As you may or may not remember, at the end of our previous Chicken Chronicle I had a very ill, freshly-molested chicken slumped in a cat carrier in the corner of my workshop.
(Now there's a sentence you don't get to type very often.)
As the day wore on, it became obvious that the poor hen was not going to get any better. She needed to be put down. By... someone*.
Now may I take a poll of city-bred folk out there? If you had to kill a chicken today, would you know how to do it? I mean really do it, as in walk out into your back yard, pick up a chicken, and kill it?
Yeah, me neither. I knew from extensive cartoon watching that you can wring the neck, or lay it on a stump and whack the head off with an axe and chase it around the yard. But we lived in the middle of a nice middle-class development. Animal sacrifice in broad daylight would probably not go over will with the HOA. And then there's the whole wringing/whacking/chasing thing. I just didn't see us* doing that.
So, hmmm, how could I learn how one* should humanely and discreetly dispatch a chicken in the privacy of one's not-so-private back yard? To the internets!
(Safety tip: When using Google to search for methods for offing poultry, be very very careful with your search terms.)
I did find one amusing anecdote about a guy who decided to hang the chicken from a tree and whack the head off by pinning it against the trunk with the axe, kinda pinata-style. That apparently did not go so well, ending up like some sort of tetherball game from hell. It seemed prudent to not try that method.
I finally found what seemed to be a reasonable option: you* lay the chicken out and cover the body with a 5-gallon bucket, leaving the head and neck exposed. You hold the bucket down with your foot and cut off the head with one swift stroke of the axe. This leaves the body safely contained under the bucket to contain any unsightly postmortem thrashing about.
Sounds easy enough, right?
I briefed Hubby on what was going to happen**. We decided to wait until cover of darkness and perform the deed under the deck on the concrete pad so as not to alarm the neighbors.
I wish I could tell you that I was out there with him, but I wasn't. My memory fails at that point, but I was probably cowered in a corner at the farthest end of the house, rocking back and forth with my fingers in my ears, wetting myself.
Now, Hubby had hunted some when he was younger and decided that it wasn't his kind of thing. So while he does not share my pathological fear of dead animals, they still aren't his favorite things to play with. He reported that he followed the procedure and all seemed to be going according to plan... until he took his foot off the bucket.
What the interwebs failed to mention is apparently there's a longer-than-expected delay before the postmortem thrashing commences. He did not end up chasing headless chicken around the yard, but it did scare the shit out of him for a moment there.
Originally, the plan was to raise the birds as layers for a year or two then cycle them out into the freezer. That evening, Hubby laid down the law: We were not eating those chickens. He was not going to do that ever, ever again if he could at all help it.
And I could respect that.
Poor Hen ended up double-bagged in the garbage. I wished there had been another way to see her off, but she was too big to flush and we had raccoons regularly patrolling the area.
Good news: I haven't yet exhausted my cache of chicken stories! Aren't you glad? In a future Chicken Chronicle, you will find out what happens when the greyhound catches the white fluffy thing.
* And by that, I mean 'Hubby'.
** And by that, I meant 'what he was going to do'.