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The Great Chicken Massacre

The Great Chicken Massacre

… and how I taught myself how to butcher on the spot.


Let me just say that everything ALWAYS happens when Drew is gone. It’s Murphy’s Law.

Pipes burst. Winter freezes. Losing heat. Animals get injured. Wiring short circuits. Cars break down. The list goes on and on and always, always Drew is on the road. It’s left me in some tough predicaments and this one is no exception.

We had a flock of 15 chickens and four turkeys in our bird pens. We had breeding stock and some rather rare and expensive chickens I planned on hatching out and selling (American Bresse). 

We also have bird dogs. I am sure you can see where this is going. Drew is an avid hunter and we have Labrador retrievers for his dove and quail hunting.

I don’t exactly know what happened, but perhaps during morning chores and feeding, the gate that I latched didn’t latch all the way. Mabel Mae, aka the “Juggernut” or “Chonk Chonk”, is a big girl, especially as only a 2 year old lab pup. She is sturdy at 90 lbs. And what I concluded happened is that she jumped on the gate and it swung wide open.

I was inside the house doing whatever needed to be done and had no recollection that during the late morning hours that both Mabel and Peanut (Peanut is a lab who comes from grand champion bloodlines) were murdering our entire flock of birds!

Normally the dogs are out. It wasn’t unusual to me that I hadn’t seen them for an hour or so. We have a big farm and the dogs know their boundaries and they don’t stray, but they do like to play and explore. If I recall correctly, I think I looked out the kitchen window and saw Mabel in the front yard bringing me a bird… My heart sank. I knew. I immediately threw on whatever shoes I had laying by the front door and ran through the yard down to the pen.

Just as I suspected. Carnage. Carcasses everywhere. It was a war zone. It has become known as “The Great Chicken Massacre!”

Carnage!! The Great Chicken Massacre

Most were deceased. There were a few unfortunate souls that were injured beyond repair and we do not allow suffering on this farm so for the first time, very unexpectedly, I had to kill a chicken and two turkeys all by myself.

Now my suburban girl mind has grown up a lot since moving to the farm. I knew I didn’t want these birds to die in vain. And I did not want their meat to go to waste. I knew that the kills were fresh, the bodies were still warm. So not only did I have to face my fears of ending these suffering birds life as humanely as possible, I also had to harvest the meat.

Never mind that my avid hunter of a husband can clean a dove in less than ten seconds flat, or cleans turkeys every year in the spring, because he was gone. Not only that, but he was flying so I couldn’t call him and ask him what to do!

So one by one I brought the bodies into my kitchen sink, I propped my phone up on the dish soap dispenser, and I watched a YouTube video on how to process chickens.

Yes, I really did.

It was mid afternoon and I had to be somewhere that evening and instead of getting ready, I was learning how to clean birds and salvage the meat my dogs killed so proudly.

That weekend I also taught myself how to can meat for the first time. I canned all of the chicken and turkey and let me tell you, it is some of the most tender and tastiest meat I have had.

We tend to go ALL IN when we do things around here. Some of it is not by choice. I just tend to not have enough time to stop and think about how intimidating something is before I do them.

Even though I’m sad this happened, I’m glad The Great Chicken Massacre taught me how to kill a suffering animal humanely, process and clean the meat, and can the meat so that it could be enjoyed at a later time.


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