Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chicken Days (Or the End of Days)

 Butchering Chickens. Yes, that's what we spent the day doing in the sweltering heat which went well above 30 again today. Well not the whole day because of course we had church this morning. But we met with our chicken guy Tim at 3pm and he quickly got set up. 2 big tanks of cold water for cooling the finished birds, a burner and pot for heating water to dip the birds prior to plucking (it loosens the feathers), a plucker and his work table. He did a good job and was pleasant to hang out with.The finished birds are clean and bagged ready for the freezer. Here's some of the equipment he brought with him. 2 barrels which were very clean inside, for filling with cold water and placing the cleaned chickens in to cool quickly. I promise, there are no graphic pics to follow. All the chickens had a good life outdoors until moments before they died and are now resting comfortably.

 This nifty little device turns and the black rubber 'fingers' pluck the feathers out of a scalded chicken in a minute or so. A very great labour saving device and this one just plugs in to an electrical cord.

This is Tim being thoughtful.  Or taking a rest after doing all out chickens, we're not sure which.  It's hard work in such hot weather! His contact info is listed below, just say Elizabeth Faires sent you and that you were reading the blog.

 These are our 8-9 week old chickens


 And these are some chickens...3 roosters we culled,


Here's My faithful assistants (aka. chicken wranglers) waiting for their turn to get to work, Pete our friend who is letting us use his yard and of course Stephen my husband in the blue shirt. The process is quite quick. The chicken is killed quickly and then left to bleed out for a minute or two. It's dunked into hot water to loosen the feathers and then plucked using the plucking machine.It could also be done by hand. After that it's cleaned and trimmed and put into a big barrel of cold water to cool down. Then it's bagged up and ready for the freezer! Easy! Well Tim makes it look easy. He charges $3.50 per bird and does all the work. He'll take care of all the killing we need from lambs, to cows and pigs at what we think are good prices. And he's conscientious. He keeps a clean work area (not that you can tell from the pics) and gave us some nice table ready chickens. I'll add his contact details later on as I know he'd appreciate the business. In the end we had 14 meat birds, 3 roosters, and  nice pile of feathers and left over bits for the compost pile.

 Chris was helping out with the bees in the early evening. Well, actually he was hanging out learning to tell the difference between grubs, workers and drones and he's brave, not at all afraid of bees. We had some of our comb collapse last week, I don't know if it's the heat or what. But Steve salvaged what he could and let the bees clean up most of the mess. However it looks like we'll be having a new queen as there are lots of queen cells all of a sudden so we wondered if she was a squashing victim when a comb collapsed. Either way, it looks like the bees are happily re-queening their hive. We took advantage of this and removed 4 frames of brood and honey to make our own nuc and start a new hive. The parent hive is building up nicely and with so many queen cells I'm sure they'll have a new queen up and running in no time, and removing this nuc should stop them getting any ideas about swarming too. Here's a beautiful piece of natural comb our bees made this week and it's already being filled with capped brood and honey. The beeshere in town certainly seem to be doing well and storing lots of honey while still increasing their numbers.
I'm hoping that is we get some rain this week the weeds and grass will all flower and we'll have some more happy bees. My friends Sarah, Russ and Gail said I can put a hive out at their lake side cottage so maybe that's a good place for this new hive. Steve better get building, or I'll make a Warre hive this week.

Here's the Info for butchering:

Tim's Mobile Butchering 902 765-4016

He serves a large part of the Annapolis Valley and does poultry, game and livestock. All you have to do is take your sides to your favourite butcher for cutting.

FYI, Chickens are $3.50 each complete and he'll charge $1 for cutting a whole chicken up into parts.Now that we have a much better idea what we're doing we might do our own butchering in the fall.


  1. So you don't butcher any of your animals yourselves then? Limey did 18 out of 27 chickens yesterday. He did it in the early morning while it was still cool. The remaining 9 could do with another week of feed.

    1. We're still learning so yes, we're going to do another batch of chickens this year and attempt to kill and clean them ourselves. We've done turkeys out of necessity but not chickens. This gave us a good opportunity to get to know Tim and to decide if we'll use him for our larger projects like cows and pigs too. We can't butcher them as we don't have a .22 Hope things are going well for you guys down the valley this year.