I Kill What I Eat

This year, for a change of pace, we raised heritage breed chickens, instead of Cornish Crosses, for meat. To be honest, it was my inherent - shall we say - frugality that led to this decision. I'm cheap, and there was an ad on craigslist for 85-cent cockerels, so I did a little research and we decided to give a shot to raising more natural chickens instead of those fat hybrid freaks. 
Turned out they were Australorps, and they were hell-in-a-chicken-tractor to raise. Sure, they were less prone to suddenly dropping dead than the Cornish Crosses seem to be, but they were so...birdy. They seemed unhappy to be confined in their pen, despite our moving it to a new pasture every morning. This dissatisfaction was manifested in their attempts to escape by flying away every time we opened the pen, and quite a bit of chicken-on-chicken violence. Plus, you have to raise them for 12 to 16 weeks before they are ready to go. By 12 weeks, we were pretty sick of them.

In previous years, we have dropped off our live birds at a local farm in the morning and picked them up in the afternoon, ready for the freezer. This year, in the spirit of doing things differently, I found a flyer at Agway for a different farm, one that offered a discount if I would help process the birds. Last Saturday, I learned how to process chickens.

I was nervous, because I had never killed anything besides bugs and unlucky animals that wouldn't get out of my car's way. I wasn't sure I could do it, and this is something I've felt kind of guilty about for a few years now, but I was able to rationalize that I don't have to kill stuff if I don't want to, that maybe my part is just to give animals a satisfying, happy life before they become my food. Still, I felt like avoiding this part of the process was kind of irresponsible or something. That being said, this is where the vegetarians and the squeamish should probably stop reading.