Tuesday, November 6, 2012

HOW TO SLAUGHTER YOUR CHICKEN -- PART ONE


ButterBall's Last Supper

I don't know where to begin.  If you are a little queezy, then you probably shouldn't read this particular blog.  It's okay...i won't be offended.  I will try NOT to be too graphic, but some things need to be explained.  Here is the story.

In Preparation for this momentous occasion.  First, you need to purchase the chicken.  Adam bought our lucious "Butterball" from GreenFireFarms.  Check it out!  They also sell amazing and rare hens.  Second, you must raise the chicken.  Word of caution: Don't name or touch the chicken.  We named our hen "ButterBall" as we knew that would ultimately denote her unblessed but not ungrateful fate.  I believe that I touched her four times in her 100 days with us.  Two times just to see how soft she was; the night prior to the slaughter for a practice run; and finally for her last two minutes of life.

Continuing In Preparation:  It is recommended for the last two weeks of their life, you enclose them in a small coop/area where pretty much all they can do is eat, shit, and sleep.  During these two weeks, you feed her whole cow's milk every day and lots of chicken feed -- in essence, all in the effort to lavish her with grapes and wine like 15th century Medieval European royalty.  Hopefully, at the end of the two weeks, you have fattened the hen up as much as possible.  It kinda-sorta worked.

What We Didn't Expect:  Life always gets in the way.  It just so happens that our pipeline to the city sewerage system decided to back-up and overflow in our backyard not five days prior to our sacrificial event.  For days we had endured smells, gurgles, and other excrement nonsense in fears that we would have to call the plumber.  Finally, we broke down, and with our landlady's permission, they came to our house.  Instinctively, I knew there was something wrong and it could be a much bigger deal.  I was right.  It turns out that we needed a whole new set of pipes.  The plumbers were awesome.  It turned out that we had a great super uber-gay friendly straight plumber who was incredibly intrigued by the idea of the sacrifice.  So much so, in fact, that he asked if he could invite his photographer friend for the sacrifice at 2pm.  Yes, this is my life!!!

Right before the sacrifice, he advised that our landlady would need to come to the house the following day to inspect the situation and make some major decisions with regard to our current sewage debaucle.  Only issue was, we were not certain if she knew we had hens in our backyard, let alone the two amazing and incredible Vinnie and Trixie Van Goat.  Needless to say, we were scared shitless about what might transpire the following day.  More to come...

There are FIVE steps to slaughtering and preparing your chicken:
Step One:  Set Up Your Three Stations: Killing; De-Pluming; and De-Gutting
Step Two:  Slaughter / Sacrifice the Chicken
Step Three:  De-Plume Your Chicken
Step Four:  De-Gut Your Chicken
Step Five:  Prepare Your Chicken for Dinner

Step One:  Set up your three stations:  Your Killing Station; your De-Pluming station; and your De-Gutting station.  The Killing Station consists of a firm chair/seat, a very very sharp knife, some candles (for ambiance), and a couple of plastic trash bags.   For the De-Pluming station, you need strong rope, a tree or strong tree branch, a pot large enough to submerge the entire chicken, and some plastic bags to trash all the feathers.  In the De-Gutting station, make sure you have two very sharp knives, a table/platform (standard height), a roll of paper towels, more plastic trash bags, a flat sheet-pan to de-gut the chicken, and a deeper pan to house the insides you want to keep.

Step Two:  Slaughter / Sacrifice the Chicken
It wasn't that easy, but it wasn't that hard either.  To be honest, I needed to take about two shots of Southern Comfort (with apple juice chasers -- if you haven't tried it, it's incredible!).  Thanks Danielle for your support in that.  I was nervous, I'm not gonna lie.  Even with the alcohol piercing through my veins, I had no idea what to expect.  We had watched an incredible chicken lady do her respectful rendition of a slaughter about ten to fifteen times prior to embarking on our own sacrificial endeavor.  (Click here for that link! -- She's really cooky!)  Anyway...because I was anthropomorphizing our hen so, even speaking about "Butterball" in therapy, we allowed "Butterball" to have one last night of freedom.  Free of the coop.  Freedom to walk the earth.  One more day.  :(

I want to mention that during our practice run the night prior to the elicit affair, as she was in between my knees and I was feeling her carotid artery and massaging it,  I swear there was a moment when she closed her eyes and it was as if she had resigned to die.  She just knew.  Of course that could be me being silly or it could be the intuitive side of me.  Who knows?  Either way, at that moment, I knew it would all be okay.  She was ready.  Was I ready was a-whole-nother situation?  I was shaking when Danielle, our restauranteer friend, handed me Butterball.  (Just an aside, Danielle (and a lovely young lady named Jennifer, own this incredible casual wine bar Vintage Enoteca in West Hollywood, just up the street from our house.  It is absolutely incredible and our neighborhood place.  Check it out.)

