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

18 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You shot the bird! No more chopping heads off while you wrestle with it on the stump?

Comment by Fran

Oh Rachel, I wish I were there. I am LMAO as I type. You are the best, girl, simply the best. You just opened up that book and did it! That’s what we did. I had butchered plenty of chickens as a teenager, but I just did as told by who was in charge, never the whole thing from start to finish, know what I mean? So when we started doing it, I got out my handy dandy book and followed directions. Leave it to a homeschool mom to get it done! I’d cook that rooster on low, slow with plenty of liquids. I think you’re turning into a fine pioneer woman. 🙂 I’ll buy you a drink next week to celebrate.

Comment by Barb

Eat him? Why don’t we baptize him in gasoline, throw him on the bbq and dance around the flames like a bunch of pagans singing, happy days are here again?? Then again, a roasted Aurelio with potatoes and a complimentary salad sure sounds good right about now..

Comment by citygirl'sdaughter

Hey Barb! Can’t wait for that drink! 🙂 So….sounds like you’re thinking he may be a wee bit on the tough side? I don’t know what he is. He could be a gold Orpington. Not much breast meat. All the other roosters look meatier but I was thinking we could turn him into pet food if we screwed up somehow. They’re all obnoxious, so I picked the one that would be the least loss. I think I’ll raise Cornish X’s in the spring now that I know I can do it myself or pay the butcher, whichever I want. I also realized I didn’t know with a dual purpose bird what the best slaughtering age was. I have a feeling all of them are past their prime. We thought they were pretty. *eyes rolling*

Comment by littletoe


Wasn’t sure my knives were sharp enough to just slit his throat and we wanted to make sure he didn’t suffer too much. It worked! I would recommend a .22 pistol at point blank range for next time. Very efficient and not too messy. Certainly better than the axe on the block method from what I hear. Guess it doesn’t matter as long as you get the job done.

Comment by littletoe

You GO girl!! You are SO right…just do it! I don’t think you even needed the book…you are one smart cookie…besides, farmers could only afford two books, the Bible and the Farmers Almanac!! LOL!

Plus, when you think about how mean chickens can be…doesn’t take much to take one out!! LOL!!! I learned that at the tender age of 8!!! It’s easy to kill something that attacks you!! You’ve really earned my respect on this one!! Sounds like you will be mentoring the rest of us before long!!

Comment by Elvira

Oh! BTW, just put it into a pressure cooker…very nice and tender (even if you get a tough old bird)…learned that one from Kelly’s Mama who used to order 200 chicks at a time so she could butcher some. You can do several birds at once. It only takes about 10mins cooking time (once it gets up to pressure) and you don’t have to worry about it’s age!!I finally broke down and got a new pressure cooker (wore out my old one with Mama putting up beans, okra, black eyed peas and beets). I was gonna can those veggies from Daniel’s garden until I realized…I have no root cellar…I’ll have to have Kelly and the boys dig me one out for next yr.! Luckily, I’ve got a big freezer and I’m good at knowing how to freeze keeping things fresh. Here’s another farmers hint…put beans in a can with a lid, put bay leaves in it, no bugs will bother it!!

Comment by Elvira

Sorry, just gross to me. My daughter in law is becoming a vegan. I think I may join her.

Comment by Mary P

i cannot imagine my son taking a gun and killing anything. This is just too much for me to understand.

Comment by Mary P

I think this is great training for Thomas and I admire him for being such a willing student. It never hurts to be able to fend for yourselves, and those days may be here sooner than we think. Our Rebekah slaughtered chickens and turkeys the old-fashioned way (with an axe on the chopping block), birthed lambs, docked and castrated them, etc. I’d love to have her around if ever there were an emergency. She’s capable and not afraid of anything. And after years of “tending the farm” the only thing she’s squeamish about is kids with snotty noses :=)

Comment by Fran

soooo, inquiring minds want to know….how was that bird? tasty or no?
As for Mary not understanding a boy and a gun, well I can’t understand NOT understanding. My boys are all willing participants in the providing of food around here, and they don’t go far on lettuces 🙂 More meat and potatoes are what they ask for at meals, different things for different folks I suppose.

Comment by Barb

Silly me… and I thought that was just a clothes line! 🙂

Comment by Shalimama

I think if I were your pets, I’d be sleepin with one eye open…

Comment by Tim

Our pets are safe. We don’t eat cats and dogs—but I hear they taste like chicken. 😀 It’s the roosters who have something to fear. Raise some and you’ll see what I mean. They were created for the stew pot.

Comment by Rachel

Pets don’t attack like roosters 🙂 something rewarding about protecting little people from evil roosters. My pets are lovely creatures and I’d not eat one unless….well you know.

anyway, just checked in looking for new posts….surely something interesting is happening on the farm? Miss you guys, still too sick to see any friends, sad, sad and boring!!

Comment by Barb

Anyone who had to live with a full grown rooster (more commonly known as the favored spawn of Satan)for more than a week would be happy to acquaint a bullet with it’s brains. (or lack thereof)I gained a new respect for Thomas that day and I couldn’t have been more proud.(but don’t tell him I said that :P)I’d be more than happy to take Thomas’ place the next time.

Comment by citygirl'sdaughter

Kudos to you – I really enjoyed reading your blog entries. Ran accross the URL looking for Simla Foods. We’re in CS, but our family raises meat between CS and Pueblo.

I have a couple suggestions on the chickens… First, we use an axe and stump. The stump has a couple of nails ~0.5″ apart, to hold the chicken’s head. With one hand, you can hold both legs and the wing feathers, leaving the other hand free to put the head ‘tween the nails, and use the axe. Following this, we put the chicken in a 5 gal. bucket, and cover with another 5 gal. bucket. This keeps the mess down, and you don’t have to chase the thing all over.

Other than that, we scald, pluck, singe (to burn off the hair), gut, and chill.

We normally run 70-100 through at a time (split amongst the family(s)).

Best of luck – you might check out the 4H, too.

Comment by Ken

[…] was a little disappointed with how Aurelio tasted.  I had heard such wonderful things about how you could never go back to store-bought […]

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