Saturday was a busy day. Renaissance Man and Music Man left the house at 5:30am to go help at “The Allure of the Automobile” at the Portland Art Museum. Then they rushed back so we (R Man and I) could go help our friends, the Meyers, with their chicken harvest. I’m calling it an ‘Harvista’ (pronounced har-vee-stah). Sounds more fun, huh?
And actually, it kind of was. It was not the horrifying experience I had sort of prepared myself for.
Chez Misty and her wonderful husband joined us on the Chicken Farm, so we could see the set up and learn some more about harvista-ing. I know. There I go again. Making up new words. Thanks for loving me anyway.
Here’s our lovely host, Stephanie. She’s been harvista-ing for the past 3 years. This is her largest Harvista. 70 birds.
Here are her beautiful birds. Wow. They were amazing. Nothing compared to our ugly duckling Cornish Cross. These beauties are called Red Rangers. A meat bird, but with long legs and internal organs that can handle the weight. I couldn’t believe how active these poultry were. Not like our birds that walk a few steps and then lay down. Stephanie and her family have had these birds for the last 14 weeks. Our birds will live a happy 6-8 weeks. Big difference, huh?
By the way, Stephanie served up some chicken for sandwiches and it was so delicious. It was a perfect pairing with the chevre I brought along to share. Oh, yes. Lunch was delectable.
My partner in crime, Chez Misty. We’re standing next to the ‘scalder’. You see, if you want to get all those feathers off the bird, you first dunk it into scalding hot water for a minute or so. This one is a wood burning scalder. See the little compartment below the pot? That’s where the men loaded her up with wood and kept the water hot.
And then after the bird gets its little bath, you plop it into this bad boy…the Whizbang Plucker. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I just made that up. I am sad to say, I did not. That is it’s actual name. Our other friends, the Fabulous Whitlocks, built this one themselves and allowed the Meyers to borrow it.
The bathed fowl is taken for a quick whirl around the Whizbang and out comes a hairless creature. Okay, it’s really featherless, but that just doesn’t sound as dramatic. You can’t see it very well, but those are feathers lying around on the ground.
If you dare, here’s a video showing how efficient this Whizbang Plucker is. Amazing.
And this is what you get. Oh, just so you know, this Micah. We just met. This was his first time at an Harvista. Initially, he was a bit reserved about helping out, but then he really got into it.
I wasn’t sure how much graphic detail you could handle, dear reader, so I chose to not show you one fine bird’s guts. Are you grateful? But here is Micah working like a pro getting the job done. It’s actually not that difficult, once you get that initial learning bird done. That first bird took each of us students the longest. But after that, we were each ready get into the Harvista with gusto. I lost count, but I think I helped process 5 birds. We had to leave just at the time when I felt like I was getting efficient.
Yes, a redundant picture, but I wanted you to see the set up. Behind us next to Micah is a old counter top with sink that is set up with water from the family’s hose. Beside that is a stainless steel table where we did the eviscerating. I just learned that word in my “Pastured Poultry Profits” book by Joel Salatin. It means, remove all the unwanted parts of the bird. I’ll spare you the details.
Tied to the table was a patio umbrella to keep our work area cool. On the other side of the eviscerating table was a garbage can for all those unwanted parts. And then finally, we had multiple coolers filled with ice. One was for the newly naked whizbanged bird. One was for the eviscerated bird. And the other was for the extra ‘parts’ (feet, heart, liver and gizzard).
What I am not showing you is the killing cones. Ah, I figured, you probably didn’t want to see that. But then again maybe you do. Hmmm. Okay, I’ll tell you what. I’ll put that as the last picture at the end of this blog entry. If you don’t what to see it. Stop after this next picture and then DO NOT SCROLL DOWN!
You may be asking yourself. Where’s Renaissance Man? What did he do? He caught some chickens, observed the killing, scalding and plucking and then hung out with this young man. This is Isaiah. He’s Micah’s son. And let me tell you, this little man was full of questions. He was so interested in the day’s events, that he stood right by the eviscerating table watching us work. But at this point in time he was taking a break and recounting the events back to R Man. I love my man.
So, now is the time look away. Don’t scroll down any more if you think you might not like to see the killing cones.
Oh, you were so brave. See, not too bad. It really was pretty bloodless.