My favorite line from the day was when Adam asked me if I wanted to put on shorts.  My response:  "No, I want these to be my slaughter-pants."  And now, they are just that.  It reminds me of my favorite scene from My Cousin Vinny where Joe Pesci asks Marisa Tomei what type of pants he should wear to go huntin'.  Her response is hilarious!  Watch it!  It's one of the all-time funniest lines in a comedy, Ever.

I'll tell it to you straight and fast.  It was quite a scene.  Justin, the plumber was watching, in his plumbing outfit.  Frank, the photographer was there.  I placed Butterball between my knees and squeezed tight.  The tighter the better and the more she calmed down.  Butterball's feet were to the right side of my legs and Danielle was on feet patrol.  Adam was hovered around to help hold her down as she would squrim from time to time.  We quickly gave thanks to the 10,000 chickens we have eaten prior to Butterball and the 20,000 chickens we will consume after her.  I started to massage the area right below her little beak.  Everyone was telling me to take my time, but I just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.

I waited for Butterball to relax a bit (ten seconds or so), and waited for her to close her eyes.  I gently sliced into her as if I was cutting a stubborn piece of meat.  She squirmed a bit.  Be prepared.  Blood started to drain and then started to spurt everywhere, so please make sure you clear an area of about 5' by 5'.  Adam explained to me that as the blood drains, she grows weaker and weaker and basically just goes to sleep.  After about thirty seconds of letting her bleed out, in one three second motion, I quickly snapped her neck back over my thumb and pulled off her head as if I had done it one hundred times before.  Believe me, I wanted to get over it quickly.  And just like that, it was done.  It was messy.

I was fine up until that point.   As her little head lay about two feet away from the rest of her body, still in between my legs, her head was still moving.  Her eyes were opening and closing and her tongue/beak/mouth acted as if she was struggling for air.  Of course she was, I had just ripped off her head from her body.  LOL.  It was in that instant that I went into shock.  It's hard for me to describe.  Not because I don't have the words, but just because it makes me re-live the event over again.  All I have to say is prepare yourself for the spontaneous nerve convulsions to last anywhere from three minutes to about ten minutes.  I kid you not!  In disbelief that she was dead, I kept asking those around me if she were dead.  I was traumatized for a bit.  I just sat there.  Blood covering my hands, my feet, and all around.  I couldn't escape it...and oh yeah, I had just killed a chicken with my bare hands.  This  whole situation can best be described in the photo below.

Things you should know:
1)  Your hands will be covered in blood.
2)  Blood is much brighter than the movies.
3)  Take your time and breathe deeply.
4) Blood is HARD to clean up...as we all know from Dexter.  (Check it out -- the final season!).
5)  Thanks to Ciara for the incredible hen collage...the first picture!!!

To Be Continued...




FINAL THOUGHTS:
1)  By the end of this week, I should be able to give everyone a new available date for my upcoming book, How I Learned to Smile From The Inside?  I cannot wait!!!
2)  As much as I have enjoyed my first week of filing and scanning, hopefully this week, there are some new opportunities on their way.  Thank God!  Thanks, Kristin!
3)  Thanks to Justin, the great Plumber, and Frank Dorosy, for the fabulous shots.
4)  Stay tuned for more about our landlady.  Did she discover we had chickens?  Vinnie & Trixie?  Pigs, Goats, and Chickens, Oh My!
5)  If you understand the quote below, please let me know.  If you are part of the google group, kindly forward me an email directly at sethsantoro@mac.com.  Thanks all!


Sincerely yours,
Seth (a/k/a the Chicken Slayer)



"It is better to be the head of chicken than the rear end of an ox” - Japanese Proverb




A Smile From The Inside Production  :)

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