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is that some bad hat for the giant gnome?

March 29, 2011

,Our friend Lee came barreling down the driveway recently with this in the back of

the F-150:

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”, he exclaimed.  “Outstanding,” I replied, “What is it?”  My first

thought was that it was an ill-designed hat for the giant gnome.  But then I remem-

bered that the giant gnome already sports an ill-designed hat.

Lee set me straight.  “It’s the roof of the new chicken coop.”  He, Jude and I are going

into the poultry business.  We’ll be raising chickens for eggs and meat.  I’ll be the

primary caregiver, Jude will provide comprehensive medical attention, and Lee

will help the meat birds reach their full potential.  I’m not sure if I can help him do

that, given my war experiences.

Mind you, I love chicken deep-fried, stir-fried, broiled, baked, grilled, braised,

rubbed, stuffed, crusted, crock-potted and nuggeted — but I cringe at the thought

of how they get to my home.  I wish that was my most hypocritical behaviour.

Anyway, Lee is a man of many skills.  He already knows a lot about our feathered

friends.  He was tearing down a huge outdoor parrot cage and salvaged the top of it.

That not only keeps it out of the landfill, it reuses materials and helps our budget.

I might be able to help with the plucking, though.  Remember our friend and drive-

way plower Jay?  He told me about a machine that pulls feathers whiz bang.  Check

it out here.  I love it.  It’s low tech and appeals to both my sense of pragmatism and

absurdity.  It’s as silly looking as the roof of our new coop.  I bet Jay or Lee could

make one.

  1. March 29, 2011 9:27 am

    I remember plucking chickens when I was a kid. Stinky business that.

    • March 29, 2011 11:10 am

      The whole enterprise is, as best I recall, Joan. I watched it on my grandparents’ farm when I was five or so. From then one, whenever I heard the saying “running around like a chicken with its head cut off”, I knew exactly what that looked like. Bizarre, brutal and impossible not to watch.

  2. March 29, 2011 1:01 pm

    That chicken plucker contraption is something! And to think you can make it yourself from an old washing machine – nice! You have to wonder, though, if it turns the innards into ground chicken.

    • March 29, 2011 6:42 pm

      It does make one wonder, Coach. We’ll probably have to get a second washing machine to find out. Jude wouldn’t allow our clothes to smell fowl.

  3. Charlotte Wales permalink
    March 29, 2011 4:39 pm

    Allen – remember we lived in the mountains for many, many years – my youngest, Cody was born there, and as a highschooler, one of his jobs was working at an organic chicken plant, where they killed, plucked, gutted, etc. all these wonderful-tasting organic chickens. Now his job was gutting (glad it was him and not me!), but they had a very efficient way of getting the feathers off – -can’t recall what it was, but I’ll pump him for info and let you know, ok? I hated it when he left for college – no more yummy organic chickens, as they had it all pretty well pre-sold in Little Rock. Employees got to get some for their families, but alas, that ended. I think he’s stopping by this evening, so I’ll update you. I think ya’ll will do well; have you also considered rabbits? We had friends who raised them for food, and they are really yummy; and their poop is GREAT for gardening; one of the few manures you can plant straight into and it won’t burn your seeds or plants! I could never raise them, however; too tender-hearted to slaughter Thumper!!

    • March 29, 2011 6:47 pm

      I’d very much appreciate Cody’s advice, Charlotte. Odd that you mentioned rabbits. Jude and I were at a meeting last night (tomorrow’s post subject) and found out a woman there has some rabbits to give away. We are definitely considering it — just the non-Thumpers.

  4. Charlotte Wales permalink
    March 29, 2011 4:42 pm

    Oh my LORD – I just watched that video — too gross! I’m SURE the method they used was not violent like that; I think it involved hot water (could be wrong, never worked there muself!) and it wasn’t really hard. Will let you know asap, ok?

    • March 29, 2011 6:51 pm

      Another video of the same method mentioned that the chicken was scalded. All this is after they’re killed, of course, so the tumbling around may look inglorious but it’s not painful. I hope you have a nice visit with Cody.

  5. March 29, 2011 7:22 pm

    It sure seems like the defeatherer would break every bone the chicken has.. but the legs and wings seemed pretty intact when it came out. Wonder what the meat is like….. ewwww

    • March 29, 2011 9:43 pm

      Beanie, I believe that plans and parts for the whiz bang sell well, so I’m guessing that the final product is fine. However, I will research this and get back to you. I need to know this, too, before we invest in it.

  6. March 31, 2011 11:51 am

    I remember my parents having a huge iron cauldron filled with boiling water. I think they dumped the dead chickens in there to get the feathers off easily. I’m also sure it was after the chickens were already dead!

    • March 31, 2011 4:16 pm

      Our poultry colleague Lee just left. He was aware of the whiz bang, but not keen on it. He said he’d prefer to skin the chickens, which removes the feathers at the same time.

  7. Charlotte Wales permalink
    March 31, 2011 1:25 pm

    Hi, Allen – I checked with Cody last night – he came by after work, so I showed him the video, since he’s the chicken processing expert; his job was gutting, but before they were gutted, they were placed in a stainless steel container that is much like what that video – it had rubber extrusions, etc., and whirled about 6 chickens around at a time. I could hardly watch the video, but I must admit, it DID work well! Cody suggested that before you put them in that “de-featherer”, you should dip them in scalding water; that’s what they did to loosen up the skin/feathers. Good luck, glad it’s you and not me – ha!

    • March 31, 2011 4:26 pm

      Hi, Charlotte. Thank you for Cody’s counsel. There was another You Tube video that I would have preferred to run, but I couldn’t get it to download. In it a fellow says that the bird had been scalded. And his whiz bang worked in about a third the time. I’m starting to have some doubts. Lee says the w.b. is not worth the trouble.

  8. Charlotte Wales permalink
    March 31, 2011 4:46 pm

    If you do raise rabbits, one thing to remember is to keep the males away from the babies – they seem to kill them a lot – jealous, I guess! The cages are mesh-covered wooden frames, and the poop just falls through – easy to collect and put on the garden! I was at my friend Ann’s one day when she was going to fix rabbit for supper; Cody and I were standing there chatting with her as she held a rabbit in one arm, and had a big cresent wrench in her other hand – – all of a sudden – WHAM! – she popped the rabbit on top of its’ head – killed it dead, but it’s eyes popped out of its’ head – freaked me out!! Cody, who was three, never blinked, just looked at the rabbit and said “Rabbit’s gone night-night”. Talk about understatement!

    • March 31, 2011 5:39 pm

      I’m not sure it’s even wise to have the does around kits that aren’t theirs. I had a female French lop-eared (beautiful animal, crappy pet) once. I put a kit in the cage with it. She growled, grabbed the kit by the neck and shook it fiercely. Fur was flying. I got the little one away in time, though.

  9. Charlotte Wales permalink
    March 31, 2011 5:44 pm

    You’re right, Allen – all of my friends’ rabbits were in separate cages – they built a long line of cages, connected, but separated by wire mesh – the female bunnies will sometimes attack babies that aren’t theirs, too! You’d never think rabbits could be so vicious, eh? But, they sure do TASTE good!


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