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.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Holy Chicken Fat! All from one big meat!

Wow what a day we had yesterday! I'm intentionally posting at night. I have some hard core farmy stuff to talk about - and at the stroke of midnite I'll post an adorable kitten picture so folks who read in the morning don't puke on their keyboards. Or drop their phones at the horror of it all.

But first a cute picture of our Nicholas - look at those paws!  Last nite he brought me a mouse from under the sink. Thanks Nicholas!

OK by now you should be reading 'below the fold on your computer screen. Now is your opportunity to opt out and tune in later for an adorable kitten picture. Last chance.. tender victuals don't read any further! We're gonna talk about chicken guts! And show pictures! You know I only tell you the truth about farming! Who's with me!?!? Come on Farm Pirates! Who dares to look?

So. What a day yesterday! The rain held off (thank heaven) so we ran right out and whacked the last 2 remaining creepy meats. You'll note its TWO, not three, left over meat chickens from the batch we had earlier in the summer Just two - the third one flopped over dead the other nite. And I mean flopped.

The dog and I heard a terrible flapping in the hen house so we ran right over thinking that marauding wombats or what not got in there... nope.. that 3rd meat went down. Hard. It was horrible. We saw the whole thing. Me and the dog stood there clutching each other and screaming. Then it was over and that huge meat lay there in a heap, belly up. Dead of a heart attack. How awful is that? It just got too big.

Normally at this point I would go and get my husband and tell him to 'get the gloves.'  But I have evening chores alone these days. I could have sent the dog in but I'm pretty sure he'd just help himself to the dead meat. So I had to do it. I'm not even kidding - I could barely lift the thing.

What a waste! We were supposed to dress the last of the meats a couple weeks ago but you know how that goes. So we didn't get around to it. Drat!

So anyway. Then there were two.

But what a haul! Not only is there a ton of meat from them - but we got so much fat from the biggest of the two creepy meats you cant even believe it. I was slack jawed and buggy eyed - actually I was in chicken fat heaven. I'll probably get several CUPS of rendered fat - from just those two meats!

What do I do with the fat? Are you kidding? What don't I do... right now I love using it to fry stuff up. Recoiling from the idea because of all you've heard about fat? Ha - throw everything you've learned about nutrition directly in the trash. Head over to the Weston A Price foundation for a tutorial, or check out Cheeseslave, or go and read Nourishing Traditions. Not your thing? That's fine too.

Each side of those livers were as big as my palm - and just look at all that fat from ONE chicken!!

The biggest meat chicken is as large as a small dressed turkey - its just amazing.  That bird was so big it was.. it was... a... guargantu-HEN! And the livers! The livers were as big as my palm. Honestly I was amazed.

But here's what I really want to show you. We normally don't dress mature hens - our layers are too valuable to just send to the pot... and the creepy meats aren't usually mature when we send them to glory. So imagine my surprise when I found these:

They are EGGS! That's right developing eggs - and some of them were pretty big! As far as I could tell she was not laying yet - but she might have. Can you believe it? I'd heard of this - and some of the old timers say to cook these unlaid eggs with noodles. But I was so amazed that I had to share. I think its a good thing to be aware of, especially if you are new to the home butchering game. I'm telling you, I learn something new every day.

Last nite I made a chicken liver and rosemary tomato pasta sauce - and one liver from the smallest of the two was too much for me to eat in one sitting. Those meats are creepy for sure but wow you get a lot of bang for your buck. Provided they don't flop over dead.

If you've read this far you deserve a tall cold one. Or maybe you should just go directly to shots of vodka. That's OK too.

Tune in soon and we'll have a picture of an adorable kitten to take your mind of the chicken guts.


Carolyn said...

How old were the last of your creepy meats? We waited a little longer than normal one year and butchered the last of the fifty at around eleven or twelve weeks, and there was a LOT of fat on them. Which I really don't mind because we roast our birds and chicken fat = great chicken GRAVY! We've raised Cornish X's for four or five years now and I've only lost one, but to the heat (it was HOTHOTHOT), never to a heart attack or leg problems.

Last year (and this year now) I've been limiting the creepy meat in their eating. I used to put food out 24/7 for the first week, then during daylight hours, but now I only feed them in the morning and evening. As much as I like the chicken gravy, I figure if they have that much fat on them, they are getting too much food & putting it on as fat, not meat. And since feed prices are skyrocketing this year, I figure I have to save money somewhere....even if it's at the cost of yummy gravy.

