The hardest, most tedious, and stinkiest part of the harvest was eviscerating the birds. I was really slow, too. I don’t know how Abby got the job done so fast. She was doing easily twice as many as I was. I felt kind of bad about that, too, but I couldn’t seem to speed up.
Anyway, there are numerous websites detailing the process, so I won’t try to duplicate that here. I’ll just share some (graphic) pictures of the process.
Me pulling out the guts. Abby cutting off the feet. (We considered keeping the feet, but decided to toss them this year. Next year, however, I’m going to try to rustle up a customer for the feet – if you’re interested, please let me know!)
Abby pulling out the intestines. Yummy.
Looking at this picture, I understand why my mid back hurt.
We learned a LOT about chicken anatomy. Wally was super interested in the various chicken parts. To be honest, I found it fascinating, as well. Gizzards, hearts, lungs, intestines, gall bladdars, livers. Ovaries, testicles. And inside some birds, we found yolks, and eggs. The hens in my flock were all young hens, and they hadn’t started laying yet. But we did find a few tiny yolks inside some of them. The hens we harvested from Abby’s flock were mostly old hens, in their second or third year, and they hadn’t been laying for MONTHS. So we were fairly surprised to find, inside some of them, rather large egg yolks. And then inside one hen, I found a mostly intact ovaduct, as well as a complete yolk, surrounded by egg white, and a soft shell. Wow.
So this one was getting ready to lay again. Oops.
At the end of the day, we processed nearly 50 birds. And decided to do smaller batches in the future!! We had gotten kind of backed up this fall, with waiting to get the plucker, and then schedules getting in our way. Next year, we will do more harvesting as we go – I’ll definitely harvest roosters as they make themselves apparent, and we’ll probably do my birds and Abby’s birds on different days. Because, phew. Tiring!!
If you’re interested in learning more about how chickens make eggs, this was the best website I could find on the subject. If you want to know more about chicken anatomy, this website has some really good charts.
(The funny end of the story is that Abby’s remaining birds, who haven’t laid a single egg for months, each laid an egg the next day. Apparently, they realized she was serious.)