Today was slated for chicken harvesting.
In the past, I would get up extra early, clean out the barn, push sleepy family members toward the barn, get grumpy, watch family members get grumpy, then butcher chickens. Today I felt divinely inspired to let Philip and the kids do the preparation work on their own time while I took care of my own chores. I milked the cow, ate a nice breakfast prepared by Philip, read the newspaper, trying to figure out what in the world is going on in Georgia and Russia, made pickles, started some chevre, put up the fromage blanc we made yesterday, skimmed milk, made 3 quarts of cream into butter, and didn't get at all worked up over the late start in the poultry processing department.
By the time everyone was ready, it was time for lunch, so we had some delicious sandwiches with ripe tomatoes and crunchy pickles from a couple of weeks ago. Made another pot of coffee, then off we went.
Our family is not really well designed for farm life. We like late suppers. Late conversations. Late book reading. All of us. Not even any of the kids like to get up at the crack of dawn. But I still feel like if we don't start things really early we are going to get in trouble. I am afraid that some people will think we are slackers if we don't get out and hopping by 6 or so. I remember Grandpa Rowe, up at 5:30, making the coffee, turning on the EARLY news on the teeny tv, clanging around, grumbling about the fact that noone else was getting up yet. We just turned over on our pallets on the floor in the living room and tried to cover the head with pillows!
Everyone was a lot more cheerful today as we headed out to the barn around 1:30. I got loads of chores done and didn't have to feel like grouch.
The last time Philip checked on the chicken plucker it worked just fine. So, the water was hot, the counters disinfected, knives somewhat sharpened and we got to work.
The whizbang chicken plucker didn't whiz or bang. It just slowed to a complete stop when we put the first bird in. Poor Philip. I think he may have wanted to cry at that moment.
It was fun seeing how quickly the kids recovered. They began to pluck by hand and one of them, Maggie, I believe, mentioned that after plucking ducks, hand plucking chickens seemed almost fun! We processed ten chickens, leaving the rest of the 45 or 50 birds to grow a little. So we will have harvest day, take 2, in a week or two. Hand-plucking isn't really all that much fun, when you are dealing with 50 chickens.
Rose skinned out the gizzards. She was getting really good at it by the time we stopped for the day. Patrick was head executioner. Everyone plucked. Thomas carried lots of stuff. Philip worked on plucker machine. Maggie helped eviscerate, and even Patrick learned to eviscerate today. Nora hung out and the kids entertained her by doing funny things with chicken feet. They even painted the toenails of a couple of laying hens. (You do whatever it takes to keep a sleepy 4 year old entertained).
Now I sit and type and take a break. Philip took the rest of the gang for a swim, and we will all fry up some nice fresh chicken for supper. I guess if we get all that oil hot we may as well cook up some gizzards and french fries too. Noone else really likes the gizzards besides me. Good for me! Maybe someone better go check the garden for some okra. I think we have just enough to fry up at least a little taste treat.
I guess we may stay up a little too late. Oh well. I guess you can probably figure out the moral of this story.
PS, we have baby turkeys! They are teeny and look like regular chicks, but with a funny thing on the top of their heads!
PPS, you should see our forest of sunflowers. They are so pretty in the late afternoon. The bees are going crazy over them. The sun has changed and the sky is different. Summer feels like it is winding down. Maybe in a few days it will be 90 degrees and I will eat my words. But now the evenings are cool are mornings are brisk. I love it.
PPPS, we picked our apples yesterday. They are red and delicious, and crunchy and sweet. We will try to store them in the basement so we can continue to eat fresh apples for awhile. I hope they don't rot. The figs are ALMOST ripe. So are the plums. Thank God for so many wonderful things to eat.