Behind our barn we had a little white building. Every June we would take a day and clean it up nicely and take numerous wheelbarrow loads of wood shavings and spread them over the floor. We would check our kerosene heaters to make sure they worked properly and once everything was ready we would wait impatiently for the mailman to deliver several packages.
A few days later he would drive into the lane. As Mom or Daddy went out to see what he wanted we children would watch hopefully. As several large boxes appeared we could hear the noise of a hundred baby chicks peeping.
As the mailman left we would all hurry to the building we had readied for the chicks. We children would crowd around the boxes as Daddy and Mom opened them and helped them carefully lift the chicks and place them beside the feeders that had been filled with baby chick food. I loved baby chicks, they felt so soft and fluffy and watching a hundred of them run over the floor and eat their feed and drink their water made me wish I could stay with them all day.
Daddy would check the thermometer to make sure it was almost ninety degrees and then herd us back outside. As we resumed our work and play I looked forward to chore-time when I could once again hold a few chicks. It didn't take them long to lose their cute yellow fluffiness and turn into awkward chicks half fluffy and half feathered and as they grew so did their appetite. It was John and my job to keep their water cans filled and they had to be checked every few hours. As they grew to fully white feathered broilers I looked forward to the day when I could do something other than tote water for the ever increasingly thirsty broilers.
Between eight and ten weeks they were full grown and a butchering day was planned. Aunt Emma would come to help Mom do the butchering. I never could watch Daddy take them one by one to the chopping block, but once that part was over John, David and I would have to defeather them and take them inside to Mom and Emma where they would hurry and butcher them before we brought another batch in.
It was a long day but at the end when row after row of jars of chicken meat were lined up on the shelves in the basement I looked forward to many good meals. There is nothing quite as good as homegrown chicken meat.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Posted by A Joyful Chaos at 7:30 PM
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Oh dear...as a vegetarian, I don't think I could have stood the broiler ritual...prolly would have fainted...you're made of stouter fiber!ReplyDelete
Awww I love lil baby chicks too, this story brought back some memories for me, when I was a kid I too had to defeather chickens in very very hot boiling water after my dad and uncles gathered and rung the poor chickens necks.ReplyDelete
I was a city girl who married a farm boy. Let me tell you, my eyes were opened wide that first year! Now, I have lived the farm life for 32 years and love it. I am so blessed to have been able to raise my children on a farm.ReplyDelete
thanks for your wonderful story, a memory of hard work, but a life story of what made you, you.
JARS of chicken meat?? I tell you, I learn something new from you every day. I've never had a jar of chicken before. My dad saw chickens getting butchered when he was little and would never eat chicken after that. My mom didn't like chicken so if you can actually believe it, I never ate chicken growing up until I got married and moved out - unless it was in fake nugget form from McSomewhere. I know, crazy!! ♥ReplyDelete
I LOVED that day in the spring when we went to pick up baby chicks. I played with them and held them and found the one or two odd-colored ones to call my pets. What fun.ReplyDelete
I confess I loved chicken butchering day.ReplyDelete
Nothin' better than farm raised chickens. Last summer we butched our own chickens, then the next weekend went and helped my aunt do hers. I admit I agree about the actual "chopping block" thing, that's my husband's job. But once that is done, I can dunk and pluck and gut with the best of them. Once you get used to farm raised, the store bought chickens are tasteless and SLIMY :)!ReplyDelete
Ooo, ya! I'm with Katie!ReplyDelete
I love stories of children working. So few do. I'm given a hard time on occassion because my girls work on our farm. As of yet nobody has given me the pitfalls of such a life and it seems to be proving, building character!
I know a teenage girl who raises her own organic free-range chickens for their eggs and meat. She makes a good business of it and does the butchering herself-with a few extra hands to help out with the vast quantity of chickens she has.ReplyDelete
My family raised chickens when I was younger but we never ate one of our own. I'd watch my dad as he'd have to cull a sick one, but that was about it. Other than watching him butcher a wild turkey he got just before Thanksgiving one year, my poultry butchering experience is rather limited.
What a great memory. My girls always love the baby chicks and think that we need one at home. It is hard to convince them that they don't belong in a house, in town and they are not pets. :-) Thanks for sharing your memories.ReplyDelete
Were the chicken feathers kept to make pillows?ReplyDelete
I remember watching my grandma butchering chickens when I was a girl. Now we are thinking about getting some good layers this spring. I've picked out Rhode Island Reds, Buff Rocks, White Rocks, and Black Australorps. Oh and some Araucanas for the colored eggs. :) We might get a few exotic chickens for showing at the fair, but still not sure about that yet.ReplyDelete
Our entire family is being enlightened by your blog! Thanks for being so willing to share...ReplyDelete
Blessings to you~
Loved your story. Just last month I put up 108 pints of chicken. It is so yummy. Next week my 50 baby rhoade island reds will come in and I will raise them up for eggs. I love the country life.ReplyDelete
So TRUE-nothing tastes like that. I only buy chicken directly from a farmer because I'm so picky about the taste. Sometimes that means we don't eat a lot of chicken.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing with us. I am looking forward to getting some peeps this spring for eggs!ReplyDelete
I've canned beef before, but never chicken. I might just have to try that.
Canning chickens?? I am curious, does that mean they are cooked??ReplyDelete
Yes, why not, the french are always canning duck (duck confit), I'm sure this is excellent. Wonder what kind of goodies you are going to make with it.ReplyDelete
Oh, how when G'ma would butcher a chicken I would cry horribly ... it was not a pretty sight. I was always grateful I was allergic to the feathers as I didn't have to help do anything with those poor little creatures bodies ... it is still hard for me to eat chicken without those memories smacking me right up front.ReplyDelete
TY for sharing your memories.
Have a beautiful day ~
Your experience with baby chicks is much like my own except it took our chicks much longer to mature.ReplyDelete
I couldn't watch the killing either but had to pluck them.
I loved reading your stories of growing up Amish...esp. this one. I've always wanted chickens esp. egg laying hens. Maybe someday! Hope you'll come see my blog at www.zen-mama.comReplyDelete
Happy Friday Follow.
Happy Friday Follow! I am a new follower! Great blog by the way! :)ReplyDelete