Sunday, August 2, 2009

Thank you, Tilly (or how to kill your pet chicken)

First, a warning. This post is about killing a chicken. So if you are a PETA member or especially squeamish, or just totally not into things like this, I urge you to read another blog today (I really like Decorno and Petunia Face and can pretty much promise they won't write about killing stuff) and to come back later when I will get back to less bloody topics, like buying shoes and overhearing my kids saying cute things.

Still with me? Ok.

After finally coming to terms with Tilly's Y chromosome, and hearing him crow, we knew we had to get rid of him (roosters are not allowed in the city and even though some of our neighbors are jerks, we didn't want our errant chicken waking them up at 6am on a Sunday).

We had always kind of joked about slaughtering him if he turned out to be a he, but in my heart of hearts I didn't really think we were made of such stuff (we're made of stuff like carnitas burritos and blended Italian reds).

But, when we called Animal Care & Control we found out that they would just euthanize him and then throw him away. Such a waste. So undignified.

There was the possibility of finding him a nice farm were he could live out his chicken days crowing to his little heart's content. Except that we had to get rid of him that day, before another day dawned and he began his macho morning crowing again.

Plus, we sort of like the whole righteous farmer act. We like the idea of being all butch about things like chickens. We aspire to be totally 4H.

So we opted for killing him and eating him.

First, I went to the gym with the kids.

Then The Mister's two best pals Chris and Mark came over.

When I got home, two hours later, Tilly was dead and plucked and sitting in a pot in our fridge looking for all the world like something you would cook and eat.

Here's what happened while I was gone. The Mister is the one holding the video camera and tittering nervously.

How did three citified pansies know what to do? They consulted our poultry bible, The Joy of Keeping Chickens. How did they come up with that ingenious head-through-the-pot contraption? Sarah Palin's turkey pardoning videos on YouTube. She's finally good for something other than Tina Fey's career.

In the end I find it difficult to watch but ok. It seems respectful and dignified. It's still taking a life and there is something that is weird to me there. But I am a meat eater so I can't get too prissy about it.

So, what do you think? Worse than you thought? Easier? And, more importantly, could you eat him? We are having people over for pozole on Wednesday. No joke.


MirandaJ said...

there is no way that i am watching that video.
but congratulations. i don't know if i could have done it.

but i wouldn't be mad about it if you brought me a bowl of pozole on thursday.

Petunia Face said...

Oh no! I was just about to post a video I made of myself killing a chicken this weekend! Guess I won't now based on your recommendation of my blog :)

CSchoech said...

Started the video but once I figured out that was his head sticking out of that pot, I stopped it! Quickly. If it was up to me to kill my own food, I'd starve. But I wouldn't turn down an invitation to eat the former Tilly.

Nancy and Ross said...

Like I think I told you, the worst tasting chicken I ever ate was one I saw beheaded who then ran around for what seemed like ages. Tilly I could eat with gratitude, for his life and the guys who dispatched him with a good measure of aplomb, albeit some uncertainty mixed in... Looking forward to the Pozole!


Jess said...

If it makes you feel any better Sarah Palin's turkey slaughter is probably the fastest and most humane way to do it. Killing your dinner be it chicken, a deer, a cow, whatever, is absolutely a solemn occasion and we owe it to the animal to treat them as well as possible. Frankly, I'd much rather eat an animal that I knew had led a happy life and had a quick, relatively trauma-free death than a factory chicken from Tyson farms. Folks, you don't even want to know how those poor things are treated (and how they suffer all their days, but especially at the end). If you knew, you'd never eat another one again.

Better karma and better eatin' to do it like you guys did. Kudos for going there, and sharing it with folks who may not have ever done this (or even thought about doing it). Meat is not a product that magically appears cellophane wrapped on a Styrofoam tray.

Kalin said...

As an animal lover (and mostly vegetarian), I was surprised at how fast and non-gory the Tilly's death was. I can certainly appreciate killing your own animals as you know that they lived well before hand and aren't mistreated at their death. I still don't think I could stomach doing it myself because I would view the chicken as a pet.

Anonymous said...

Was Tilly put to sleep before the "execution?" I heard that hanging a chicken upside down lulls them to sleep, and then it's an easy matter to get them into the killing cone. If Tilly was asleep, well, even better.

I'm not sure I could do this myself, but am pretty impressed with how non-gory and almost peaceful this seemed...

Katie said...

Wow. Good for you guys! It takes a lot of guts to do this, take a video, and post it. I am impressed. And yes, the respect of all involved is evident in the video.

Anonymous said...

I’m an expat American city boy living in rural New Zealand, and I just had my first chicken killing lesson. It wasn’t pretty. I always thought chickens were supposed to run around after getting their heads chopped off. Ours didn’t do that. It did back flips. No joke. Horrible!

knitbot said...

Very brave of these guys. Obviously they are humane folks and it wasn't all that easy for them, but I think they did it right.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Tilly must have been alive for a few minutes as he bled out... o_o;

I'm happy people are starting to think of food as work and that it's not spontaneously in the grocery store ready to be bought, but I wish we could figure out a way to kill them without extended 'awake' spells... The chopping off of the head seems to kill them straight off, but I've never used a killing cone, so it LOOKS more traumatic with the bird flapping the wings all over. Still, he's dead once he's beheaded, so it's easier for me to deal with. Nothing like fresh chicken you know had a good life and died respectfully though.

The pot is a good impromptu cone if I do say so myself. :)

Amy @ said...

Holyshit. We got got rid of our rooster last weekend, but we sent him back to Chicken Farmer Man we got him from. Good for you guys!

spacey jc said...

I ran into your blog while looking up chicken info online. I watched your video....reluctantly, but out of what I felt like was necessity. I am getting chickens for the first time in a few weeks. I too live in the city and cannot have roosters. While I hope all goes well and I only end up with hens, I know that sexing chicks in difficult and hatcheries make mistakes. I also know that at some point in the life of my chickens making the hard decision to send them to the great coop in the sky is inevitable. This is not something I look forward to, but I also know it is something farmers have been doing for eons. Thanks for posting this a strange kind of way, it helped me feel more prepared to face the same possible outcome.

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