Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Creepy Meats - YES you can! Interview with Insurgent Chickens

Last nite we had creepy meat fried up in a pan and wow was it good! Every time I get a big plate of home grown chicken I'm totally amazed at the quality - and the quantity. The weather has finally cooled off and we'll be getting to the rest of our meat chickens this week but I just had to give another shout out to J over at Insurgent Chickens. J is a regular guy and he took on the challenge of raising dinner chickens and butchering them himself.

I know some of you might be thinking to yourself, "No way! I could never do that." But I'm here with J to tell you, YES you can! To a person, the folks I know who have done this have said they would definitely do it again. You know how thrilled you are when you get your first ripe tomato? That's the kind of feeling you get when you strap on your boots, march out there, and dress those chickens. And its hard to describe the feeling of satisfaction while standing in front of a freezer full of meat you put there yourself. One of my pals said, "Don't you feel rich!?" Yep.

I first met J a couple months ago when he sent me an email (ohiofarmg a T  gmail _dot com) and asked for some advice about his batch of creepy meats.  Of course I had to check back in when he posted his chicken harvest. They did a great job! I was especially happy to see his kids were involved.

So I asked J to tell me a bit about his experience and his thoughts. Mostly I want to share this with reluctant folks so they can build up their confidence. Remember, there is nothing special and my husband and I - we are regular people who just decided to do this farming thing. If we can do it - and J can do it - so can you.

OFG: J,  Did you have any farming/hunting experience before you did this?
J: I grew up in the city, with a short stint of living on a boat with my dad. However, I ran around with friends that lived on farms. One friend's dad managed a large dairy and we enjoyed hunting coyotes and ducks. My only real farming experience started when my family received a GRuB kitchen garden-three 4 by 8 raised beds. They helped us set up the garden, supplied us with seeds, and set us off. Their gift to us inspired me to think more about my families food and empowered us to just jump in and do it. 
OFG:  Aside from the logistics, what did you learn about about "making your own food?
J:  I was reading a blog where the author stated that only trained professionals should butcher chickens (paraphrased), and it made made me sort of mad. Humans have been gathering and processing their own food from the beginning. What made me upset was how easy it is to think that someone else should be responsible for our food. The process of caring for, tending to, and butchering my own chickens was an act of living. It might sound lofty, but I talked to more of my neighbors, enjoyed more time with my family, and in the end got a freezer full of meat.
OFG: What did the kids think?
J:  The kids did great and they were a huge help in raising them. I asked them for some quotes about the whole process:
Our three year old, "I wanted to eat one. They were so great raising them. I tried to make them happy. I was feeling really sad."
Our seven year old, "Pretty good. It was sad seeing them dead. They were fun creatures. First you have to raise um, then they grow bigger, then you have to kill um, it is really sad. Then you get to eat um, it is really fun. I would do it again."
We continue to talk about the way life needs life to live. 
OFG: What is your best advice for someone who is hesitant to do this?
J: Top three ideas for hesitant pre-chicken raisers
1. Be neighborly (I live in the city and it wasn't exactly legal. Burning bridges is never wise.)
2. Read blogs and watch YouTube videos (I "learned" how to do this by asking a lot of questions and relying on those who are a bit farther down the road)
3. Just do it. (Sorry Nike, but urban farmer folks need to just jump in and figure it out.)

OFG: Thanks J, for sharing and again - you did a great job! I also loved that J had a list of things he'd do differently next time. 

And I think it goes without saying that his seven year old is going to be next intern! What a great kid!

So what do you think, are you ready? One of the great thrills in life is finding out what you can do. Can you make your own meat? YES you can!

Happy Monday everyone!


becky3086 said...

This is my second year raising meat birds. We butchered chickens when I was a kid so it never occurred to me that there were processors to do it so I just butcher my own. My suggestion to people who are just starting is to not get too many at once also if you can afford a plucker, get one! I wish I could afford one.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Those chickens looked good and I bet they were delicious..calling them "creepy meats" almost doesn't fit any more :o)

Unknown said...

Woot! That's a great encouraging post OFG and Mr. Insurgent Chickens. Hubby and I processed ours this weekend and it was great! If we can do it anyone can. It's the best feeling to finish up and see a huge pile of meat -that you raised- chillin' in your fridge. We are already planning our fall batch. And I enjoyed watching those 'creepy meaties' everyday. They are pretty funny. Just do it and take back control of your food!

Mr. H. said...

Excellent interview and good for J.

Terrie said...

Just discovered your blog. Love it! My hubby and I "farm" in the city, so we are limited to cats, bees, and (illegal) chickens. We processed the last of our spring meat chickens Saturday morning. We've just discovered Heritage Whites. They are a little lower on the creep scale!
I have to go read the your old blog entries now...

Jonathan said...

Thanks for the questions and comments. The greater community really helped the whole process go off with out a hitch.

@becky3086 the plucker was rented from our local Conservation District. It is cool thing that makes the plucking soooo much easier. I wonder if other local orgs have scalders and pluckers?

It really feels right to raise your own animals...even in the city:)

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Great tip, becky - I think it would be easy to get overwhelmed. We like to do our butchering in "lots" - a reasonable number at a time.

Hi Ginny - how about DELICIOUS creepy meats? hee hee hee

Take back control of your food is right! Great work on your birds.

Hi Mr. H! Isn't it great what a little "get up and go" can do?

Hi Terrie! I'll definitely check out the Heritage Whites.

And of course, J (aka Me) - thanks so much for sharing your experience.

Summersweet Farm said...

I'm glad you posted this. I've been thinking I ought to do a similar blog post of my own, but I've held off because I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it yet. In the end, my helper friend had to do most of the killing. We both plucked, and I did the dressing. I can't remember, but I think 10 birds took us 3-4 hours. Perhaps it was being so tired that made me kind of disgusted with it by the end; maybe if I had a plucker and could do it all in an hour it wouldn't be so bad. Something to think about. I made coq au vin yesterday and MAN was it delicious! But I'm still not 100% sure I'll do it again. Unfortunately, some of my layers are getting old... but they all have names! :( What do you do with your named birds?

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