genius invention with a replaceable scalpel type blade and a no slip handle. Excellent for the job. I had prepared the fire pit a few days earlier and stocked firewood nearby. The chickens need to be dipped in HOT water to release their feathers, but not too hot so the skin doesn’t tear. We had separated the roosters from the hens a few weeks before hand. They were just too mean to the girls and I wanted them in a place where they would be easier to catch.
My chicken wrangling daughter caught them, I dispatched them, dipped them, she plucked, I gutted. Quite the assembly line. And just like that they were done. It was a cool day so we were glad to head inside. I left the chickens soaking in a salty brine to pull out the last of the blood. Then we did rabbits, which are so much easier than chickens. It took no time at all to harvest the ten rabbits, all young pet stock that didn’t sell. When we were at the coast on holiday it was quite a common occurrence to see signs advertising rabbits, PET OR POT!!
I broke the rabbits down into pieces, easier to store in the freezer and different parts are used for different dishes. Rabbit meat is much denser than chicken. I just read on a FB rabbit site that rabbit meat is more like turkey which is surprisingly accurate.
The carcasses I roasted for broth, and then I picked every shred of meat off the bones for the dog. Rabbits have a million tiny bones that can choke a dog, or puncture a gut but there is sooo much meat left on the carcass I just can’t bear to waste it. All in all a very productive harvest.