Day One: steps one through infinity

Explain that when we say "dressing chickens" it involves neither painting toenails nor cute hats.

Get calves started eating and set up tubs in the garage since it is
FREAKING COLD!!! (Chicken guts and feathers plus a garage full of stuff
that has been moved, but not ‘moved in’… gross.)

Find out that our old (like in use fifty years before now) washtubs leak.  Find alternatives.

Finish rest of chores, set up scalding area.  Put water on to boil.

Other participants arrive.  Dispatch first six chickens. 

Explain "what that red stuff is" and "why they are still flapping" and "does it hurt"

Laugh at youngest son who, far from being concerned with any of those
things, thinks the headless chicken doing somersaults across the yard
is stinking hilarious and is chortling accordingly.

Begin scalding/plucking process.  Get tips from experienced oldest present sister and pass said tips down to child helpers.

Set up singeing station.  (This removes hairy feathers and helps you find pinfeathers during cleaning.)

Have trouble lighting the alcohol.  No, really.  It wouldn’t light. 

Try again, fail, try again, fail, try again, fail… decide that the
alcohol is impossible.  Stop entire process to wait for Star and myself
to run into town for alcohol… OH and water bottles.  OH and bread.  OH…

Singe, clean, cut up and package six chickens.  (A learning process for many of us!)

Pause to explain "what is that tube, what does that do, how come…"

Repeat steps up to singeing.  Slow process significantly while half of
the helpers leave for pre-scheduled dental appointments.  Fortunately,
the dentist is fast and we’re back in full swing soon.

Finish the rest of the steps.  Pause for lunch.

Continue. 

Say an unexpectedly hurried goodbye to niece and discuss and arrange
travel arrangements for young people to make it to youth group.

Continue.

 End with a grand total of 25 chickens finished.  1/4 done… 1/2 our designated time gone. 

Fall in bed.


Day Two: Steps one through infinity

Move dressing tables beneath carport because it is not freezing or blowing.

Dispatch first group of chickens

Send children to dig a large hole for the…um… offal.
Continue

Welcome awesome neighbor lady who came to help with perfectly manicured nails.

Continue.

Become encouraged with much quicker progress, plus we will be skinning my sister’s share which will be quicker… we hope.

Continue.

Pause to issue Tylenol and a washcloth to child and change clothes to
usher said child (oldest son) to the ER to glue his head back on… I
mean, together.  (Shovels cause straight, short gashes that bleed a lot
if put on the forehead!) He was such a brave kid, though, and had
already reassured the shovel wielder that she was forgiven. My youngest
sister accompanied me because for some reason grandmother’s don’t
believe that mothers can handle ER visits on their own.  Finish at the
ER only to find ourselves at lunchtime with no bread at home for those
remaining behind and my Scheduled and Very Important Dr. Visit coming
up in 1/2 hour.  Get food for us, bread for others, drop me off at the
Dr. office, send sister home with patched up son.

Sit in waiting room -smelling very much like chickens- for 30 minutes
(had to wait for them to get home and husband to return) spending only
5 minutes actually with the Dr… all of which was general chatting
about when we want to schedule a C-section.  Perhaps my odor had
something to do with her brevity.  Nevertheless, next time I will ask
that we do "phone consultations" unless exams and such are going to
occur.

Those remaining behind continue…. Interrupted during my absence by a
chicken my daughter placed in Time Out for a VEEERRRRY LOOOONG Time
because it was VEEEERRRRY naughty.  (not a broiler… one of our "Lucia"
chicks.)  As an aside, she did have a VEERRRRYYYYY long scratch on her
arm that evening that may account for the time out… Continue… 
Interrupted again by a search party for my youngest son who disappeared
in a matter of seconds and was found wandering the road ditch. 
Continue.

I return to find that they have already done 25 and we’re ready to skin!  This should be quick!!

Continue

Pause to console child.

Continue

Pause to console other child.

Continue.

End very tired and crabby from leaning over a stomach that’s way too
big to be comfortable and frustrated with learning yet another new
thing before having mastered the others as well as with the idea that
my city boy husband can out-skin me.  They never know when to be
incompetent!  =)  Also frustrated because we STILL have 28 chickens in
the pen. 

Start mumbling about the conspiracy of chickens to multiply and prolong our efforts. 

Send offal out to be buried.  Realize that, due to hole-related ER
visit interruption, hole was never finished.  Boys play with fire in an
effort to reduce the volume of bury-ables.  Finally, give up and bury
it shallowly planning to finish it up on Saturday and counting on our
dog to keep scavengers away.

Arrange to finish the remaining 28 off that weekend.

Day Three: Steps one through five.

Set up

Yada Yada

Teach oldest son how to bag chickens.  ("That’s a thigh.. that’s a leg…
no, that’s a wing.  No, we can’t bag anymore yet… we have to wait for
those slowpokes to finish cutting up their chickens." *Duck*)

Greet niece and her significant other when they arrive while covered in
chicken … um… stuff and surrounded by tubs of offal.  Fortunately
significant other is an outdoorsman/fisherman/hunter/dresses his own
deer.  "These are the last three, we’ll be done soon!"

End around noon with ALL of them done except for our 2 nugget chicken
whom we have released into the wild.. I mean into the flock of layers
and ducks in the hope that it will grow to be at least a 4 nugget
chicken before it’s time to dress our excess Roosters.

Realize that next year will be infinitely smoother and congratulate each other on our amazing chicken dressing skills. 

Rehash most laugh-worthy moments of the chicken cleaning process (you don’t want to know… you really don’t). 

Finish burying offal and clean up.  (Including the chicken heads that
our dog removes from the butchering area and scatters about the yard.) 
Shower, chat.

And that’s how you do 99 broilers in two and a half days. 

Until next year…
THE END

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