The City Girl Farmer


Just Killed and Butchered the First Chicken
August 7, 2009, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Chickens | Tags: ,
Thomas taking aim

Thomas taking aim

We had been talking about it for a while but when I came home last night my daughter told me that one of our roosters had attacked her.  My belly was starting to get full.  We have one hen who I guess is lowest on the totem pole and she stays perched in the coop all day long because as soon as she gets down to eat or drink she gets gang-banged by the roosters.  They are treading her back feathers off and I feel so sorry for her.   They consume feed and offer nothing but aggression and horniness in return.

So Thomas and I decided today was the day.  Some readers may have read about Aurelia who had to be renamed after we saw “her” climbing on to some of the hens.  It was Aurelio’s turn today.

I almost called my chicken mentor to see if she could come over to hold my hand and then I just started thinking.  What is the matter with me??  A hundred years ago a mother would send her child out to kill and butcher a chicken and bring it in to her to cook.  How hard could this be??  So we got out the book, the gun, the pot of boiling water, some knives and a table and went to work.

Thomas plucking the bird

Thomas plucking the bird

Cutting off the neck

Cutting off the neck

I discovered a few interesting things about chickens:

  • there is not as much blood as I expected
  • a rooster’s testicle must be 10 times the size of its brain (which could account for it’s nasty dispositon)
  • probably should have cold-plucked it since we were only doing one bird
  • the whole process doesn’t take very long even with two squeamish and inexperienced butchers
  • once the chicken has pissed you off enough it’s like fishing—a little gory, but not traumatic

My friend was right.  It was great to know I could do it.  The Simla butcher’s offer of $2.50 per bird done while I drink a cup of coffee still sounds appealing, though.  I’ll post again after we have eaten him.

Aurelio in the fridge

Aurelio in the fridge

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Set the Sparrow Free
August 6, 2009, 9:07 am
Filed under: Other animals | Tags: , , ,
Much more feathered out

Much more feathered out

We set Sylvester the Sparrow free.  We knew it was time when he would try to fly out of the cage when we fed him.   We have 5 indoor predators, three of which are particularly dangerous and we knew we couldn’t keep him in the cat carrier forever (although Thomas had already suggested a birdcage and a new pet.)

We went out the front door to set him free and then saw one of the barn cats walking right by the porch and decided that maybe setting him free from the balcony was a better idea.

We put him on the deck rail.  From there he flew to my shoulder, then to the nearest tree where had a very tenuous hold on a tiny branch, from there to the roof and finally to a “real” branch on a nearby tree.  Haven’t seen him since and have to confess I miss him a little.  Here are some more pictures.



Making Soap
August 6, 2009, 8:27 am
Filed under: Goats, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

My neighbor has dairy goats and I was able to get hold of a little goats milk to try my hand at soap making.  I’m afraid I’m not much of a chemist and do not really understand the saponification process.  It’s actually quite intimidating since anywhere you look on the web there are stern warnings with regard to handling lye.  I wore rubber gloves and goggles but drew the line at shoes.  It was a hot summer day.

Just poured into the mold

Just poured into the mold

As I was mixing it all together, I thought I’d check the internet to see how long it was supposed to take before “trace”, where the soap begins to thicken.  In the 5 minutes I was away from the soap it went from making a line across the top of the mixture to being a batter consistency.  Oops!  I managed to get it into the molds anyway but I’m afraid it was a little thick.  The other thing that occurred to me after the fact was that perhaps I should have weighed all the fat instead of using liquid measuring cups for the liquid fat, like avocado and wheat germ oil.  Still don’t know the answer to that one.  Unfortunately it takes a little more care to make soap than a batch of cookies.  If you get the fat to lye ration wrong, you either end up with a caustic soap-like product or too much fat-not-bonded-with-lye which will go rancid with time.   I’ll try to remember to post an update.  Here are some tidbits I found interesting during the process:

  • The most expensive ingredient was the essential oil used for scenting the soap
  • The color in the picture is the natural color
  • I need to grease my molds better next time
  • Different oils add different qualities to your soap

The soap needs to cure for 3 weeks so I’ll post results of the quality of the product after we have a chance to try it.   The two obvious flaws are that the bottoms of the soaps are not flat as the mixture was a little too thick when poured and there was some damage to a couple of bars because the molds were not adequately greased.  Next batch should be significantly better.