Today was ‘chicken day’ – 15 weeks or so ago, these 10 birds arrived as day old chicks, supplied by our friends Brian and Becky, as something of an experiment in rearing our own meat.  They have led a happy outdoor existence, foraging, enjoying plenty of space, sitting in trees and generally having a fine time while they could. Today though it was time for us to kill them, and we give many thanks to Brian, and wwoofers Felix and Daniel for their hard work in dispatching, plucking, gutting and cleaning the birds. We now have ten good sized chickens in the freezer, and a collection of odds and ends with which to make a chicken stock.

As novices it took nearly the whole day to get through them all, bringing them up two at a time so as not to stress them unduly, before breaking each bird’s neck.  It is quick, and done with as much respect and humanity as we can possibly provide. Certainly it was a big learning opportunity and know that the meat we are eating is ethically reared and prepared. You really do value meat in your diet when you have seen the animal throughout it’s life and been so closely involved with it’s death.

Now we have a good few weeks before the next group of young chickens reach sufficient weight to cull out the males, keeping the females for egg production. Because they are all  crossbreeds, they are a fair bit smaller than the birds bred specifically for meat, and so take a lot longer to get to that weight.

As the season progresses we are starting to see the benefit of the freezer, as it gradually fills with vegetables, and now our precious meat. The winter stockpiling has begun..