Why am I thirty pounds overweight??? :)

Thanks for the "real farm" pictures. Not that I'd mind cute kitty pictures though!

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

So where were the guts n gore? Sigh ... I know you've done the hog dressing posts (getting near yet?) Do you have creepy meat dressing posts?

The new cat is cute! Always had a soft spot for tabbys

Big Onion said...

This post was just what I needed first thing in the morning! Haha.

Actually, quite an awesome story. What kind of chickens are you raising, and how old was it? I'm just amazed that it got too big and just keeled over!

And the developing eggs is just ... bizarre.

Hehe. Guargantu-HEN. Awesome. Love your blog. I've been reading for awhile, just never posted. Thanks for the awesomeness this morning. :)

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

I can see those livers fried up with onions and gravy on top of some grits :o) maybe some scrambled eggs too if I had time :o)...chicken fat rendered is valuable..Ye Gads, wish I were younger or already had a farm :o(

Dreaming of Chickens said...

Just curious. If the big creepy meat flopped over dead of a heart attack, and you know it was fresh why not process it? Would it be unsafe to eat? Or just creepy?

Little Rooster Croft said...

I will be doing much the same thing this weekend...meats need to get in the freezer...hmmm need to make some room in the freezer!

Thanks for the pics of the eggs btw, I have boys but if I ever ran into this with a hen (or unknown) I would be like..."uh, what be that?" ;-P

Dave @ HappyAcres said...

My mom told me that when my grandfather worked in a slaughter house he often brought home unlaid eggs from chickens, turkeys, etc. I don't remember what she said they did with them though. I just know they ate them!

I can only imagine the wonderful things you will do with that chicken fat. We bought a big tub o'lard from our favorite farmer a while back and stuck it in the freezer. It does amazing things for food, even in small doses.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Carolyn - can you believe these were from the end of April!! Since we only had a few left they just hung out with the 'regular' chickens - so we didn't mind too much about the feed. Honestly time was just against us - we are on a weird daily schedule now.

That Nourishing Traditions book has a lot to say about how we eat now. All I can tell you is that I tried to eat they way "they" say and it nearly killed me. Now I'm more protein and fat, not so much sugar, and barely any processed food. Worked wonders for me.

Hey Dave! Livers are guts, right? Ha! I'm always afraid I'll share "too much." Hands down the best "how to dress a chicken" is my Harvey Ussery:

I could never do it better.

Hey Big Onion! Thanks for reading - and saying 'hi'! Feel free to pop in anytime. That creepy meat was from April - a Cornish X, thats the fast growing breed of chicken you purchase in the store...and yep.. it just flopped right over (horribly). They are bred to grow out fast - but it too much for their systems. Commercially gown meat chickens are ready in 47 days!!!Can you believe it?

Ginny - I love liver for breakfast. I'm having some country style pate right now on bread that I baked. Delish!

DoC - I thought about it.. and I probably could have taken some of the meat off for the dogs. But really, it was getting dark and I was kinda skeeved out by the whole thing. If only we had dressed them last weekend!

LRC - we've had a few "what the heck is THAT" moments. Good luck on your butcher day!

Samantha said...

Having my coffee and munching down toast and eggs..all I can say is MAN I am jealous!

Diane said...

Just found your blog in the last month or so and love it!

Where did you get your Cornish Xs? We ordered ours from McMurray like most other years but, man, they were horrible this year. They never did get big and almost half of them died before butchering (and not from heart attacks from being too big!). After a couple of times of complaining, they refunded our money but we're out the cost of several weeks of feed. That was stupidly expensive this year!

We had great successes with the Cornish Xs from McMurray in previous years but not so much this year. I think this year has turned us completely off from them. We're going to just build up our laying flock (for egg selling) and that should give us enough culls to fill our freezer.

Anyhoo, beautiful fat there!!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hey Samantha... I'm having chicken liver pate again for breakfast - whoot!

Hey Diane! Oh NO! Sounds like a bad time all around. We get our birds from Meyer Hatchery which is here in Ohio:

Choosing the closest hatchery is usually the best bet - shorter travel time for the chicks.

Another hatchery we really love is Ideal - they have red broilers which are much more 'chicken like' than the Cornish X's. You might want to give them a try:

Thanks for reading and feel free to chime in anytime!

Diane said...

Thanks for the links! There was just something "off" about the entire McMurray order this year. You know after you raise them for so long, you can just tell when things aren't going to go well? Yeah, that. Stupid birds.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Yep, Diane, sometimes you just get a bad batch. But I'm really glad you got your money back.

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