Yes, we finally did it. On Monday, after our company had left, we gathered up a big pot, some bleach, a cutting board, good scissors and a knife, and a dull razor blade to rid our hen house of the dreaded Diablo. DH put up a killing cone made of metal sheeting and grabbed our largest fish net. He stood outside the chicken barn standing in wait with net in hand while I went into the barn to shoo out the chickens. "Now!" I shouted as the Barred Rock rooster stepped out of the barn and into the waiting net.
He was big! As DH reached into the net to try to get his feet to grab him to pull him out, one of his treacherously sharp talons got his hand. It was amazing how long and razor sharp his talons were. About 2 inches and sharp as a knife. I tried to take pictures of this whole affair but my camera is not cooperating and may be dead. I tried recharged batteries and all, but it would not turn on. So, I am sorry to say, I have no pictures of this momentous day.
We got him out of the net and upside down into the killing cone. I think he realized he was in for it and a goner. It was difficult pulling his head through the bottom because his comb and wattle were so large. Then DH set about with the razor to cut his throat and bleed him out. This is the preferred method, as you don't want to just lop off their head. Bleeding them out is less painful for them, more humane, and the heart pumps out their blood ensuring good meat to eat. The razor was so dull, it just scraped over his skin again and again. He finally had to pull out his knife and use it.
Next, it was into scalding water at 135 degrees. If it is hotter, the meat tends to toughen up and since he was 2 1/2 years old, we did not want to ruin good meat. Unfortunately, this was not hot enough because when we turned on the chicken plucker, which is a contraption hubby built, it would not pull off the feathers. The plucker is a drum that spins. It has rubber fingers on it that pull off the feathers. All you do is hold the chicken over the fingers while it is spinning and the feathers fly off. Well, at least they fly off when plucking young Cornish Cross chickens, but our older chicken proved to be a tough case. It was not working. Rather than heat the water to a higher temp. we decided to hand pluck. Yuck!
This was tedious and hard to do. The feathers just did not want to come out. Although we managed to get most of them, we decided to go ahead and eviscerate him, then skin him. So I cut into him and I either had the dullest knife and scissors in the world, or he was just tough. The membranes were hard to cut through. I finally got it done and started pulling out all the guts. We could not believe how huge his testicles were! Each was as big as a large egg. No wonder he was all pumped up all the time.
Then it was on to skinning. This was fairly easy and we got him skinned and into ice water with a drop of bleach to chill him quickly. He is in the freezer and my plan is to make Coq au Vin in the near future. I have found I much prefer the ease and quickness of plucking and eviscerating young chickens. It is just so much easier and goes quickly. I think this whole event took us an hour and fifteen minutes for one chicken. In the past, we've butchered 20 chickens in about two hours time. Of course, there was four of us and we just kind of had an assembly line going. We haven't done this in a while and we may have also been a little rusty.
The young Buff Orpington cock is settling in quite nicely and our yellow hen that was serviced to death is laying and her feathers are filling in. It is much more pleasant going out to feed and collect eggs. DH does not carry a golf club, I don't use the lid from the feed bin as a shield, and DD does not run around throwing feed through the screen in the door anymore.